by Stacie Dooreck, Bay Area Wellness at Work Yoga Instructor www.sunlightyoga.com
In many large US cities you see so many people 'doing' yoga. But what is Yoga anyway? Yoga or "union" is an ancient science to help us reach a greater connection with ourselves and the world around us. Yoga includes postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), chanting, relaxation, meditation, nonviolent actions
and diet (vegetarian) and healthy, balanced eating and living. Even trying small steps towards greater health and balance in each of these areas can impact your day and life in large ways. Everyone can benefit from yoga as yoga can be modified to suit your needs. The benefits are numerous ranging from pain relief to peace of mind.
A simple way to think of it is that yoga can be summarized as a full lifestyle including 5 main points. "Swami Vishnudevananda condensed the essence of the yoga teachings into five principles for physical and mental health as well as spiritual growth."
Proper Exercises - asana
Proper Breathing - relaxation
Proper Relaxation - savasana
Proper Diet - vegetarian
Positive Thinking and Meditation
A yoga class or practice class can help you to create balance, well being and peace of mind. It can teach you simple stretches and yoga postures for health, breathing exercises for mental calm, and relaxation techniques to enhance your well being. You can also learn how to increase flexibility, ease neck, shoulder and back tension and help your balance and concentration. You can find a teacher that offers modifications if you are pregnant, injured or have any health conditions that you aren't sure how to modify for.
Here are 10 simple steps to consider if you are new student:
1- In yoga class or on your own, only do the postures or exercises that are comfortable.
2- There should be no pain in the joints or body during the practice.
3- Modify postures or rest as needed.
4- If you have a pre existing injury that is aggravated by a certain movement or exercise please notify the yoga instructor right away.
5-Check with your doctor for any concerns from prior conditions or injuries if you are not sure what you can and can not do.
6-Yoga is not competitive. Go at your own pace.
7- We are all unique- do what is comfortable for your body in each practice.
8- "No pain, no pain". We do yoga to ease pain in the body, not to create more. Be gentle even if you want a challenge.
9- Ask the instructor for modifications if pregnant, injured, ill or needing a different way to do a pose than is suggested.
10- Enjoy the practice! This is not about right or wrong, winning or losing but to feel better in the body and gain more peace in the mind.
Following the simple concepts above, you can also try a simple 2 minute yoga practice at hOMe. The benefits are many even from this few minute yoga sequence, including gaining flexibility in the back, hips and legs, improving posture, releasing tension in the shoulders and back as well as increaseing circulation and energy in the entire body. For the mind, it is beneficial to increase concentration and peace of mind, by focusing on the breath in the postures.
Here is also a 2 minute video to practice or read the steps below:
2 minute hOMe yoga practice: ideas and notes by Stacie, www.sunlightyoga.com
(Please check with your doctor for any injuries or health concerns).
1- Table Pose: Start on all fours with your hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Cushion your knees if needed with a blanket or yoga mat.
This posture brings awareness to our back and balance. If you stretch the fingers here as well it is a useful break for the hands from being at a computer all day.
2- Cow Pose (Bitilasana in Sanskrit): Inhale as you lift the head and tailbone, allowing the heart to melt between the shoulder blades and relaxing the navel center towards the earth
This posture brings mobility to the spine and can improve posture, while allowing a sense of opening to the front chest and lungs.
3- Cat Pose (Marjaiasana in Sanskrit): Exhale as you round the back, relaxing the neck. Keep the fingers stretched out on the floor evenly. This posture releases back and shoulder tensions and is a great way to release your neck and back after a long day at your desk. You can hold for 1-5 slow, deep breaths.
4- Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit) with the knees bent: as you exhale turn the toes under and lift the hips, creating an upside down triangle shape (like a dog stretching).
This posture stretches the legs and back and tones the arms.
5- Downward Facing Dog Repeat the steps above, allowing the knees to bend only if the hamstrings need a more gentle variation. Otherwise gently reach the heels back and down as you extend the spine and hips. Spread the fingers wide. Hold 1-5 slow, deep breaths.
This posture stretches the body and allows a sense of expansion, opening and ease to the breath.
Rest in child’s pose: sit on the heels and rest the forehead on the floor in front of you. Child's pose restores energy and eases the lower back and hips. Slowly roll the spine up and enjoy the benefits of a 2 min yoga practice.
"Serve. Love. Give. Purify. Meditate. Realize." Swami Vishnu Devananda.
Stacie Dooreck, Author of SunLight Chair Yoga: yoga for everyone!, Yoga at work instructor/owner of SunLight Yoga (onsite wellness programs at work in the Bay Area, CA), author and creator of SunLight Chair Yoga: yoga for everyone! books and teacher trainings, Sivananda Yoga Certified Yoga Instructor since 1995, Integral Gentle Yoga, Kundalini and Prenatal Khalsa Way Certified Yoga Instructor, lifelong vegetarian, daily meditator. " More info: www.sunlightyoga.com
SunLight Chair Yoga Books: www.sunlightchairyoga.com