I have been practicing yoga for the past 6 years.
Every time there is a new comer in the class or just to reiterate, my yoga teacher, demonstrates 4 basic practices. These are simple yet powerful, should be practiced by all and at all times, not just in a yoga class.
- Equal weight on both feet
How many of us stand on 1-1/2 feet, while standing in a queue or while waiting for a bus? Sometimes, we do this while carrying a heavy laptop bag or a shopping bag on our shoulders.
This simple self diagnosis will help you figure out how you stand:
- Stand barefoot, like how you would normally stand, in front of a mirror. Notice the position of your feet and the weight distribution on each foot
Ideally, when you stand, your feet should be pointed straight ahead with your weight evenly distributed and in the middle or arch of both feet. The arch of the feet has the connective tissue, plantar fascia, which helps absorb the force of impact to the ground. Any deviation from this and fascia of your foot will be overstressed. Running, carrying extra weight or standing for long periods will cause the fascia to break down. This affects your feet and every joint above it. Heel pain, ankle pain or knee pain might follow soon.
2. Straight posture at all times
How many of us slouch on the couch while watching TV or at a table while working on a computer? Research shows that a bad posture can harm joints and connective tissues, resulting in pain and even immobility.
When you slump and slouch, this is what happens to the body:
- Lower back gets loaded with compressed forces.
- Upper back gets overstretched and weak.
- Abdominals become inactive.
- Neck protrudes to compensate for the shift in weight.
- Organs get squished, affecting breathing and digestion.
To avoid these ill effects of a bad posture, the spine should be erect at all times.
3. Deep Breathing
The breath should be slow and steady, deep and pass through all the 5 chambers – the lower abdomen, stomach, diaphragm, chest and collar bone. The breathing cycle (one inhalation and one exhalation) is anywhere between 3 to 8 seconds. Focusing on the breath and tracing it helps increase the breathing cycle. Deep breathing, as we all know, helps in combating the effects of stress, helps in relaxation, gives a positive spin to everything that we face and helps in pain management (all mothers who have used Lamaze techniques during child birth can vouch for that!)
4. And finally, SMILE
By far, the most difficult one for me 🙂