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Boby - Breath - Mind

Yoga Asana

I am New to Yoga - How do i Start my Practice ?

Posted on - Thu Apr 2017       Yoga Asana / by Bharath Shetty

Yoga Baratha

The frequently asked question by majority of common people is – How do I start Yoga practice? What comes first – touching toes or standing on head or how long to hold my breath in Pranayama?  This is not the beginning.  The start point of yoga practice is breath not with Pranayama but Breathing Kriyas as it builds a strong base for asana practice. 

Breathing Kriyas corrects wrong breathing, develops breathing awareness, breathing harmony and connects body and mind through breath. It releases muscular fatigue and tensions and relaxes the body. A relaxed body becomes supple for asana practice.

 There are several Breathing Kriyas but I have picked 3 important one namely (1) Mukha Dhouthi (2) Agnisara (3) Kapalabathi.  It is advisable to do these Kriyas in the mornings on empty stomach.

  1. Mukha Dhouthi: ‘Dhouthi’ means ‘throwing out’.  There are many Dhouthis explained in Hatha Yoga Texts like Vastra Dhouthi, Vaman Dhouthi, Danda Dhouthi etc. but Mukha Dhouthi is best for Beginners of Yoga practice. It is simple, builds good coordination for asana and pranayama practices, effective cleansing practice for stomach, small and large intestine, lungs and throat.  It also connects with the 5 pranas (prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana) for during exhalation the whole body squeezes and during inhalation the entire body expands.

          Practice Technique:

  • Stand with legs around one to one and half feet wide.
  • Bend the knees and slightly lean forward around 30 to 45 degree and rest the arms on the respective thighs keeping the arms straight.
  • Make sure feet is firm and entire body relaxed. 
  • Inhale deeply through the nose; take in as much air as possible. During exhalation pull the entire abdomen inwards and exhale forcefully through the mouth.
  • Gradually repeat around 25 to 30 times.
  • Stand in Shitali Tadasana, relax and observe the changes in the body especially the area around the navel, breath and mind.

 

 

Benefits:  Best practice for those –

  • working under stress as it helps to slowdown the breath and relax the mind and body.
  • suffering from asthma, bronchitis, allergy, constipation, migraine, tension headache, menstruation problems, etc.

Limitations: 

For people with high blood pressure, heart related problems, hernia, dry cough, throat infections, vertigo etc. it is advisable to practice under the guidance of a qualified teacher.

  1. Agnisara: Agni is ‘fire’ and Sara is ‘fanning’.  As you all know the physical body is made of Pancha Mahabhuta (5 elements) - Akash (Ether), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Jala (water) and Prithvi (earth). The Agni represents sun energy in our body.  In the Samana prana around the nabi or navel there are three tips of fire - Mandagni, Agni, Tivragni. Regular practice of Agnisara brings a balance in the three fires, expels all toxins from the system and builds lightness and freshness in the body.

          Practice Technique:

There are three techniques. You start with the first, move to the second and then to the third depending on your comfort and progress.

 First technique: 

  • Follow position ‘a to c’ as mentioned under Mukha Dhothi.
  • When you inhale push the abdomen outward and as you exhale pull the abdomen inward.
  • Repeat around 10 to 15 time then take a break then repeat 3 to 5 rounds. 
  • Stand in Shitali Tadasana, relax and observe the changes in the body especially the area around the navel, breath and mind.
  • Once comfortable move to the second technique.

 Second technique:

  • Follow position ‘a to c’ as mentioned under Mukha Dhothi.
  • Keeping the breath neutral move the abdomen slowly front and back.  Focus on the movement of the abdomen.
  • Repeat around 10 to 15 time then take a break then repeat 3 to 5 rounds. 
  • Stand in Shitali Tadasana, relax and observe the changes in the body especially the area around the navel, breath and mind.
  • Once comfortable move to the third technique.

 Third technique:

  • Follow position ‘a to c’ as mentioned under Mukha Dhothi.
  • Exhale completely through the mouth.  Hold the exhaled breath.  While holding the breath, pull the stomach front and back in rapid succession.  In the beginning do it slowly.
  • When you need to breathe in, relax the abdomen and slowly breathe in.
  • Repeat this up to twelve times.
  • Stand in Shitali Tadasana, relax and observe the changes in the body especially the area around the navel, breath and mind.

 

Benefits:

  • Reduces excess weight around abdomen and waist.  
  • Helps people with constipation, indigestion, obesity, menstruation problem, diabetes, breath related problems, migraines, tension headache etc.
  • Keeps the back muscle supple and strong.

Limitations:

  • There is no limitation for the first and second technique.
  • People with high blood pressure, heart related problems, back and neck problem, hernia, etc. it is advisable to practice the third technique under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
  • Avoid practice during menstruation.
  1. Kapalbhati: Kapal is ‘forehead’ and bhati is ‘shining’.  This technique is widely practiced in the yoga world. This technique is explained differently by different schools.  Kapalbhati has soft to very active practices.  The basic practice can be done by anyone as it warms the body and prepares the body for asanas.  The breath moves rapidly; it becomes lighter and creates more space in the lungs.  Regular practice detoxifies all the systems in our body and makes the body, breath and mind well-coordinated. 

Practice Technique: 

  • Sit in any meditative asana with uplifted spine and relaxed body. 
  • Place your hands on the thighs in any mudra.
  • Eyes softly closed, face well relaxed. 
  • If you are a beginner start with the first stage.  Take a deep breath and as you exhale pull your stomach inward. Exhalation is active so just throw out your breath.  Do as much as you comfortably can. Inhalation happen naturally.
  • Do it for 15 to 20 times and then stop and watch for 30 seconds.  Repeat around 3 to 5 rounds.  After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
  • Once you are comfortable and well-grounded with this practice, move to the next stage wherein the speed of exhalation is 60 to 90 per second.  Try to practice it continuously for 90 seconds.  Stop the practice, relax with eyes closed and observe the changes – the breath stops for a few seconds everything becomes blank.  This is called Kevala Kumbaka.
  • Once the breath is normal repeat this practice 3 to 5 times.

Benefits: 

  • Helpful for people with sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, tension headache, migraine, depression, insomnia, digestion related problems etc.
  • Improves lung capacity, massages the diaphragm and activates samana prana.
  • Improves blood circulation.
  • Body is active, breath is long and light and mind is quiet and clear.

Limitations: 

  • Avoid practice in the night.
  • Avoid during menstruation and pregnancy.
  • There is no limitation for the first stage but people with high blood pressure, heart related problems, back and neck problem, hernia, vertigo etc. it is advisable to practice the advanced stage under the guidance of a qualified teacher. 

 

Next: IndeaYoga Beginner Series - Yoga Practice for Every One

 


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