General Directions About Practicing Yoga Asanas
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Yoga Body Exercises or Asanas.

The asanas practiced in the traditional methodology of yoga are powerful exercises that have long term benefits for the human system. This is because they have been designed in conjunction with the physiological structure of the human body. Many Westerners think and publicize yoga asanas as low impact exercises. They propagate the fundamental of yoga asanas as exercises wherein the body does not undergo strenuous treatments. But contrary to the popular belief this is not true. Yoga Asanas may seem as low impact because they do not involve too many frequent physical movements as in aerobics or any other form of high impact exercise or sport. But they are certainly not low impact exercises as they involve considerable stretching of the musculo-skeletal systems. In addition they exercise the internal organs and all the systems of the body also.

It is therefore extremely recommended that before practicing the asanas or attempting pranayama care should be taken to go through the general directions carefully, so that an individual does not harm the system. The precautions regarding pranayama have been covered in the section on pranayama. Here we shall cover the directions necessary to be followed while practicing the yoga asanas or yoga exercises.

Basic Precautions and Directions:

It is believed that one should do the bowel movement before doing the asanas. If one is suffering from constipation, it is recommended that the person drinks a litre of lukewarm water to which a pinch of salt or some lime juice has been added preferably before five in the morning. Then the person should practice Tadasana, Padahastasana, Dhanurasana and Pavanmuktasana. After a few days practice the bowel movement will become regular and easier.

Some practitioners believe that bathing with luke-warm water in winters and cold water in other seasons before doing the asanas is also very refreshing. It is however not necessary. One must take care not to take a bath immediately after performing the asanas and wait for an hour before taking a bath.

It is also recommended to massage the body thoroughly during the bath. These days many exfoliating scrubs are available that can be used to remove the dirt and toxins deposited on the body after the asanas have been performed. The light massage also helps in toning up the muscles and internal organs.

Practicing the yoga asanas increases the heat content of the body. The asanas should never be practised on bare ground. The asanas should always be practiced on a folded blanket or a carpet that has been spread on the ground. This is called the seat. It should be firm enough to give support to the entire body.

Pranayama and yoga asanas are two practices that go hand in hand. It is advisable to practice them simultaneously. The benefits gained by both of these practices increase manifold if they are done together.

The asanas are best practiced outdoors. But in modern day city life it may be difficult to achieve, so it is advisable to practice these in a clean, well ventilated room. The ambience of the room should be peaceful. It may also be good to play some calm and relaxing music while practicing the asanas.

Light clothes made out of cotton fabric are advised to be worn during asana practice. Tight fitting clothes can interfere with the movements, so it is advisable to choose clothes that enhance one’s comfort level.

It is advisable to not expose the chest during the winter and rainy weather as many asanas involve enhancement of blood circulation to the heart. These exercises increase the temperature of the chest area and exposing the chest to cold weather can have damaging effect to the system.

Asanas involving light physical exercises can act as warm up exercises which can be followed by other asanas and pranayama and the session can be closed with meditation. This order generally yields maximum benefit.

It is advisable to urinate at the end of the session so that no toxins are retained in the body.

It is recommended to do Shavasana at the end of the session or when the body becomes too tired.

It is highly recommended that one should take proper care of one’s consumption of food while practicing the yoga asanas or yoga exercises. It is advisable to eat only less spicy and light food with very little salt. It is also advisable to include a lot of green leafy vegetables into the diet. Alcohol is best avoided but in modern times it may not be possible to completely abstain. So a glass of wine or a small drink taken socially is the best alternative. Over consumption of non vegetarian food also interferes with the practice of yoga asanas so they too are best avoided.

It is advisable to do the asanas on an empty stomach only. A glass of water can be sipped before doing the asanas or small sips can be taken during the practice as well. As an outcome of the asanas the water gets broken down into hydrogen and oxygen and this facilitates the removal of toxins from the joints, thus relieving pain from the joints.

The food takes about twenty hours to be completely digested and assimilated. Asanas can be performed eight hours after consumption of a light meal, or two hours after a glass of milk is consumed, and after one hour of taking a small bowl of fruit.

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