May 10, 2009

Yoga for not so busy people

We posted this post long back for those whose bodies do not allow heavy exercise because of old age or some health issue AND for those who do not have time for doing exercises / yoga for long periods.

In the present post, we give a regimen for those wanting to make yoga a part of their daily routine. Yoga, in the limited context of physical health that we are concerned with in the present post, refers to some asanas and pranayamas. Maybe, we'll talk about yoga in totalily sometime later, which has a big spiritual component and has a much greater power of healing and overall well-being.

One more thing before we start: this regimen will keep you healthy, full of energy, in good shape - but it will not give you a muscular body or reduce your weight by ten kilos in a month.

Time for full regimen: 35-45 minutes, as follows:

1. Warming up [5-10 min]

Yoga is most preferably done in the morning, but just after hours of sleep the body joints are not yet loosened enough to allow for unusual twists and turns. So we need to do a set of warm up exercises. These may consist of a- jogging / running / treadmill running, b- brisk movement of arms, bending them at elbows and calf and taking them in all directions in forward-backward and left-right directions, c- a few pushups or situps, and d- random movements of the whole body as if briskly dancing. Choose your own set in such a way that your entire body gets exercised. Make it enjoyable by playing a soothing tune or simply enjoying the mild tiredness that you feel.
Sometime later, we shall talk about a simple yet effective way of warming up with all the benefits of brisk walk and modern day aerobic / heart-training exercises but without the need for a jogging track or gym equipment.


a. Sarvangasana [standing on one's shoulders] [1-2 min]

* Do sarvangasana as described in this post.
* After it, take half a minute rest in shavasana [which is nothing but lying down face up and completely relaxing the body].

b. Uttanasana - an easy variant [forward and backward bending while standing] [2 turns: 2 min]

* Stand straight, bring your arms straight in front, slowly move them straight over the head.
* Inhale slowly and slowly bend the back to the extent you comfortably can.
* Swing in a very slow motion your entire body forward [arms still stretched beyond your head], and exhale at the same time.
* Come to a pose in which your fingers are touching your feet [this may not happen if your spine is not supple enough, as due to age, not doing exercise, spine problem] and the body is bent in near 'U' shape. Hold in this position for 20-30 seconds and slowly raise your body [arms still stretched] till you have reached straight standing position.
* If you are above 30 and ever had back-ache, take care not to lift the body from the U position upwards by rolling the spine; instead, bend the arms and put your hands on the knees to support the spine.

c. Pashchimottanasana [forward bending while sitting] [2 turns: 2-3 min]

* Sit with legs extended straight in front. Keep the spine straight and arms straight, upon the legs. Inhale slowly and keep raising arms straight up; let the palms face down and then ahead.
* Now exhale slowly and keep bending the body at the waist; let the arms move with the bending head till you can comfortably do. Hold in this position as long as you can.
* Inhale slowly to come back to the initial standing position.

a+b+c. Surya namaskar [prostrating before the sun] [4-6 turns: 6-10 min]

* Do surya namaskar as described in this post.
* Take a minute's rest in shavasana.

d. Forward and backward bending exercises while lying down [3 poses: 5-6 min]

-- d1.Bhujangasana [cobra posture]

* Lie on the rug, with face down. Let the head be turned to a side and palms facing down while lying next to the body.
* Bring the head straight, with chin placed on the floor.
* Bring the palms next to your chest, and let the hand rest next to the body.
* Inhale slowly while lifting the head up as much as you can comfortably do. The spine should arch from waist till neck, and the hips should not be raised.
* Hold for 10-20 seconds, slowly come down to lying position while exhaling.
* Initially, you may need to support the upward bent spine with the hands, but later less support would be needed. Similarly, if your spine is stiff do not bend it forcibly.

-- d2. Shalabhasana [locust posture]

* Lie down with face down as described above.
* Inhale and raise your legs upwards, using the abdomen muscles.
* Hold in this position for 10-15 seconds and let the legs come down while slowly exhaling. Do not let the tension of holding in this posture go to your neck and head.
* If you cannot perform this asana, in the first stage, lift only one leg at a time and alternate with the other leg.

-- d3. Dhanurasana [bow posture]

* Lie on the floor as in the upper two postures.
* Bend the legs from knees and hold the ankles with the hands. Initially, it may be difficult; keep trying over many days to reach this level if you have stiff spine or big tummy.
* Slowly inhale and use leg and arm muscles to bend the body like a bow: the middle part on the ground and legs and chest-head raised as much as possible. Hold the posture as long as you comfortably can.
* Exhale slowly and bring the legs and chest-head to the floor. Then come back to the lying position, and relax with head turned to a side.
* Take half a minute rest in this posture or in shavasana.

e. Ardha-matsyendrasana [lateral bending] [1-2 min]

* Sit with legs straight in front of you. Inhale slowly.
* Bend the right leg [whole of it resing on the floor] at knee and dig the heel at the joint of the legs, below the genital organs. Now bend your left leg, knee facing upwards.
* Lift the left foot over the right thigh and bring it to the other side of it. In this stage your legs are twisted but rest of the body is straight up.
* Now take your left arm to the right as far as you can, behind the back.
* Take your right arm to the left side, in front, so that your elbow pushes past your left knee. Try to touch your right toes, but leave it if you cannot do that in the intial days.
* Come back to the sitting position while slowly exhaling.
* Reverse the sequence: bend the left leg... etc etc...
* So, in one sequence, the body twists like S and in the second, it twists like Z.

f. Rest in shavasana [1-2 min]


a. Kapal bhati [blow for glow] [3-5 min]

* Do this pranayama as described here.
* Take rest while sitting, for about half minute.

b. Anulom-vilom [alternate nostril breathing] [3-5 min]

* While sitting, close one nostril and inhale with the other; close the other nostril and exhale and then exhale; repeat this again and again. We shall later have a detailed post on the correct way of doing this pranayama.
* Take rest while sitting, for about half minute.

c. Bhramari [humming through nose] [8 turns: 4-5 min]

* Do bhramari as given in an earlier post.
* Take rest while sitting, for about half minute.

d. Udgitha [humming through mouth] [8 turns: 4-5 min]

4. Rest [1-3 min]

* Take rest in shavasana, but if you are not tired, you can rest while sitting.