2. Times and Duration
Morning, around dawn, is the best time for practicing yoga. At that time, the environment is calm and less polluted as compare to the other timings. Morning practice generally gives a great feeling of having started the day in the right direction. Your mind is alert, and with increased circulation you feel energetic to do your work better. However, if morning time is not convenient to you because of your work schedule or other commitments, any other convenient time can be selected. Choose a time with a minimum of foreseeable disturbances. Practice yoga at least five times a week, half and hour to one hour every day preferably at the same time each day. Regularity and punctuality are very important. Like food, water, sleep and other necessities of life, yoga also becomes a necessity and body wants it at the appointed time. Be courageous, determined and committed to your yoga practice.
Asanas are best practiced outdoors in a garden, near a lake, river or sea having pleasant surroundings. Being surrounded by nature, birds singing, soothing green colour of plants, fragrance of flowers, all make an ideal environment for yoga practice. But do not practice in a strong wind, in the cold, in the air that is dirty, smoky or with unpleasant odour. If weather or other circumstances do not favour outdoor practice, you can practice in a well-ventilated room where there is calmness and quiet environment. It is importance to have a proper seat of asana on which you do your practice. Use a clean, cotton sheet (preferably white) spread on a carpet, rug or a blanket to make a good seat if you are doing your practice indoors. Do not use a spongy or air-filled mattress, as this does not give a good support to the spine. If you are doing your yoga practice outdoors on grass or lawn, put a thin plastic sheet on the grass below your normal seat to avoid any dampness.
Wear loose, light colour, cotton clothing which is comfortable. In winters, wear some woolen over the normal cotton clothing or a warm tracksuit. Avoid synthetic as they restrict perspiration. Remove your shoes, socks, belt, glasses, wristwatch and any heavy jewellery.
5. Breathing and Relaxation
Always breathe through the nose unless specific instructions by the teacher are given to breath from the mouth. Try to coordinate your breath with the asana. Do not hold the breath during the posture, as this will cause strain. Relaxation is very important in yoga. The heart and breathing rate should not be allowed to increase excessively. If it happens pause and relax for a short period. Relax in Shavasana (corpse posture) at the end of your asana practice (about five minutes for every half and hour or asana practice). Do yoga according to your capacity so that you don’t overstrain your system. Do not force the body beyond its capacity. Any pain felt in a posture should be temporary. Persistent pain is a sign of incorrect practice or of a physical problem.When you start yoga for the first time or resume your yoga practice after a long break, you may feel some discomfort or pain. It will disappear after three-four days.
Your attitude is the key to your success in yoga. As a beginner, begin realistically. The rigidity and sloth of all the past years will not go suddenly, it takes a little time. So, be patient and kind to your body. In the beginning, it is effort that is important, not the result. Whatever you are able to do, try to do as well as you can. Try to do each asana with a real love and appreciation for your body. With conscientious and regular practice, you will gain confidence to over come any limitations and tensions you may have.
Yogic is not only physical postures, but also a sadhana that brings complete harmony of body, mind and spirit. Gradually learn to synchronize the physical part of an asana with your breathing and concentration or awareness. Practicing yoga with eyes closed gives immense joy and satisfaction. In the beginning, however, when you are not familiar with the practice, you should keep your eyes open to seed and the learn the correct way of an asana being done by the teacher, fellow practitioners or a TV host. People suffering form depression should also practice yoga with eyes opened.
- Don’t swim, run or do any other heavy workout immediately after doing asana. After an hour’s yoga session, allow 25-30 minutes for the body temperature and blood pressure to come down before doing any hectic activity.
- People of all age groups and sexes may practice asana. People with fractured bones or who are suffering from chronic problems such as tuberculosis, hernia, heart malfunction, persistent backache, and should consult a yoga teacher or a doctor before starting asana. It is recommended that such people learn the asana on an individual basis or in small group under the direct guidance and supervision of a yoga expert.
- Women should avoid doing asana during three-four days of their menstruation period. They should also not do any strenuous asana from sixth months of pregnancy till the third month of delivery.