1. Start with a warm up:
The first thing you need to do before starting your yoga practice is to get yourself into a good state of mind. A warm up will help you get into the right frame of mind which is crucial for practicing yoga effectively. You can use any kind of exercises or activities such as stretching, walking, breathing exercises etc. but it must be something that helps you relax and gets your blood flowing. If you are not feeling well then you won’t have the energy to focus on your practice.
2. Do some stretches:
Stretching is one of the best ways to get yourself into a better state of mind. Stretches can be done anywhere in your house such as in the living room, bedroom, kitchen or bathroom. Stretches should be simple and easy to perform. Some of the most popular stretches include:
• Kneeling stretch
• Plank pose (planking)
• Forward bend (sun salutation)
3. Stretch your muscles:
Stretch your muscles as much as possible during your practice session. Doing so will make you feel more energized and give you a stronger sense of accomplishment when you finish your practice session. Before you start stretching your muscles however, you need to first warm up and then cool down.
4. Do some breathing exercises:
There are two types of breathing exercises that you can do during your practice session. Your pranayama has to be done after you have stretched all of your major muscle groups. You want to make sure that your body is nice and relaxed so that the breathing exercise is effective. The three types of breathing exercises that you can do are:
• Normal breathing exercise
When doing normal breathing exercises, you are essentially making your body accustomed to the breathing exercise. All you have to do is to sit down with your legs crossed and relax. Put one hand on your chest and the other one on your stomach. Breathe in slowly for 4 seconds through your nose and out for 4 seconds through your mouth. Do this consistently for 10 minutes.
Sometimes you may find yourself distracted while doing the breathing exercise. If this happens then you can always get up and stretch your body a bit. After you have stretched, return to your initial position and resume the breathing exercise.
• Alternate nostril breathing exercise
The second type of breathing exercise that you can do is the alternate nostril breathing exercise. To do this, you want to sit down in a comfortable position. Relax your whole body and place your right hand in front of you with the palm facing up. Close your left nostril with your pointer finger and breathe in through your right nostril. Now close your right nostril with your thumb and open your left nostril.
Breathe out from your left nostril. Now release your thumb and close your left nostril with your ring finger. Breathe in through your right nostril. Now release your right nostril and close your left nostril with your index finger. Breathe out from your right nostril. This is one breathe and one cycle. Do twenty of these cycles and then switch to the other side by changing which hand is in front of you. Place your left hand in front of you with the palm facing up and do the same process as before.
This breathing exercise helps you to balance the energy in your body. Most people are either left or right-side dominant. This means that there is more energy in one side of the body rather than the other. By doing this breathing exercise, you are increasing the energy in the underused side of your body.
During your asana practice, you want to feel a sense of balance between the two sides of your body. This kind of balance can only be achieved by practicing this breathing exercise.
You should also make sure that you are mentally and emotionally balanced. This is because the mind and emotions can affect the body. If you are feeling angry or sad, this will have an effect on your breathing.
5. Another type of breathing exercise is nadi shodhana pranayama.
Sit down in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for a few minutes.
You can think of this as a type of meditation.
In order to do this right, you need to keep your mind clear. To do this, think of a calm lake. Let the lake be completely still. Let all your thoughts, worries and anxieties go away. This is the mental state that you want to be in while doing this breathing exercise.
This is the ideal state for the pranayama breathing exercise.
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Yoga asanas as an effective form of experiential learning when teaching musculoskeletal anatomy of the lower limb by DC Bentley, SC Pang – Anatomical sciences education, 2012 – Wiley Online Library
Using yoga to treat disease: an evidence-based review by L Lipton – Journal of the American Academy of PAs, 2008 – journals.lww.com
Community based yoga classes for type 2 diabetes: an exploratory randomised controlled trial by L Skoro-Kondza, SS Tai… – BMC health …, 2009 – bmchealthservres.biomedcentral …