YOGASANA

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YOGASANA

Though human body stands comparison with a machine, there is a significant difference between the two. Constant activity makes a machine wear out, whereas it is constant activity which goes to improve the organism and serviceability in a human body. Another –we may call it a basic difference-is that a machine needs external help for repairs and services to it, but a human body has built-in devices which are capable of repairing themselves without any external aid. The secret is in knowing how.

Unfortunately, this unique capability of our body is overlooked and ignored and is not encouraged to do its functions. The automatic servicing of our body can be achieved and maintained faultlessly with the help of exercises.

When we talk of exercises, a wide variety of them flash across our mind’s eye, like jogging, aerobics, sports and games, pull-ups, push-ups, etc. All these exercises have a definite role to play in keeping one fit. They have, however, some drawbacks. They lack in one particular aspect, that is relaxation combined with rhythmic breathing while doing exercises. So once if discontinued there could be either weight gain or loss of good health. They also do not have a definite role in curing particular diseases.

Superiority of yoga over sports, games and other exercises

1. Yoga does not involve any participants for competition, so no anxiety to win over others is created. The muscles are relaxed, heartbeats are in perfect rhythm and the mind at peace.
Sports and games have participants and involve competition making one tense. Consequently only some of the parts of the body are exercised which is incomplete.

2. In yoga, the internal organs get the much needed exercise. In sports and other exercises much of the internal organs are not exercised.

3. Discontinuing yoga for some time does not result in weight gain.
Other exercises and sports once discontinued result in weight gain and loss of health.

4. After doing yoga exercises one feels relaxed and calm as there is neither excitement nor anxiety due to victory or defeat.
Sports and other activities tire and exhaust the performer due to the excitement of winning or disappointment of losing.

What is yoga?

Yoga is the union of body and mind with the spirit. With Yogasanas, a healthy body, intellect and moral conduct are collectively obtained, which itself can cure innumerable incurable diseases. Yoga teaches us self-control, self-discipline and self-knowledge.

Yoga is classified under different names-Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Laya Yoga, Hatha Yoga and so on. Among these, Hatha Yoga is of primary importance to lay-persons because it shows the bath for perfect health. It starts with control of the body and its activities. Here it is essential to say a few words about Hatha Yoga for one to get a better comprehension of it.
Our body is a small universe consisting of the five elements controlled by two opposite but complementary forces-positive and negative. The positive force is HA(Sun) and the negative force is THA(Moon). When these two forces come together in perfect harmony, they bring complete control over the body and mind to fight all sickness and evils.

A good many books on yoga have been written and are getting written still. Here we simplify the significance of the yogic exercises for maintaining good health and help readers to prevent and cure diseases by their own efforts.

There are classes for yoga exercises where unfortunately instructors having very little knowledge teach yoga exercises to children and adults alike. If an adult without beign introduced to the primary lessons and principles of yoga starts doing yoga at random, it may do more harm than good to him, because all the exercises are not indicated for everyone

For the execution of these asanas, choose a fairly peaceful place with good ventilation either under a tree or on the terrace of a building. The surface should not be soft, but hard. A cotton carpet can be used. Do the exercises preferably in the morning after completing the morning ablutions, but only on an empty stomach, because the internal organs are exercised during yoga. If for want of time one is unable to do them in the morning, there should be at least a gap of four hours after meals and an hour before eating.

Young children can abide by this. They often need force to eat or drink. It is only the adults who need to eat something as soon as they rise. May be that is why learning anything or disciplining the body and mind in very young age is easier.

Once children can abide by this. They often need force to eat or drink. It is only the adults who need to eat something as soon an they rise. May be that is why learning anything or disciplining the body and mind in very young age is easier

Once yogasanas are learnt at a very young age, the habit of remaining without eating or drinking for prolonged periods becomes easy.

Benefits of yogasana

  • Regular habit of doing yogasanas will bring the following benefits:
  • Functioning of the nervous system becomes perfect.
  • Waste matter of the body gets eliminated thoroughly.
  • Memory improves and blood circulation becomes perfect.
  • Digestive system improves and remains in perfect condition.
  • Respiratory organs and other vital organs perform their functions efficiently.
  • Above all when every organ in the body is in perfect harmony with each other’s function, a wonderful state of mind is enjoyed by the individual.

When doing yogic exercises, we need patience to relax and breathe in a regularized manner. This will not only make exercise easy but will also relieve whatever physical discomfort we experience.
All parts of our body need an equal amount of exercise. This is possible in yogic exercises, even when we do only a few exercises in different postures. Different rules are laid down by different yoga teachers. But a very simple one followed by some is as follows:
Single exercise in each and every posture alternating the opposite posture to the one done before (i.e. counter posture), bends as well as stretches the respective part of the body. Several postures of bending and stretching cannot be learnt overnight, but there are few simple exercises which can be practiced without much difficulty.

Some of the simple exercise given below are very useful to control and cure many disorders provided they are practised regularly.

Following exercises can be learnt by oneself:

Padmasana

Procedure: Sit on the floor and stretch the legs. Fold the right leg and place the right foot on the left thigh. Then fold the left leg and place the left foot on the right thigh. Let the heels of the legs be in contact with the abdomen. Sit erect with both the hands resting on the knees.

Breathe in rhythm as follows: Inhale counting from 1-4 and exhale counting from 5-8. Breathe in the same manner for ten times. Do not hold the breath. Sit relaxed. Remain thus for a few minutes during the initial days of practice and slowly increase the time.

If crossing both the legs gives pain in the groins, practice first crossing one leg for some time and the other next in turn. This will make sitting in Padmasana easier after some days.

Benefits: Useful for joint pains, better digestion and almost all disorders.

Vajrasana

Procedure: Kneel, keeping the knees close together, but the feet a little apart. Let the toes touch each other. Gently lower the body and sit on the heels with out disturbing the previous posture.
Place the palms on the knees. Keep the spine and head erect and sit relaxed. Breathe normally as explained in Padmasana.

During the initial days, the inner side of the thighs, the dorsum of the feet, ankles and knees may ache a little. But slowly this pain will reduce. The discomfort is mostly due to our habit of sitting with our feet dangling over chairs and cots, completely ignoring the posture of sitting on the floor. For people who are used to sitting on ground in daily life while doing any work, it is very easy to assume this posture.

This exercise is an exception in that it can be practised immediately after meals especially a heavy one with good effect.

Benefits: Useful for backache, better digestion, improving concentration and loss of appetite.

Simhamudra

Yogic exercises should accompany breathing in rhythm only through the nostrils. This asana is an exception where one cannot do so, because the tongue has to be folded and then stretched in two stages

Procedure: Kneel down and lower the body to sit on heels as in Vajrasana except that in Vajrasana the knees are kept close together and in this they are kept slightly apart.
Spread both the palms and place them on the knees in a relaxed way.
Breathe evenly, protrude the tongue and fold inwards to touch the palate.
Bend the head a little forward, the chin touching the chest. At the same time exhale through the nose as well as the mouth simultaneously stretching the tongue as much as possible out of the mouth.

Widen the eyes and fix the gaze in front.
Remain thus for two-three seconds and not more during the initial days.
Once the protrusion of the tongue is completed, you should stop exhaling and hold the breath for two seconds. After two seconds, slowly draw in the tongue and inhale only through the nose and sit erect.

Repeat the process again. After a few days of practice, this exercise can be perfected and practised as many times as possible.

Benefits: This exercise is extremely useful to all young children and must be practised by adults to prevent and cure a number of diseases connected with ear, nose, throat and other respiratory troubles.

It helps greatly in overcoming all problems related to tonsils,adenoids, larynx and pharynx. If regularly practised, it can prevent any unnecessary removal of tonsils by surgery. As the face and eye muscles are exercised, it gives a glowing colour to the complexion and shine to the eyes. This exercise proves to be extremely beneficial to singers and public speakers. It is useful in all forms of skin diseases. It cures thyroid diseases and deafness if practised perfectly and regularly.

Matsyasana

Procedure: Cross the legs and assume the posture as in Padmasana.
Lower the body and allow the back and head to touch the floor slowly.
Elbows can be used to support the body for lying down.
Hold the toes with both hands and relax for a brief second.
Breathe normally without becoming tense and slowly arch the back stretching the neck till the top of the head rests on the floor.

If in the beginning holding the toes is difficult, the hands can be laid just on the thighs of folded on the chest as in worship. But regular practice will make holding the toes easy.
Breathe slowly and regularly and hold for a few seconds.
When coming back to the original position, release the hands first and lie down, then resting on the elbows come back to the sitting posture.
Slowly unfold the legs and stretch. Relax with deep regular breathing.

Benefits: This exercise increases the capacity of the lungs. The flow of blood towards and from the heart is made efficient to supply oxygenated blood to the vital organs of the body making the body light. It gives the maximum benefit in strengthening the muscles and nerves of the neck and face. The stretching of the neck tense the muscles of the face while muscles of the cervical region are contracted. And as the abdominal muscles are stretched, the muscles of the back are contracted.
This simultaneous extension and contraction regulates the breathing in a unique manner making the body as light as possible. The blood which flows out of the heart effortlessly, gets collected in the neck and clears the tonsils, thyroid and adenoids.

Colds and tonsils are cured by doing this exercise regularly. Diseases of the teeth and gums get relieved. Pimples and other infections and skin disorders are cured.

Bhujangasana

Procedure: Lie down on your abdomen allowing the head to touch the ground.
Let the chin touch the chest. Keep the legs together
Place your palms below your shoulders and raise your head a little.
Stretch the legs and feet so that the toes and dorsum of the feet touch the ground.
Inhale as you raise the entire trunk. The abdomen below the navel should touch the ground
Bend the spine backwards very slowly holding the head high.
Look up and hold that posture for a few seconds.
Do not strain the arms. They should balance the trunk with full relaxation and ease.
Slowly exhale as you come back to the original position.
Repeat the above process two or three times. Then put down your head and relax for a while.

Benefits: Each and every part of the body needs its quota of exercises as they all have their own functions to do. Bhujangasana strengthens the arms. On the physical sphere its effects are plenty. This exercise gives therapeutic benefit to both abdomen as well as spine. The stretching of the abdominal muscles and nerves stimulates the secretion of the liver, stomach and intestines.
As the spine is stretched backwards and then brought back to position, the whole spine from neck to low back is exercised improving the blood circulation and stimulating the nerves. This exercise relieves backache, improves digestion, expands the lungs encouraging increased oxygenated blood flow towards the heart. This asana is recommended for asthma. It makes the shoulders broad and shapes the neck. The double chin found in an obese person disappears with the regular practice of this asana. It helps in kidney disorders and stimulates the thyroid glands and cures the deficiency. On the mental sphere, it creates self confidence and a bold approach towards things.
This asana must not be practised by those who suffer from hyperthyroidism and hypertension.

Makarasana

Procedure: Lie down on the abdomen with the back side of the feet touching the ground.
Raise both the arms above the head and cross them.
Adjust the position of the arms in such a way that both the elbows are arranged one upon the other. Let the palms touch the shoulders of the opposite side.
Cradle the head in the triangle formed by the elbows, close the eyes and relax, breathing normally all the while.
This posture is extremely comfortable for any one to remain in, for a long time. Once relaxation is achieved by practice, deep breathing can be practised with ease.

Benefits: This is one of the most natural postures people often take refuge in, whenever they are tense, depressed or tired. It helps remove fatigue and stress, both physical and mental. After a hectic day at office or school, one can experience freshness by practicing this exercise.
It is a good exercise to practice regularly for relieving head aches caused by excess reading and writing. It reduces the strain in the eyes and refreshes them. The strain caused by prolonged viewing of TV is also greatly relieved by this exercise. The deep breathing which is combined with this exercise helps in relieving disorders of the stomach.

Parvatasana

Procedure: Assume the Padmasana posture. Remain in this posture for a few seconds.
Inhale and exhale at equal intervals at least three times.
Fold the hands (palms touching each other) and press them together on the chest as is praying.
The elbows must be held slightly away from the body.
The folded hands will be in a straight line without bending.
Slowly raise the hands keeping them in the same folded position above the head vertically.
While raising the hands, breathe in slowly and normally.
Allow the hands to stretch to the maximum. Look straight and remain in this position for some time.
Slowly, without disturbing the folded hands, lower them to touch the chest once again.
Repeat this a few more times.
When the hands are fully stretched above the head, a slight discomfort in the ribs, axial (armpit) and front of the neck may be experienced for the initial two days. But this will disappear after a few days of practice.

Benefits: The rhythm in inhalation and exhalation in this exercise, strengthens the lungs. Obese persons will benefit from this exercise as the abdominal muscles get stretched to their maximum. It reduces excess flesh around the waist and shapes the figure. Flabby flesh on the arms, especially above the elbow, reduces excess flesh around the waist and shapes the figure. Flabby flesh on the arms, especially above the elbow, reduces to a great extent.

Yoga mudra

Procedure: This exercise is performed in two postures, one in the Padmasana posture and the other in Vajrasana posture.
Assume the posture of Padmasana-sitting cross-legged, placing the legs on the thighs of the opposite side, the heels touching the abdomen.
Sit erect and hold right wrist with left hand at the back. Slowly bend forward and touch the ground.
While bending forward it is essential to exhale first and then bend, likewise while bending backward it is necessary to inhale first and then bend, because bending forward causes the compression of the abdomen and extension of the of the spine. If this breathing pattern is mastered, bending exercises will not cause any cramps, pains and other discomforts or giddiness and headache.
After sitting cross-legged, hands folded at the back, exhale, slowly, bend forward and touch the floor, with the forehead.
Stay in this position for a few seconds and gradually comeback to the original position by inhaling deeply and lifting the head from the ground. Repeat a few more times. Relax and unfold the legs.
If sitting in Padmasana causes too much pain, the asana can be started with sitting on Siddhasana, i.e. crossing just one leg on the thigh opposite to it.
In the beginning, pain in the low back, groins and legs may be felt. But if one practices other exercises regularly or just this one regularly, the pain disappears. This asana can also be performed in the Vajrasana posture.

Benefits: Regular practice of this asana has the power to ease several physical disorders as well as mental tension simultaneously. It totally removes the root cause-pride and strong headedness-and helps achieve humility. The effect of the relaxation it gives to the mind, is felt in the abdominal as well as spinal muscles and nerves to exercise with case cures all abdominal disorders.
It strengthens the groins and the entire pelvic region. It banishes stubbornness and disobedience in children as well as grown-ups. After having a hectic day at the workplace, this exercise performed in the late evenings before meals will create natural hunger which otherwise is absent due to tension. When one is tense the power of digestion is extremely poor and only when one has a healthy appetite, can he eat well and digest properly.

Dhanurasana

This exercise comes easily to very young children below six years. There are children of three and two-and-half years who mimic their elders while doing this asana. The flexibility of muscles at this age is great. But children below six years should not be taught yoga exercises. If, however, they are able to do any asana instinctively, there is no harm. Older people take a few days to learn this asana.

Procedure: Lie on the stomach and keep both the legs together. Fold the legs slowly by bending the knees. Breathe slowly in the normal way and lift your head.
Arch the back and hold both the legs with your hands near the ankles.
Stretch the legs held by the hand a little further to assume the posture, of a bow. Look up.
Remain for a few seconds in this posture. Time can be increased after a few days when you are perfect.
Release the legs and lower them to the ground. Rest your head down and place the arms on your sides. Relax a while and repeat the exercise two or three times.

Benefits: This exercise stimulates all the endocrine glands from the thyroid in the neck to the sex glands in the pelvic region. The brain’s activities increase. This asana proves beneficial to all school-going children. The abdominal muscles stretch and enable good digestion. It cures obesity if practised very regularly. It removes fatigue and also lethargy. It is very beneficial in children whose thyroid hormones are slow in functioning (hypothyroidism) but it must not be practised by those who suffer from hyperthyroidism. It preserves youth and vitality and postpones ageing. It cures sterility and impotence. It is helpful in all irregularities of menses in women. It relieves rheumatism of shoulders, knee joints and ankle joints.
Contraindications: This exercise should not be practised by people suffering from hernia, people with spinal injuries and fractures and those suffering from stomach ulcers.
In the beginning this exercise may cause some pain in the arms, shoulders and calf muscles, which slowly reduces. It should be practised in a relaxed frame of mind without any tension.

Paschimottanasana

Procedure: Sit with your legs stretched and raise both arms above the head touching the ears. The palms should face forward.
Exhale slowly and bend forward. Try to hold the toes with both hands without bending the knees and put down your head so that it touches the legs.
Stay for a few seconds and raise the arms slowly as you inhale.
Release the toes and assume the original position step by step by lifting the head with the raised arms touching the ears.
Repeat this two or three times. Initially the final posture may not be achieved, so do not force yourself. Instead, first try to hold the ankle. Once the muscles become supple, you can fell your elbows touching the ground as you put the head on the legs.

Benefits: This asana tones up the abdominal muscles and relaxes its nerves. It enables all the digestive organs to function with ease to promote digestion. The stretching of the spinal nerves, especially those of the lower back, strengthens liver, spleen, kidneys and intestines, preventing any functional disturbance.
Constipation is relieved and lost appetite is restored. Brain gets strengthened as it receives proper flow of blood. It reduces extra flesh around the abdomen and helps reduce piles.
This asana should not be practised by people suffering from slipped disc of the vertebrae(cervical, lumbar, thoracic, etc.), which need backward bending and not forward bending exercises. This is also contraindicated for those who suffer from hypertension, because the blood flows towards the head in this asana.

Januvakshasana

Procedure: Kneel down with the knees a little apart from each other. Let both the feet come together at the back with the toes touching each other. Exhale and bend placing the hands on the floor with elbows touching the knees. With out shifting the position of the legs and hands, stretch the spine forward and touch the ground with the chin. Stay for awhile. Raise your head as you inhale and assume kneeling posture.

Benefits: This exercise is very useful for all women’s disorders. It tones up the muscles of the uterus and ovaries and stimulates the hormones. It cures abnormalities like excess menstrual flow, cramps during menses, painful discharge, low backache, and pelvic congestion. However yoga exercises should never be performed during menses.

Mandukasana

This asana must have derived its name from the Sanskrit name Manduka which means a frog. Mandukasana does not resemble the frog very much as its name denotes, but the folded legs resemble frog’s hind legs and the arms supporting the body look like frog’s forelegs. Though this asana looks simple and is also easy to perform, its benefits are plenty.

Procedure: kneel down with the knees apart.
Slowly lower the body and sit down between the folded legs in such a way that the buttocks touch the ground. Slowly widen the gap between knees till they come in a straight line.
Keep the toes close to each other. Lean a little forward and place both the palms near the thighs, fingers turned towards the thighs.
Keep the spine erect, fix your gaze straight and breathe normally. Stay so for as long as you can and revert back to original position by releasing the hands first and then drawing in the folded legs together.
Relax and repeat again
During the initial days of practice, difficulty may be experienced in spreading the legs and it may not come in a straight line. The groins may ache if you force it. Gradually, the gap can be decreased without any discomfort.

Benefits: This is a unique exercise for women, teenage girls as well as women of other ages.
All uterine disorders respond well to this exercise. The so-called premenstrual syndrome, like depression, frustration and anxiety can be overcome by practicing this asana regularly.
It cures impotence in the males. It strengthens the pelvic muscles and improves circulation in the region.
It helps control bladder and prostate disorders.
Spinal nerves get adequate supply of circulation and they become stronger.
It is a good exercise for obesity too.

Suptavajrasana

Vajrasana is the sitting posture exercise which is learnt in the beginning. Supta means lying. Vajrasana in lying posture is Suptavajrasana. Try to sit in Vajrasana and lie down on your back. It will seem to be difficult and may create the impression that your legs and arms are going to suffer cramps. But it is the reverse. This exercise is to relax the body but in a different way.

Procedure: Sit in the kneeling position (just kneel down) with the knees apart.
Slowly lower the body and settle down and sit between the heels and let your seat touch the ground.
Breathe normally in a relaxed manner.
With the support of the arms and elbows, lie down on your back with out disturbing the leg’s position. The soles should be upturned. Breathe normally. Do not be tense. You should always remember that yoga is meant for relaxation and not tension.
Now what to do with the arms? Arms can simply be allowed to rest on the legs or folded behind the back or placed below the head near the neck as if to cradle the head.
Breathe effortlessly and remain in this position for a little while in the beginning. The duration can be increased slowly day by day.
When coming back to your original position with the help of your arms and elbows slowly rise and sit down between the heels.
Repeat the exercise few more times.
In the beginning if relaxation is not perfect, thighs and calf muscles may ache, but once it is practised daily, it will become easier and pleasurable.

Benefits: This exercise created a stimulating effect in the nerves. Small blood vessels are activated. The retarded blood circulation due to the bending of the legs is directed and forced towards the nerve centres in the navel (solar plexus). This helps in the slow acting glandular functions and the sluggish nervous system. Excess fat in the abdomen and waist is removed. Digestion is improved, chronic constipation, knee joint pains as in arthritis is relieved. It is a useful asana for those who suffer from diabetes.

Pavanmuktasan

This is one of the useful exercises, once the proper technique is followed and performed regularly by all. This helps to cure most of the disorders of the stomach. Pavana is wind in Sanskrit and mukti means liberation.

Do this exercise in 3 stages with right leg first, then with left leg and finally with both legs together. The correct method of breathing makes all the difference for achieving best results from this exercise.

Procedure: Take both arms above the head as you inhale deeply, till the arms reach the ground. In the initial days, arms touching the ground may be slightly difficult. So raise them as much as you can. It should be kept always in mind that no force has to be applied on over-enthusiasm in doing exercises. All the same, day by day, one must try to do better than before.
Raise the left leg, flex the knee and fold it bringing it on the abdomen at the same time exhale through the mouth quickly and bring your hands about the legs and touch the knee with your nose and chin.

Remain for some seconds in this posture and assume the original position by releasing the legs first. In hale slowly through the nose, raise the leg and put it back on the ground. Simultaneously, go back to the lying position with arms stretched above.
The important feature that has to be remembered while doing this exercise is that rising from ground and flexing of the legs must be simultaneously done with correct inhalation and exhalation.

Benefit: This exercise relieves the fermented and foul gas that gets accumulated in the system. Quick inhalation while folding the legs purifies the lungs and makes them function effectively. This effects is automatically felt in the functioning of the heart.
Pressure around the uterus is released and uterine disorders are corrected.
Intestinal parasites, piles, flatus and rheumatism of the joints are prevented. There is a special effect of this exercise that relieves one form the effect of being subjected to unclean atmosphere when among people with lowly desired, jealousy, malice, criminals, spiteful people, etc.
After a hectic day, being in heavy traffic or jammed shopping centre and tedious bus or train journey, if this exercise is done, one can personally feel the effect of this asana.
After many research and experiments, this has been proved and this exercise is advised for traffic police men, those who are in the CID department, even doctors and nurses who have to be in contact with mentally nervous and ill patients.
This exercise is to be avoided by pregnant ladies.

Vakrasana

Vakrasana is one of the exercises in the sitting posture in which the upper part of the body is exercised more than the lower part. The other similar asana is Paschimottanasana. The portion of the body from the lower abdomen to the head is twisted to one side first and then the other. Vakra in Sanskrit means crooked or curved.

Procedure: Stretch both legs and sit erect.
Fold the right leg and lift it across the left leg and place it near the knee of the left leg.
Keeping the shoulders straight and spine erect, breathe normally as you gently twist the body without disturbing the position of the legs.
Place right hand, palms touching the ground at the back in level with the stretched leg.
Bring the left hand across the right thigh and place the palm on the ground parallel to the right knee. Thighs should press the abdomen well.
Gently twist the head till the chin is in level with the shoulder.
Remain in this posture for a few counts and come back to the original position step by step.
In almost all exercises the last step must be the first step while bringing the body to the original position.
Repeat the same with other side

Benefits: This exercise removes all stiffness of the neck, waist and spine. The pelvic region is strengthened as the circulation of the blood to strengthen and activate them. Muscles of the abdomen and chest are strengthened. Those who suffer from cervical spondilitis and other spinal disorders, benefit from this exercise. The excess flesh in the abdomen and thighs are reduced with regular practice of this exercise.

Ardhamatsyendrasana

This exercise must be practised by almost every one because this asana and Vakrasana are the asanas that strengthen the spine side ways that too in the vertical position. All other asanas performed lying on back and abdomen bend the spine forward and backward. Doing Vakrasana first helps doing Ardha Matsyendrasana better and easily.

Procedure: Sit on the ground and place the left heel under the right thigh.
Slowly take right leg across the folded left leg and place the foot flat on the ground near the left knee.
Push the right leg pressing the abdomen by the left hand and place it touching the right foot or hold the right toes.
Twist the waist towards right and bring your chin in level with your right shoulder.
Take your right hand behind the back by twisting a little more and touch the right thigh.
Take your right hand behind the back by twisting a little more and touch the right thigh.
Stay for some in this posture and return to original position.
Repeat the same with the other side.

Benefits: Useful for backache, digestive disorders, liver disorders, diabetes, kidney disorders and for obesity caused due to diabetes and indigestion.

Pranayama (Breathing exercises)

Most of the diseases people, especially children, suffer are due to breathing through the mouth. While inhaling through the mouth it draws in all the chemicals present in the air, but when we breathe through the nose which is equipped well with devices to filter the air and provide moisture, the harmful chemicals and dust particles are prevented entry into the lungs through the wind pipe.
Mouth breathing is one of the reasons for the derangement of adenoid and tonsils in young children. Right from one’s childhood, breathing through the mouth must be discouraged.

The internal organs of the body during its various functions produce plenty of toxic gas. When the respiratory organs suffer a setback in the function, the poisonous gas is retained inside the body of create complicated diseases. Regular practice of simple exercises for as less as ten minutes a day not only corrects these disorders, but also prevents further complications.

Breathing exercises must not be practices in overcrowded room, poorly ventilated place and sitting in the same room with others who do the same exercise. The toxic breath exhaled by others can be easily inhaled by the one practicing if the room is very small and not properly ventilated. If a certain person is suffering from a specific disorder, it does more harm than good to the others.
A fairly ventilated place under the tree or open space, is the best place to practice all breathing exercises.

Though breathing by mouth is harmful to health, some breathing according to yogic pranayama rules and principles are quite safe and effective in the control and cure of many diseases.
Pranayama exercises are exhaustive and unless trained under a good yoga expert, the art cannot be mastered. But there are a few simple exercises which can be practiced with ease all by oneself, with a little patience, to combat uncomplicated ailments. Its main aim is to eliminate the toxic waste through breathing.

Various schools of yoga teach yogic exercises and Pranayama under different names. In order to avoid confusion in the minds of those who are already familiar with the different names but know very little about those exercises and for the benefit of learners, the exercises are given here, in numbers.

Breathing exercise no.1: Breathing with rhythm

Sit cross-legged on the ground or on a chair or stand with folded hands as in prayer. Keep mouth closed and breathe in through the nostrils counting one to four. Hold breath till you count from five to eight. Start to breathe out. While breathing out count once again from one to four, hold breath till you count from five to eight before you start inhaling. Repeat this a few more times. Increase the number of counts while breathing in and out and in between, gradually from day to day, to draw in more oxygen and expel more carbon-di-oxide.

Breathing exercise no.2: Cleansing pranayama

Sit cross-legged on the ground or on a chair with the spine erect and muscles relaxed. Cover the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Cover the left nostril too with the index finger and hold breath for one to two counts. Release the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this with the left nostril. Cover the left nostril with the index finger and inhale through the right. Close both the nostrils and hold for one or two counts and then exhale through the left nostril with the index finger and inhale through the right. Close both the nostrils and hold for one or two counts and then exhale through the left nostril releasing the index finger. With regular practice the number of counts while holding the breath should increase.

This exercise corrects the disorders of the nasal cavity and lungs. The good supply of oxygen help purify the lungs.

Those who suffer from blood pressure must not practice to hold the breath. They can simply inhale and exhale.

Breathing exercise no.3

Close the left nostril with the middle and ring fingers and inhale deeply through the right up to four counts and hold for four more counts or count from one to eight while breathing. Once again while exhaling, count one to eight straightaway or count one to four and hold for five to eight and exhale through the same right nostril keeping the left nostril closed all the time. Repeat this a few more times.

This breathing is useful in common cold, congested chest, bronchitis, bronchial asthma and other ailments caused due to cold and dampness during winter and rainy days because it creates heat in the body.

Breathing exercise no.4

Exercise No. 3 is to be repeated with the left side. Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale deeply through the left nostril up to four counts and hold for four counts or count slowly from one to eight as you breathe and hold. Exhale through the same nostril (left) as you count in the same pattern.

This exercise cools the organs of the body when they get overheated. It is useful in fevers.

Breathing exercise no.5

Sit in a comfortable position with crossed legs. Keep the body relaxed and erect. Keep the mouth closed. Inhale fast as much air as possible and exhale quickly with force. Do not hold the breath but breathe in and out in quick succession. Relax a while, breathing normally and again start breathing in and out in quick succession. Do this five to six times in the beginning and slowly increase after a few day’s practice.

This exercise is recommended in all digestive and respiratory disorders. It corrects defective circulation.

Breathing exercise no.6

Sit in a comfortable position, either on the ground cross-legged, or on a chair. Keep the spine and head erect and body relaxed. Inhale deeply through the nostrils. Do not exhale through the nostrils but blow the cheeks and pout the lips and exhale through the pouted lips slowly but with force. Repeat this four to five times.

This exercise purifies the blood and cures skin diseases. It cleanses all the internal organs of the body.

Breathing exercise no. 7

Stand Straight with both the legs together. Place both the thumbs inside the ear to plug them and place the index fingers on the eyelids. Place the other fingers on either side of the cheeks. Draw in the air through the mouth as the cheeks puff fully. Bend the neck to rest in the throat cavity. Hold for 1 to 3 counts. Gradually lift the head while you exhale through the nose. Do not exhale through the mouth. Release the index finger and open the eyes.

When mastered and practised regularly, this exercise cures all problems of the ears including deafness.

Breathing exercise no.8

Sit cross-legged on the floor or sit on a chair comfortably with the spine erect and relaxed. Place both the hands on the knees. Roll your tongue inwards and let it touch the upper palate. Without disturbing the tongue’s position inhale through the mouth making the sound ssss……as you count 1,2,3,4. Close your mouth and exhale through the nose counting 1,2,3,4. After a few days of practice you can hold your breath for a while in between inhalation and exhalation.

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  • About The Author

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    Gopakumar Nair belongs to a Hereditary Ayurvedic family of Kerala who were Practising Ayurveda and traditional Medicine for 200 Years . They can be traced back to over six generations. His experience under the guidance of his guru Valiya thampuraan has earned lot of trust and popularity.

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