General guidelines for yoga practice
Sauca means cleanliness, an important pre-requisite for yogic practice. It includes cleanliness of the surroundings, body and mind.
Yogic practice should be performed in a calm and quiet atmosphere with a relaxed body and mind.
Yogic practice should be done on an empty, or light, stomach. Should you feel weak, consume a small amount of honey in lukewarm water.
The bladder and bowels should be empty before starting yogic practices.
A mattress, yoga mat or folded blanket should be used for the practice.
Light and comfortable cotton clothes are preferred, to facilitate easy movement of the body.
Yoga should not be performed in a state of exhaustion, illness, while in a hurry or in acute stress conditions.
In cases of chronic disease, pain and cardiac problems, a physician or a yoga therapist should be consulted before performing yoga.
Yoga experts should be consulted before doing yogic practices during pregnancy.
Practice sessions should start with a prayer or invocation as it creates a conducive environment to relax the mind.
Yogic practices should be performed slowly, in a relaxed manner, with awareness of the body and breath.
Do not hold your breath unless instructed to do so.
Breathing should be always through the nostrils unless instructed otherwise.
Do not hold body tightly, or jerk the body at any point of time.
Perform the practices according to your own capacity.
It takes some time to get good results, so persistent and regular practice is essential.
There are contra-indications and limitations for each yoga practice and such contra-indications should always be kept in mind.
Yoga session should end with meditation, deep silence.
A bath may be taken only after 20-30 minutes of practice.
Food may be consumed only after 20-30 minutes of practice.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
A few dietary guideline can ensure that the body and mind are flexible and well prepared for practice.
A vegetarian diet is usually recommended, and for a person over the age of 30, two meals a day should suffice, except in the case of illness or very high physical activity or labour.
HOW YOGA CAN HELP
Yoga is essentially a path to liberation from all bondage.
However, medical research in recent years has uncovered many physical and mental benefits that yoga offers, corroborating the experiences of millions of practitioners. A small sampling of research shows that:
Yoga is beneficial for physical fitness, musculoskeletal functioning and cardiovascular health.
It is beneficial in the management of diabetes, respiratory disorders, hypertension, hypo-tension and many lifestyle-elated disorders.
Yoga helps to reduce depression, fatigue, anxiety disorders and stress. Yoga regulates menopausal symptoms. In essence, yoga is a process of creating a body and mind that are steppingstones, and not hurdles, to an exuberant and fulfilling life.