May 20, 2020 |
Read Time: 6 minutes
Yoga asanas play an important role in bringing a balance between our Para Sympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System. Asana practice helps in flushing out all the toxins in our body. More important, asana practice enables hormones like cortisol to be used up or burnt up through the bodily movements done during asana practice thereby ensuring that our immunity is not negatively impacted by these hormones. Regular and consistent asana practice which is breath – focussed, surely helps in building our immunity system.
Yoga asana practice will bring in benefits of improving immunity only if done the right way with complete breath coordination. Many people associate asana practice with complex postures, extreme twists, seemingly impossible balancing acts, complicated inversions or many repetitions done, – more like a competition. Some people reject asana practice saying that it doesn’t make them sweat and pant! Both of these perceptions are completely misplaced and asana practice is none of these and much much more than this!
A practice where the focus is on a well thought out and planned placement of our body with complete breath coordination is the hallmark of a yoga asana practice. An asana practice is all about the ‘Function’ (the purpose of the Asana) more than just the ‘Form’ (the look of the Asana). Based on the Yatha Shakti (capacity or capability) and the needs of an individual, an asana class or course is planned with the required modifications in each of the postures, with a component of rest and counter poses as and when needed, to ensure the asana practice has the maximum benefit. The practice should be such that after the session, the practitioner can go on to do his next activity seamlessly without any fatigue at a mental or physical level. An experienced yoga teacher would gradually prepare, condition and review the body movements and move towards the goal for that day. Appropriate counter – postures would be given to remove any strain or negative impact on the body and to consolidate the positive impact of the practice.
There is no one asana practice which can fit all as each yoga practitioner is different. But in these difficult times where physical classes are not possible and it is better to be safe at home, one can look at building a self-practice. Our ‘Spine’ is the source of all movement, and one can look at practicing asanas which involve moving the spine in all possible ways as the spine is the primary body part from which all movements originate. A general asana practice may include asanas which include the following:
- Pascimatana or forward bends,
- Purvatana or back arch or back bends,
- Parsva or lateral bends,
- Parivrtti or twists,
- Viparita or inversions
Along with above, a component of pranayama can also be added.
Here are some simple steps for a very simple yet well-rounded breath – based asana practice. If these steps are followed with complete mindfulness and breath- focus, it can be a very energising practice.
- Begin with bringing our complete awareness to our breath.
- Starting point is Standing Samasthiti, which is a state of balance. One should seek to come back to this state after every posture, at all different planes of the practice i.e. standing, lying, seated, etc.
- Start with Standing Asanas – which can include
- Tadasana – for a gentle opening up of the spine,
- Uttanasana, – a forward bend, with modification of bending the knees and/or keeping feet apart to ensure that the spine is stretched without causing any injuries.
- Move on to the Lying (on your back) plane asanas starting with:
- Dwipada pitham – gentle back arch.
- Apanasana – a counter pose and also to relax the spine completely.
- Move to Seated Asanas – starting with:
- Dandasana – with feet stretched out and do a Pascimatanasana , a seated forward bend again with the relevant modifications / simplifications as required by the practitioner
- Balasana to Cakravakasana, – a combination of two asanas to stretch and relax the spine completely.
- End the practice with a few rounds of conscious breathing and Naadi Shodhana Pranayama
This simple yet powerful practice, if done mindfully and with breath – focus, and repetitions, it will surely leave you at a more elevated level both physically and mentally, thereby building your immunity.
This simple practice is but just One small example of the seemingly infinite practices one can craft and create over a period of time by adding more postures, based on the practitioner’s , capability and requirement, adding of breath ratios along with dynamic movements and stays in a posture . This holistic yoga practice will surely boost our immunity and will indeed be good for our overall well -being and good health.