Before embarking on the practice of yoga, do have a read at this checklist and heed the cautionary notes that will help you avoid injuries and enjoy your yoga practice for the days and months and years to come. Again if you are beginner, always check with your doctor before you start any exercise program.
Always make sure that you warm up before starting any routine be it exercising or yoga.
Follow Curriculum and Instructions
You may think it is great to start doing Yoga by reading books or by watching videos on Youtube but let us inform you that you will be doing more harm to yourself than good through this habit. Yoga should be approached in a holistic manner with a complete program of ethics, exercise, breathing and meditation.
Breathe Deeply and Slowly
Always breathe deeply and slowly when doing yoga. Do not hold your breath except where specified by your yoga instructor. At no time should you be holding your breath for more than 5 seconds. Always make it a point that you are breathing in and out through your nose while exercising unless you have a medical condition where your doctor has advised you to breathe our through your mouth. When you breath through the nose, you are able to maintain control over the duration and smoothness of your breath and the efficiency of your yoga practise is heightened.
When you do yoga, ensure that you are making slow, deliberate and smooth movements. Remember that the practise of moving through an exercise is as important as the final posture. Do not bounce, jerk or bend fast. Yoga helps to stretch and strengthen the delicate nerve and muscle tissues. Moving slowly and gently helps you to avoid injuries by avoiding strain and tension. At times your group yoga teacher or your personal yoga instructor will instruct you to hold your positions while you breathe gently. This hold greatly increases the effectiveness of the exercise.
Except for the warm-up sequence, Yogasanas are to be repeated three times each. Your yoga practise should be done 5 times a week or atleast 3 times a week. But then again, caution must be exercised because overdoing Yoga can also be harmful. Practising Yoga more than once a day can have the effect of overstimulating your nervous system making you feel tense, irritable and high strung. If you want to remain active on other days, try some other activity like kickboxing, gym workouts, cardio exercises such as running, swimming or bicycling.
After finishing every three or four asanas, rest for about 60 seconds. Completely relax and let yourself go limp. Try to stop all thought and aim at resting your mind and body.
Allow for Variations in Balance
You body is always affected by your own reaction to stress, sleep, diet and lots of other psychological factors which is why your suppleness and sense of balance will keep varying from day to day. In the mornings, your body will be stiff whereas your body will be much more pliable and flexible in the evenings. You must not be discouraged by these slight variations. If you practice regularly either alone or with your yoga instructor, you will see a steady growth and progress in your practice. The most important thing to remember is not how well you perform your asanas on any particular day but whether you do them diligently every single day.
Do not Exercise When Ill
Do not perform any form of physical exercise when you are sick even it’s just a minor cold. When you have illness however mild, your body requires rest more than anything else and your body just wants to get by through the day and is better off without you placing additional stress and pressures upon it! In some cases where you may have a sinus infection or head cold, doing yoga may succeed in spreading the infection or aggravate and worsen the symptoms. The good part is that you can practise breathing and meditation anytime though.
Special Advice for Women
Women are advised not to practice strenuous yogasanas during their menstrual period. A lot of yoga poses exert pressure on and stretch the abdominal area which could cause increased bleeding. Also do remember that Yoga stimulates the hormonal system and when you combine it with the natural hormonal changes of your period, increased nervousness, anxiety, irritability and mood swings may result. Take a break from vigorous yogasanas during you period and use the extra time for meditation and study.
We also suggest that nursing mothers refrain from doing Yoga poses until their babies are completely weaned. Hormonal changes that are induced by Yoga can affect the chemical composition of Mother’s Milk and are therefore not suitable for the well being of your child. Meditation and pranayama can however be practised anytime.
If you are pregnant, we recommend that no asanas be done during the first trimester. After that you can start a limited pre natal yoga session under the guidance of a trained pre natal yoga specialist or a maternity specialist. But that is only if there have been no complications and your doctor approves of it. Practise of certain yoga postures during the last 6 months of the term can help in an easier delivery and also a relaxed and a happier baby. As always, meditation and breathing exercises can always be safely practised during the entire term of a woman’s pregnancy.
Atin Dasgupta is the founder of Wellintra Fitness and is an artist-entrepreneur who makes music and builds businesses in his spare time!