Americans are in the process of healing from the events of Sept. 11. Most of us are under additional stress that shows up in our bodies by lack of sleep, headaches, overeating and irritation. To combat the symptoms of stress and fatigue I recommend a good dose of yoga.
Yoga has been around for about 5,000 years. It is a meditative, stretching-based workout that originated in India. Literally translated, it means, to solder a union between mind and body. The regular practice of yoga can increase energy levels, flexibility, strength, relaxation, and decrease stress. (Sounds like a wonder drug!) Other benefits of a regular program include improved circulation, improved blood pressure, improved lung capacity and pain relief -- need I say more?
There are eight major schools of yoga, but Hatha yoga is the most commonly practiced in the Western world. This style of yoga emphasizes different body positions (asanas) combined with breathing techniques. Have you ever done the "Downward Dog?"
One of the most commonly used progressions in Hatha yoga is the Sun Salutation. It is often used as a warm-up, and can be repeated over and over again to build strength, flexibility and balance.
The following exercises make up the Sun Salutation. If you try these at home, make sure you have a clear space and a soft surface, such as a mat or carpet, to lie on. Remember to consult with your physician before starting any exercise program.
Stand with feet together. Body is upright and hands are clasped together in prayer position close to the heart.
Arching Back Pose
Stretch arms overhead and slightly arch your back, keeping your eyes to the ceiling. Inhale deeply.
Standing Forward Bend
Reach arms forward and down to the floor. Place hands beside your feet, your head to your knees. Exhale deeply.
Keep your right leg stationary; reach your left leg behind you in lunge position. Your right leg should be bent and your left leg should be straight. Inhale deeply.
Bring your right leg back to meet your left leg so that both legs and arms are now straight. (You should look like you are ready to do a push-up). Exhale deeply.
Lower your hips and legs to the ground, lift your chest to the ceiling. Arms should be straight, and hands are pressing firmly into the floor. Inhale deeply.
Downward Dog Pose
Tuck toes under and straighten your legs, pushing your hips back and up to the ceiling. You should look like an inverted V. Press arms and heels into the floor. Exhale deeply.
Deep Lunge Position
Bring your left foot forward between your hands, keeping your front knee bent and back leg straight behind you as in the first Lunge position. Inhale deeply.
Bring your right foot forward to meet your left foot. Both legs are straight as in the Standing Forward Bend. Relax head and neck area, dropping your head to your knees. Exhale deeply.
Arching Back Pose
Reach arms forward and bring your body to an upright position. Extend arms overhead while you slightly arch your back. Inhale deeply.
Back to the beginning. Pose with feet together. Body is tall, and hands are clasped together in prayer position. Exhale deeply.
It is important that during times of stress we listen to our bodies. Sleeping longer hours, drinking more water, eating the right foods and exercising at least three days a week are important to maintain balance. The Sun Salutation is a great way to start your day with energy and vitality.
If you have any questions or comments, contact Ani at Ani_Dumas@jcc-gla.org