By Shameem Akhtar
Each pose has an emotional effect, which can be utilised to bring about a change in personality
Each yoga asana has a personality of its own that affects you accordingly. Learning to hold a particular pose longer, despite your own inclinations and peculiarities, will affect you deeply with the particular tone and texture of each pose.
Standing poses (like pranamasana or prayer pose) are generally treated as both stimulating and grounding. Knowing this means you could exploit it, as a teacher or a practitioner, to tone down the high-energy of a hyperactive person without making him feel dull or lethargic. Forward bending poses (yoga mudra or psychic union pose, for example) are soothing and invite the sense of surrender. This may be of relevance to someone who wants to control his hyperventilation, agitation, or anger. Chest-opening poses are stimulating and uplifting – they remove lethargy and are ideal for those who are depressed. The anxious can resort to meditative prone poses, like crocodile (makarasana) which encourage belly breathing, thereby deepening their breath.
Inversions are exciting yet grounding. Each inversion, in turn, comes with its own personality. The headstand (sirsasana), referred to as the king of poses, for instance, is seen as stimulating while the queen of poses, sarvangasana (shoulder stand) is seen as soothing and cooling. Again, the nature of each pose also may be tweaked by how you hold and for how long. Longer duration adds the earth element to it, grounding you. The faster version of the same increases its air (vata) or stimulating, dynamic side. Holding for less time is stimulating, holding for long is grounding. So, instead of doing what our nature demands from us on the mat, we can use our mat experience to change our nature if we knew how to exploit these nuanced characteristics of each pose.
Parivritti janu sirsasana (Twisted angle head-to-knee pose):
Warm up with a sun salute. Then sit with legs out. Fold left leg at the knee, placing your sole along the right thigh as shown. Inhale, placing your right hand along the right leg as shown, holding the right big toe, or, to begin with, whichever part of the leg you can reach. Exhale, lifting left arm high up, and passing it over the head to grasp right wrist. Beginners can place their left hand wherever it contacts the right arm. Then, inhale. Exhale the twist deeper, to look up at the ceiling from under the arm. Initially hold for just a short while, breathing normally. Do three times. Later, as flexibility and strength is acquired, extend duration to half a minute in the final pose.
Benefits: It is at once a stimulating and grounding pose. It gives a transverse twist to the spine, and tones it powerfully. It also works on the major glands like the pancreas and liver by applying a powerful massaging pressure while twisting.
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