Yoga is an age-old practice said to have originated in India thousands of years ago with mentions in the Rig Veda. It now has an international audience that swears by it as a form of exercise. Comprising a total of 84 asanas, such as Parvatasana (The mountain), Savasana (Resting pose), Bhujangasana (The snake position), and more; the reason yoga stands out in the list of workout routines is because not only does it work on the body but also rejuvenates the mind and soul.
International Yoga Day, observed every year on June 21, as declared by the United Nations in 2014, carries the theme Yoga for Wellbeing in 2021 focusing on holistic wellbeing. According to the UN, the aim behind this theme is to promote holistic health, especially during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, that has impacted both physical as well as mental health.
This International Yoga Day, Global leading holistic health guru/corporate life coach, Dr Mickey Mehta, shows some beginner level asanas that you can start today in your living room itself.
Open up your body and mind
Beginning the session with some breathing exercises, first he encourages you to free up your mind and body for the following yoga practice.
With legs facing the front as he bends forward to touch his toes, this opens up his hamstrings. Next, as he spreads his legs, holds his toes and bends again, it opens up his inner thighs. “Whenever you open your body, joints, connections; your mind opens up too.”
In another method of performing the exercise he folds one leg and bends forward, and repeats the same with the other leg. "While being still in the posture, your body, mind and spirit become one; and tolerance, patience, and resilience grows. That translates into building characters, sympathy, empathy, compassion, open mindedness, light of awareness, consciousness; and that turns you into a better human being," he adds.
He further recommends to not go the entire range, and instead, do as much as you want to. Because, with time it will allow you to progress every week and every day.
Stretch and contract
Performing the butterfly flap, he informs how this asana helps open up your inner thighs, further adding that opening up of mind and body brings change in attitude and makes you optimistic. Later, while being still in the butterfly position, he breathes out and comes down to touch his toes with his forehead, and then goes back.
"Yoga is a combination of stretch and contraction. If you are stretching on one side the opposite side in contracting. That creates a perfect harmony and balance of a yoga asana. That posture yields benefits to your organs because your toxins ooze out. When you stretch your fresh blood comes in, you breathe in fresh oxygen, and nutrient laden blood flows inside your cells; and when you contract, your organs contract and become strong," he explains.
Next he performs the forward bending paschimottanasana, where he breathes out while bending forward and breathes in while coming back up. “You can breathe out and try and hold it to your maximum point whatever it is. Contracting your stomach makes your digestive juices flow, your gut becomes strong, courage comes into your being, strength comes to your stomach; and the act of absorption of food, elimination of toxins, and assimilation of food becomes perfect," he adds.
He further suggests beginners to try and sit in vajrasana, straighten their spine a little, ensure that the thigh muscles, and quadriceps are getting stretched and hamstrings are getting contracted. Breathing in, he first lifts up both his hands, and then breathes out while bending forward.
In another version, he brings his hands in front, and touches the fingertips, takes a deep breath, expands the chest while opening his arms, then contracts as he bends forward, closing both hands. "Stay there, suck your stomach and glutes in tight to strengthen your core cylinder, and create a reservoir of energy, and internal strength." he further says.
Be a table and be stable
Lastly, he sits in an angle with hands by his side at shoulder length, and feet with knees up, also at shoulder length. "Look straight, take a deep breath and become a table. Lift yourself up as much as you can and slowly drop your head down. You can breathe in and come down and make it a compound movement, and again breathe out and become a table. Repeat this around three to four times and it will help you stabilise, and connect with gravity," he says.
“When all your body parts work together to hold your body in a position or to move with grace in tandem; beauty, strength, energy, and courage comes to you,” he adds.
For other advanced versions, one can try to put a leg up, and bring it down, and repeat the same with the other leg. And secondly, lift one leg to the top, bring it down and so on.
He however, suggests to perform advanced versions only under support and supervision. And, as a beginner not to attempt more than five to six exercises in the initial weeks, with only two to three repetitions for each.