If you’re like most people these days, there are times when your body aches from overwork, your head throbs from daily pressures, you’re tense, nervous, you’ve got worries. You don’t got enough exercise, enough sleep, and there doesn’t seem to be time in the day to do all the things you need to do.
Peace, hassled friend. A together spirit can revive great quantities of sullied flesh.
Sound like an ancient Hindu proverb? It’s not, but it might as well be; for it’s precisely that philosophy upon which the ancient Hindu teachings are based.
Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning yoke, union—getting it together, in the jargon of today. There are four basic kinds of yoga: pane, the yoga of study; bhokti, the yoga of devotion; karma, the yoga of good works; and bathe, yoga of the body. Botha is the one your tired, aching bones will be most concerned with.
The yoga of the body breaks down into two parts—pronoyomo, or breathing routines, and osanas, which are the various postures (not exercises. because postures arc less strenuous and more cerebral) the yoga practitioner uses to get his body in tune with his spirit. At one time there were reportedly 84,000 different asonos, now there are closer to 84.
But you don’t have to master all 84 to lift that weight from your shoulders and achieve true happiness. Becoming adept at just a few will give you a good start in the right direction.
The beauty of yoga, of course, is that it can be practiced almost anywhere—even in an airplane (for the benefit of your fellow passengers, you can dispense with the chants). And even on a short flight, there’s time to experiment with end feel the calming effects of yoga, and to see how well this relaxing mental/physical regimen complements oven the most meager exercise program.
As one writer has said. “The philosophy of yoga . . . is that there’s enough huff-and-puff competition in a 28 day . . . that keeping fit shouldn’t be a fight it should be a joy. It should work. And the fitness so gleaned shouldn’t be confined to lack of paunch. It should include lack of tension, the positive thinking without pushing it that comes from positive living and integrated physical/ mental getting on.”
Amen. So why not take a few minutes right now to carve out a little piece of Nirvana for yourself. Here’s how: First. slip oft your shoes, loosen your belt, remove any jewelry that might be too tight, and your glasses, if you can read without them. This eliminates pressure on your body and allows good circulation and a feeling of freedom.
Begin with some quiet breathing to relax and refresh: sitting in your seat, feet flat on the floor (at home you may want to pull your feet up under you and sit crosslogged), straighten but not stiffen your spine. Relax your arms. With eyes closed, inhale slowly through the nostrils until you feel you’ve completely filled your lungs. Then slowly begin to exhale until you feel you’ve completely emptied them. Repeat seven times each time trying to feel as though you’re regenerating yourself.
After the breathing exercise, try a simple spinal twist: this easy way to relieve back tension is excellent for long flights (as well as for those tiring days behind a desk). Once again, sit with feet flat on the floor. Place your right hand on your left knee, left hand on the left armrest of your seat. With chin parallel to the floor and eyes closed, slowly turn to the left (using your hands to push and pull you) until your chin is over your loft shoulder and you feel a gentle pull on the spine. Hold this pose for a moment, then release all tension, slowly turning to the front again. Repeat on your right side, using left hand on right knee, right hand on right armrest, turning slowly until your chin is over your right shoulder. This asasnas may be repeated two or three times on each side. But do it slowly and gently.
FEET AND LEGS
Here’s one to relax your feet and legs. With feet on the floor, point toes as far front as possible. then point toes backward as though you’re trying to touch your shins. Next, turn ankles outward, keeping knees straight. Then turn them inward. Do all motions three times in each direction, then rotate ankles slowly in large circles three times in each direction. This too, should be done with your eyes closed. If you’re doing the asasna correctly, you’ll feel the motion throughout your entire leg.
HEAD, NECK, SHOULDERS
For relieving head, neck, and shoulder tension, you’ll need to do a bit more stretching. Sit, relaxed, with eyes closed. Inhale slowly and deeply raising your shoulders upward as though you’re trying to make thom touch your ears. Exhale as you push your arms downward; inhale as you bend your shoulders back end try to touch your shoulder blades together. Finally, exhale as you try to touch your shoulders in front of you. Then just relax. Go completely limp and let your shoulders fall where they may. Repeat no more than three times.
Now. for the best part—total relaxation. This asasna is most effective when you’re lying on your back. but it can be successfully improvised under almost any conditions. The most Important thing for you to remember is to remain absolutely immobile for the duration of this posture. Sit wah spine relaxed and head upright, with feet flat on the floor. Place hands—palms upturned—on your armrests. Close your eyes and take advantage of the soaring freedom of your airplane ride. Visualize yourself floating on a soft cloud; you’ve got no boundaries, no destinations—just a clear, cool feeling of tranquility. Beginning with your feet, imagine every part of your body experiencing the same serenity until you progress all the way to your head. Hold this posture only as long as you’re comfortable. Then slowly move your forgers and toes. take a deep breath, open your eyes . . . And awaken to a whole new you.
Author Khadi Ba Karim (Khadine Koester) began her study of yoga in 1967, and since that time has been on the staffs of several New Jersey schools and organizations teaching Botha Yoga. She uses what she calls Yoga Therapy to help physicians treat special physically handicapped patients.