In a state of bliss

In a state of bliss

Yoga can be the best way to train the body and elevate the mind so as to reach the higher states of our existence and strive to realise our true identity, writes Sharada Arun

In this current pandemic, with prohibitions on public events and social gatherings, there is less motivation for us to look trim or fit. This has led many of us to ignore fitness since most of us tend to equate fitness with just looking good but that’s not true as being fit goes deeper than looks and it is more about looking inwards.

Yoga’s holistic approach makes better sense now than ever before. When we start our journey on this planet, we get introduced to ourselves as the image that we see in the mirror, and our name is associated with that image. According to yoga, that image is just one part of our existence, there are other parts to us. There are five dimensions or layers to our existence as per this science: 

The food sheath: This is the one that we see as an image in the mirror.

The energy sheath: Also called prana, this arrives first in the mother’s womb and stays until the last day of our existence.

The mental sheath: Also the mind, which extends much beyond the physical body and consists of passions, emotions, feelings, and impulses. This sheath controls the food sheath and the energy sheath.

The intellect sheath: Which leads to thinking, reflecting, reasoning, discriminating, judging etc.

The bliss sheath: Which is a part of the universal energy. This sheath is always happy, knows all, heals all, and loves all.

As humans beings, we always struggle to elevate ourselves beyond the physical body. As our awareness increases, we transcend the boundaries of the physical body like pain, suffering etc., and reach the state of tolerance, healing, love and happiness. Here are some yoga poses that can be practised on a regular basis to improve immunity and lung capacity.

Lotus pose

Lotus pose is a classic yoga pose. Many a time it is used at the beginning and the end of the yoga practice. However, you need good flexibility in the legs and hips to perform this pose. 

How to perform this pose: Sit with your spine erect and legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and bring the right foot to the crease of the left pelvic joint. The sole of the left foot is pointing upwards to the sky. Now bend the left knee and bring the left foot on top of the left leg and place the foot on the right pelvic crease. The sole of the foot is pointing upwards to the sky. In case this feels uncomfortable, you can release the top leg and stay in Arda Padmasana (half-lotus). Slowly lean backward with the hand supporting your upper body and place the hands as far as behind as possible. Fingers are pointing forward. Now open the chest and neck. Breathe normally for 10-20 counts.

Benefits: Improves the flexibility of hips, ankles, and knees. This pose helps in building good posture. It calms the mind and improves lung capacity.

Extended side angle pose

Extended side angle pose helps us stabilise the legs and expand the sides of the rib cage facilitating deep breathing.

How to perform this pose: Stand with legs 3-4 feet apart. Widen the stance with the left foot pointing to the short end of the mat and the right foot pointing to the long end of the mat. Bend the left knee such that the left thigh becomes parallel to the mat. And the left knee and ankle are in one straight line. Place the left elbow on the left leg and extend the right arm above the head with the complete stretch on the right side body. Repeat the same pose on the other side.

Benefits: This is an isometric pose which tones the entire body. The pelvic stretch helps in strengthening the muscles in that area. The side body stretch helps in toning the obliques, chest and arms. 

King dancer pose

This is a beautiful backbend pose, which requires good flexibility, strength and stability all at once.

How to perform this pose: Start by standing straight in Tadasana. Grasp your left foot with your left hand and slowly lift the left leg behind you and bring your torso forward to balance on the right foot. Lift the right arm up and extend your backbend to its full extent.

Benefits: Improves core strength and the flexibility of chest abdomen, groin and thighs. The dancing king pose increases concentration and develops a sense of balance, stability and coordination as this opens the chest and lung capacity immensely.

Camel pose

This asana improves the posture and relieves lower back pain.

How to perform the pose: Get on your knees with legs hip-width apart. Breathe normally and keep your palms on the hips, fingers pointing downwards. Slowly push the hips forward and look up. Just do this movement a couple of times to warm up your back and hips.

Once you feel that your body is sufficiently warmed up, push your hips forward, arch your back, place your palms on the ankle and open your neck. Release into child pose.

Benefits: Stretches and strengthens the hips, shoulders and chest.