Some people have preconceived notions that the ancient Indian art of Yoga is an extremely difficult, and even painful stretching technique, especially when they come across postures such as balancing the whole body on a single arm, twisting oneself by tucking the legs behind the head, or standing on the head upside down. However, these are advanced yoga postures. There are several easy to do, and equally beneficial yoga postures for the beginners or elderly citizens.
Yoga has been written by the author Patanjali , more than 2500 years ago, and the main purpose of yoga is calming the mind. Although yoga has been proven to restore health and cure diseases, its impact is much more profound. The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit word yuj , meaning to combine or unite, and to center one’s thoughts through concentration and deep meditation. Yoga therefore aims to reintegrate the body with the mind, creating a balanced and harmonious state. It also aims to still the mind of wandering thoughts, making you more receptive and aware of profound joy that the self contains.
Continued practice of yoga brings long-term rewards for the mind and body, touching the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of any being. Yoga also acts as an instant destresser, and is a combination of strengthening the weak areas, and stretching the tight areas of the body. Yoga increases balance of the body, and relieves pain. Senior citizens who have practiced yoga for a long time are significantly flexible. Even if you start late, you can still reverse some of the stiffness of the body, and reduce back and joint pain.
Yoga consists of several postures of varying difficulty, known as asanas , which are part of the Hatha Yoga . These are physical exercises aimed to stretch and strengthen the body. The following simple exercises can be performed at home, or at a place devoid of distractions. Aim to calm the mind, and practice the asana as correctly as possible.
- Cat pose or Viralasana – This pose helps develop concentration and moves the vertebral joints in forward and backward direction. Stand on all fours, with the knee-to-toe part touching the ground. Inhale, lift your head and tailbone, and make the back concave. Then exhale and round up your back to a convex shape. Repeat slowly in rhythm with your breath.
- Sun sequence or Suryasana – Greet the sun with this pose in the morning. Stand straight, with feet wider than the hips and toes pointing straight ahead, and exhale deeply. As you inhale, lift the arms overheard with palms touching each other. Hold your breath for a second, clasping the hands and try to stretch upwards. Exhale and return to the starting position. If possible, you can add side bends or side twists to this asana
- Tree pose or Vriksasana – This is a balancing posture, and can be done with the help of a wall or a chair to provide additional balance. Stand straight, with equal balance on both feet. Gradually shift the weight of the body to the right foot. Keeping the right foot strong like a tree trunk, bend the left knee and place the sole of the left foot on the upper inner side of the right thigh, toes pointing to the floor. Use the help of a chair or wall for support. If possible, extend and join the arms above the head and stretch them. Gaze forward, breathe slowly and try to maintain balance.