Yoga is an ancient tool to discipline the body and mind, and to lead to spiritual awakening and becoming one with true self. According to Prema Nagesh, popular yoga exponent and teacher in Muscat, “The main aim of yoga is not just to perform physical movements but climbing eight steps gradually to attain permanent happiness.” You can, indeed, take up yoga lessons at home.
The eight steps are called ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ by sage Patanjali, considered the Father of Yoga. These include:
Yama – A universal code of discipline
Niyama – Individual discipline
Asana – Steady and comfortable postures
Pranayama – Right breathing technique
Pratyahara – Controlling the senses
Dharna – Art of concentration
Dhyana – Concentration (meditation)
Samadhi – State of tranquility (where true peace and wisdom abound)
“Originally, no asana (posture) was mentioned in Ashtanga Yoga. However, later, many new asanas were added. Modern day simplified versions of asanas are tailored to tackle modern ailments and current lifestyle. I am going to suggest few asanas which are very helpful in modern lifestyle management of diseases,” says Prema, adding that beginners should consult their physicians before starting yoga lessons, however simple it may appear.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana
Origin and meaning – This asana is not mentioned in any ancient yogic text and developed in current times and shown here as therapy. This posture can be seen in the ‘dancing lord’s pose’ variation.
Technique – extended hand to toe posture. It’s a standing posture which is demonstrated with a prop in a simplified way to make it easy for all age groups. The same asana can be practiced in supine position, too.
Limitations – This posture can be practiced by all age groups and is best for senior citizens who can perform it according to their limitations, taking assistance from others in placing the leg on a chair and with the support of a wall for their back, to prevent falling. It also helps in improving their pace of walking.
Stand at one arm distance beside a wall or dining table to prevent injury (preferably back facing the wall)
Inhaling, gently raise the leg which is beside the prop and place it on it.(exhale)
Inhaling, reach the same side hand to the big toe of the raised leg
Straighten both legs (exhale)
Place the other arm on your waist (normal breath)
Look towards the opposite shoulder (if right leg is up, look at left shoulder)
Hold for 5 to 10 breaths as a beginner, later increase the count
Release the posture slowly, the same way as you attained the posture
Now, repeat the same on the other side, very slowly and observing the breath and the stretch
Excellent practice for improving hamstring flexibility, knee and sciatica pain. Best practised after long walks or running and other physical activities to keep the hamstrings and lower back flexible and reduce discomfort later.