Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Yoga is ideally done on a mat. Yet, since it is a very practical science, it also offers practices meant to give relief to those who are constantly on the go. In ancient times, this would have meant practices for warriors or dancers, to prepare them for the rigours of their art or give them relief before and after their actual practice. These practices may now be used for those who lead a hectic lifestyle or who have a sedentary one.
These practices, as shown, may be done standing or seated. They may be done together or individually. You may also chose practices from among these to provide relief for a particular area of your torso that is aggravated by either excessive use or disuse. For instance, all of these are ideal for those who sit before the computer for long or must commute long distances, or travel often. They give relief to the neck and upper body region while the third pose, like kati chakrasana (torso circle) unknots tension along the entire spine. The release of such tensions knots not only de-stresses you emotionally, but is also preventive in neck pain, chronic backache and high blood pressure. It also stimulates the mind by restarting clogged circulation, and makes you feel fresh, alive and alert.
Shameem Akthar, yoga acharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, takes you through five practices that may be done anywhere.
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and information about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com.
This article only attempts to enthuse readers towards yoga practice and complement your existing practice. Yoga is best learnt under the personal guidance of a teacher.
Greeva chakra (Neck circle, variation one)
Inhale and exhaling turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Inhale and bring your head back to centre. Exhale and turn to look over your left shoulder. This is one round. Do up to four rounds. This may be done several times during a working day. Remember to keep the movement gentle and very slow.
Benefits: Releases tension along the neck. Prevents neck pain and is therapeutic in chronic back problems. Refreshes the mind. Breath coordination helps develop mental focus.
Greeva chakra (Neck circle, variation two)
Inhale and tilt your head to the right, keeping your face straight ahead. Do not lift your right shoulder. Use your right hand over your head as shown to make the stretch along the neck more intense. Do this gently. Breathe normally, holding for a count of five. Release and repeat for the other side. This is one round. Do up to three rounds. This may be done several times during the day.
Benefits: Same as the previous pose.
Kati chakrasasana (Torso circle)
Keep your torso erect and hug yourself with both hands as shown so that each hand is holding the opposite shoulder. Inhale and exhaling twist your head to the right, looking over your right shoulder. Inhale and bring your head back to the centre. Exhale and twist your head over your left shoulder. Inhale and bring your head back to the centre. This is one round. You may do up to 10 rounds.
Benefits: Works the entire torso gently, preventive in all spinal problems. Therapeutic in high blood pressure and diabetes. Aids weight loss.
Gomukhasana (Cowface pose)
Keep your torso erect. Hug yourself with both hands as shown so each hand is holding the opposite shoulder. Inhale. Exhaling lower your head so that your forehead touches the fold at the right elbow, if your right hand is above. Hold for a few seconds, breathing deeply. Release. Now pass your left hand over your right, hug yourself to repeat the practice. This is one round. Do up to three rounds. This may be done several times during the day.
Benefits: Gives a gentle spinal traction, relieving stress, preventing spinal problems. Is soothing in emotional upsets.
Skandha chakra (Shoulder roll)
Scrunch your right shoulder towards your right ear and roll it back three times. Then roll it forwards thrice. Repeat for your left shoulder. You may do this for both shoulders together as well. This may be done several times through the day. Breathe normally throughout.
Benefits: Is therapeutic in backache, high blood pressure, diabetes, and preventive in spinal problems, especially upper back and neck region.