The social media might be glutted with yogis with the flexibility of a sea-lion, but much of it comes under very advanced yoga which is usually quite hard to do. Some students might be very passionate to take up such dedicated courses, but I am sure there are a lot like me who want to keep it very simple: some light yoga with maximum benefits.
I am 22 and have just completed my Bachelors in Engineering. For the past year, I had been immured in assignments, projects, studies and applications for further studies, all of which demanded a considerable amount of desk time. I found myself gaining a few kilos, which brought a lot of torpor in my day-to-day activities. I would easily get fatigued and overslept frequently. Damaging my health at 22 resounded in my mind as my motherâ€™s (who is a doctor) dark maxim- â€˜baithe-baithe boodha ho jaayega (you will reach senility if you just keep sitting)â€™.
Startled, I decided to take up a sport. The problem was: all the sporting options required at least another player, a partner. Somehow, this did not materialise for me. I soon began running but the ground was a few kilometres from my hostel which was enough to eventually dissuade me. It was then that I decided to start with a yoga schedule.
How to get started with yoga
Although the internet is replete with yoga training sessions and videos, it is advisable to take up an instructor if you are going for more advanced asanas. However, if youâ€™re a naive beginner looking for some easy asanas to start with, do not fret, the internet is mostly trustworthy. I was fortunate because a few years ago, I had already taken a yoga class which had given me enough knowledge to formulate a basic yoga routine.
The drawback to taking up yoga on an individual basis is that you are doing it unsupervised, which means there is no one to correct your bad postures or tell you what youâ€™re doing wrong. You can also end up spraining your muscles if youâ€™re doing advanced asanas on your own. As a student, this can be critical to your time.
If you lack confidence, you can look for a local yoga group around you (these can be found in nearby public parks) to avoid callous injuries. While joining a group can be fun and motivating, it does have its own schedule so you should gauge your schedule before you join. Also ask around for a certified instructor.
Pick the right yoga mat
Yoga requires minimal accessories but the most important thing to do is to get yourself a yoga mat. It is posited that one should always use the same mat during yoga. Cosmic energy that is radiated from the body gets stored in the mat (quite similar to as in meditation). Yoga mats are easily available online but I had a local textile market nearby from where I was able to get a cotton mat at a fairly decent price. I would recommend against using plastic mats, since you can smell the plastic while doing some exercises. It is a bad distraction and the smell is rather unpleasant.
Choose a time that suits your schedule
While there is no specific time as such for yoga, I chose the morning since I was pretty much busy throughout the day. Doing yoga in the morning has the additional benefit that it keeps you active throughout the day, and as the traditional Indians say- the morning air (brahma-vayu) is an elixir for the body.
I would get up in the morning at five and freshen up by five-thirty or six. I would generally take a banana and a glass of water before I proceeded with my routine. These are optional and depend on your energy levels as you exercise. You can start without them and decide for yourself in a couple of days. Many such subtle things will be conspicuous to you within a few days, which will help you curate your session better and make it entrenched into your daily life (like your clothing, room temperature etc.).
The same yoga routine can be easily shifted to evening, but make sure to maintain a gap of at least three hours between your lunch and yoga session.
Yoga is fun as there are many easy asanas that you can make, and their benefits are extraordinary. If youâ€™re a beginner, you can pick elements from the basic schedule I have mentioned below and expect considerable progress in fifteen to twenty days. This is the schedule I daily follow.
Warm up and chanting
To start with, close your eyes and take deep breaths five to ten times. Try to make this process as slow as possible, to detach from the pace that is inherent to a studentâ€™s dynamic life. Once you know youâ€™re focused, take a deep breath and chant â€˜ommmâ€™. Repeat this three to five times. In a few days, you will be able to feel the sound echo inside your head and a wave travel through your body, which is quite a blissful experience.
Chanting â€˜omâ€™ will also internalise your energy. Now, do some basic joint exercises like next twisting, shoulder rolling, wrist movements. These are necessary to avoid further injuries. All these exercises can be done sitting. Then stand up and do forward and backward bends and a few rounds of knee bending. You can also do some twisting exercises while standing.
Full body stretch 1: and surya-namaskar
Upon completing this, start with the surya-namaskar. I do this since it stretches all the major muscles of the body while also increasing concentration and endurance. One round of surya-namaskar takes about 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how swiftly you do it. 10 rounds daily are optimal and you can increase them gradually to 30 or 50 as you start feeling more comfortable.
Full body stretch 2: ashtanga-namaskar
After this, try ashtanga-namaskar. In its flow it resembles the surya-namaskar but the asanas here are very, very different. Ashtanga-namaskar comes with innumerable variations and you can choose one as per your flexibility and stamina. One amply built round should take you about 3 to 10 minutes. Do at least 3 rounds of these daily and increase to 10 or 15 or make them more intensive as you master the basic routine.
Breathing exercises: prana-yama
Since I was not looking for anything specific for the hands, the core, the spine or the legs, these two routines were very much enough for me. Enough, but only physically. I usually pile up a lot of mental stress due to my ever-wandering mind, always lost in this thing or the other. To calm the mind and relax, a routine of Pranayama is magical.
There are a lot of breathing exercises- anlom-vilom, bhastrika, brahmari, sheetal-pranayama- all of which can be done one after the other, five to ten times each, for maximum benefit. Be careful here and donâ€™t rush through the process. Take it slow and focus on your breathing. This should take you about 20 minutes to complete (the physical exercises should take about 20-30 minutes, interspersed with one minute breaks).
Relaxing: The shava-asana
Lastly, and most importantly, is the shava-asana (corpse-posture) which serves as the ultimate relaxing posture. Assuming shava-asana you shouldÂ lie down, spread your arms and legs apart, close your eyes and start counting your breaths from one to sixty and sixty to one in their natural rhythm. Here, you can also add a few rounds of â€˜omâ€™ chanting. If you fall asleep, youâ€™re in the realms of yogic sleep which letâ€™s just say is a platinum-standard sleep.
But donâ€™t forget to set an alarm or else you miss your precious lessons!