Am I doing Yoga the right way?

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“Am I doing it right or wrong?” is a common question that arises in a practitioner’s mind.

Before we get to the correction, the first thing to do is detecting the problem. This is possible through experience and the right kind of knowledge. The easiest tool for detection is the body itself. If the body is comfortable and the mind is relaxed, the chances are that you are doing it right. Due to the influence of or inspiration from widely available mediums (books, CDs, Internet etc) of Yoga, we try to match up to or compete with them. The level of perfection shown in different mediums is an outcome of the demonstrator’s extensive practice and other technical aspects.

For me as a Yoga practitioner, the perfect and final level of any Yoga practice should be a blissful state of body and mind. Since every body is different, so is the final state. To achieve that blissful state, Yoga demands a consistent progressive approach. There are many aspects that should be taken into consideration while practicing Yoga. The truest and best is described in Patanjali Yog Sutra (PYS) as Ashtang Yog. It explains the preparation process, the actual performance and the postyoga relaxation beautifully.

The definition of Asana mentioned in PYS is, “Sthir Sukham Āsanam”, a posture that is steady and comfortable. One may not be able to imitate the exact same posture as they have seen somewhere or someone else doing but one can attain the principal advantage of the posture with the right technique of execution. To achieve a balanced and technically correct final position of this posture, it is necessary to start the posture in a balanced and technically correct state of body and mind.

As I always try to mention to my students “if your initial step of the posture is correct, so will your final position be”. Every posture itself contains many postures. If you attend to each and every step of the posture separately, you will automatically reach the final position correctly. For example, one very essential posture in Yoga is the ‘Padmāsan’ or Lotus Pose. People are keen to sit in ‘Padmāsan’ but find it difficult due to the lack of practice of sitting down. Lets see the posture step by step:

1. First sit upright with your legs stretched out straight, keeping them close to each other.

2. Bend the left leg, then hold the left ankle using your right hand and place it on top of the right thigh (you can take the help of your left hand to keep the left knee on the floor).

3. In the same way, lift the right leg using the left hand and place it on top of left leg.

Check the posture. Both knees on the floor, ankles and forelegs crossing each other (may be with some pain), sit upright, hands in Jnāna Mudra, and you are in the final position of the posture.

As mentioned above, I have broken down the posture into three steps. This same posture can be achieved by breaking these three steps down into mini-steps to go slower depending on a person’s body condition. So if you observe and keep improving each step of the posture, you will gradually reach the perfect final posture comfortably.

There is one more important part of Yoga that should be practised correctly – the Prerequisite Posture. This has also been described as the Counter Posture Formula in modern physical education. Sometimes practitioners find themselves comfortable on one side of the body more than the other. For example if touching toes in Pādhastāsan (forward bend) is difficult, one should first improve the backward bend. Or the level of perfection with which you perform Chakrāsan (wheel pose), will be similar to the level of perfection in your Halāsan (plough pose). But after all those physical detections and corrections one should not forget the yogic approach of integration also.

Image courtesy: Buzzle

This is a guest post by our Ombassador Yoga Guru, Shri. Vinayak Dixit for the Omved Blog. 

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