There is no better day to introspect about our deteriorating fitness levels than on World Health Day 2021 which is being marked on April 7. Initially, we thought it was the changing weather but summer has arrived and settled in long back which confirms the fact that this constant procrastination or postponement of difficult tasks is not occasional, instead it is turning out to be a permanent state given the Covid-19 curfews or lockdowns, social distancing norms and total technology dependence.
While the Covid-19 lockdown in the past year drove up stress and anxiety, this year it is evidently leaving us unenthusiastic to get things done and our motivation is on the ebb. This Wednesday on World Health Day 2021, we chalked up 5 Yoga exercises to beat lazy excuses like ‘Will do it tomorrow’, ‘Maybe next week’, ‘Will finish it soon’ or simply to keep procrastination at bay:
1. Balasana or Child’s Pose or Child’s Resting Pose of Yoga
Method: Sit on your heels on the floor or a yoga mat and keep your knees either together or wide apart. Slowly, exhale and bend forward to touch the floor with your forehead or rest it on a block or two stacked fists while keeping your arms alongside your body and palms facing up.
Alternatively, you can keep your palms facing down on the mat by reaching out your arms towards the front of the yoga mat. Now, if your knees are together, gently press your chest on the thighs or press your chest between the thighs if the knees are apart.
Relax the shoulders, jaw and eyes and find a comfortable place for the forehead as there is an energy point at its center, in between the eyebrows, that supports a “rest and digest” response by stimulating the vagus nerve. Hold onto the pose for as long as you like and pull your navel towards your spine while inhaling and softening your body and the arms while exhaling. Return to the sitting position on the heels slowly while inhaling and as if uncurling the spine.
Benefits: This beginner’s Yoga pose not only helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helps releasing the tension in the chest, back and shoulders but also helps if you have a bout of dizziness or fatigue during the day or during your workout. It can help relieve back pain as it is a gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs and ankles.
Precautions: This exercise is not recommended for pregnant women or those suffering from diarrhea or knee injury,
2. Bhujangasana or Cobra pose of Yoga
Method: Lie down flat on your stomach. Rest your palms by the side of your chest, arms close to your body, elbows pointing outward. Inhale and raise your forehead, neck and shoulders.
Raise your trunk using the strength of your arms. Look upward while breathing normally. Make sure that your stomach is pressed on the floor. Hold the pose for 5 seconds. Slowly lie back flat on your stomach. Turn your head to one side and rest your arms by the side of your body.
Benefits: The reclining back-bending asana of Yoga called Bhujangasana or Cobra pose strengthens the spine, butt, butt muscles, chest, abdomen, shoulders, lungs and improves blood circulation while also releasing the stress in one’s body.
Precautions: Though it is also a useful remedy for asthma patients, it is not to be performed during an asthma attack.
3. Viparita Karni or legs-up-the-wall pose of Yoga
Method: Lie straight on your back. Join both the legs and lift them up. Take the legs slightly behind to lift your lower back. Support the back by placing the palms on the lower back with elbows on the ground. Keep the legs perpendicular to the floor and your back inclined at an angle of 45-60 degrees with the floor. Breathe normally. Begin with 1-minute and then slowly increase the duration of practice to 10 minutes.
Benefits: This asana enables quicker movement of water from the small intestine to the larger intestine, which cleanses the stomach. It is also a great practice to stimulate the hormone system and strengthen the core. It allows you to completely relax your mind and body and helps to cool it down while refreshing the circulatory system.
This pose also helps in easing lower back pains, swollen ankles and varicose veins which are a common symptom of pregnancy.
Precautions: In case you suffer from severe eye problems such as glaucoma or have serious neck and back pains, do not perform this asana.
4. Vrikshasana or tree pose of Yoga
Method: Balance yourself on one leg, with the other one folded and supported on your inner thigh. Stretch out your hands above your head and point them directly upwards.
Clasp them together in anjali mudra. Gaze in the distance, shift the weight to your left leg while keeping the right knee bent in half lotus position and hold onto this posture for a few seconds before releasing and repeating the same with the alternate leg.
Benefits: This asana helps to bring balance to your mind and body. It makes your legs stronger and is a great hip opener as assists it the body in establishing pelvic stability and strengthens the bones of the hips and legs.
The shift of the entire body’s weight to each leg strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet. It also helps strengthen the thighs, calves and ankles and and helps improve focus.
Precautions: This asana should be avoided by those who suffer from vertigo or migraine or insomnia issues. Pregnant women can practice Vrikshasana till their second trimester but should avoid it in their last trimester.
5. Padmasana or lotus pose of Yoga
Method: Sit on the floor or on a Yoga mat with legs stretched out and spine erect. Bend the right knee and place it on the left thigh with the sole of the feet point upward and the heel close to the abdomen.
Repeat the same step with the other leg and place your hands on the knees in mudra position. Keeping the head straight and spine erect, close your eyes and take gentle long breaths in and out.
To promote a meditative state, breathe in and out deeply through your nose during this pose and switch legs by spending equal amounts of time with the opposite positioning. Since a lotus pose or Padmasana is not readily accessible to many practitioners, especially for people with tricky knees, half lotus is pretty comfortable and a good substitute of yoga’s most iconic postures.
Benefits: This pose helps promote good posture and maintains flexibility in one’s gluteal muscles along with the deep rotator muscles of hips. Since any vigorous activity like running can tighten the piriformis, half lotus pose helps in stretching it.
The piriformis can also be tightened due to inactivity by sitting too much. This asana opens the hips and stretches the feet and ankles.
Precautions: Padmasana should not be performed by those who have knee injury or any form of injury in the ankle or calf or those suffering from any back or spine discomfort or suffering from sciatica infections or weakness in the sciatic nerves.
Opting for a less strenuous activity or just remaining idle is natural at times but when it becomes prolonged due to hormonal deficiencies or environmental factors, it could become a problem and interfere with the proper functioning of the individual. Hence, these Yoga exercises are important.