yogic journey

The yogic journey

A journey for good health and wisdom. By Kavaalya

Yoga is a subject that can  been seen from various  perspectives, but ultimately,  we need to understand that,  just like wakefulness and  sleep, similarly, yoga is a state of being. It is  experienced by integrating the faculties of  head, heart and hands – where the ‘head’  represents the intellect, ‘heart’ represents  emotions and ‘hands’ represents our actions.

Those who wish to know and experience  the world of yoga do so for many reasons,  such as improving physical fitness, to  counter stress or health management. They  may have seen other people practice yoga  or heard from others about the benefits.  Any reason can become a trigger point to  start your yoga journey. However, one thing  is clear: deep down all are aiming for good  health and a little wisdom. These aspirants  are called ‘beginners’ because they do not  have first-hand experience.

When a person starts doing yoga, they do  so with their personal objectives in mind –  be it for reducing of stress, anxiety or to lead  a healthier lifestyle. But that’s not all there  is to yoga – and the journey begins as the  person becomes aware of some of the other  elements of the practice. The ultimate aim  of yoga is to awaken and realise our hidden  potential by leading the physical body to a  healthier lifestyle, developing and nurturing  positive qualities, and exploring the inner  realms of our mind.

To make it more convenient for beginners,  there are some important steps which can  be followed:

1. NEED FOR GUIDANCE

First of all, yoga should always be learned  directly from an institute or a teacher who  has close connection to some traditional  school of yoga. Progress can always be  assured under the close supervision of  a teacher because only an experienced  teacher can guide the beginners as per their  nature and personality.

2. SEQUENCE OF YOGIC COMPONENTS

The components of yoga should be applied in the following manner:

Pre-asana practices: Before moving into  proper asanas, pre-asana practices like  Pawanmuktasana series 1 to 3 are important  as this helps to open up the joints, tones the  muscles, improves the digestion, opens up  energy blockages and makes the body ready  to perform asanas.

Asanas: For beginners, a mostly dynamic  group of asanas are helpful to develop  flexibility and control over the body. In this  context, they should go through the rules  and regulations and the contra-indications  pertaining to asanas and the limitation  of their body, as directed by a qualified  instructor. Practices like Tadasana, Tiryak  Tadasana, Kati Chakrasaha, Marjari Asana,  Bhujangasana etc. may be performed.

Relaxation/Yoga Nidra practice: After  asanas they should do a relaxation practice  to soothe the muscles, organs, body and  breath so that they are ready for prepranayama and pranayama practices. Yoga  Nidra is one of the best practices, which not  only relaxes the body, but also awakens  creativity by training the subconscious mind.  Pre-pranayama practices:

Pre-pranayama  practices like abdominal breathing, thoracicclavicular breathing and yogic breathing are  necessary to correct the breathing pattern  and allow the lungs and heart to get trained  for the traditional practices of pranayama.

Pranayama: The yogis who have  experienced the highest state of yoga say  that the ‘real yoga’ begins with pranayama,  where yogic experiences start manifesting.  For beginners, balancing and tranquilising  pranayama like Nadi shodhana pranayama  and Bhramari pranayama make a good  foundation.

Meditation: Experiencing meditation in the  form of concentration and one-pointedness  is the main goal of yoga. Beginners should  start it with one very important practice  called Trataka (concentrated gazing). It helps  to enhance the ability to concentrate, release  stress immediately and prepare oneself for  higher stages of meditation.

Sequence: Ideally, yoga should be practiced  in a sequence of asanas, relaxation,  pranayama and meditation.

3. YOGA PHILOSOPHY

Apart from sequencing the components  of yoga, beginners should also take an  interest in the fundamental philosophy and  history of yoga. This gives a broader and real  perspective of yoga.  To summarise, yoga for beginners is the  most important chapter in the journey  of a lifetime. If all the required criteria  are fulfilled with sincerity, seriousness  and commitment, then an individual will  certainly get to inculcate universal human  values, good health and wisdom through the  practice of yoga.

 

Prashant Pandey is course director at Kavaalya

Yoga for Beginners

Starting a praṇayama practice: the breath of yoga.