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Yoga is a delicate form of body/mind exercise and therapy. Specific yoga asanas assist to realign the joints, increase flexibility, restore normal range of motion, and improve overall posture. Asanas also indirectly balance the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, and digestive systems. The systems in the bodywork as a symbiotic unit, where a positive change in one system usually results in a complementary change in all the other systems. On the other hand, if asanas are incorrectly practiced, serious complications may result in the systems mentioned above. Regular asana, breathing, and meditation practice maintains the physical body in optimum condition and promotes healing in an unhealthy body. Here are several yoga practice tips that will enhance your journey of reaching a balanced physical and mental state.

Asanas may be practiced by all age groups, male and female.

Do not practice the yoga asanas mechanically, be aware of your mental and physical state throughout the practice.

Take a cool or lukewarm shower before asana practice to awaken and prepare the mind and body for focused practice.

Breathing is the mainstay of yoga. Often when the asana becomes difficult, the tendency is to hold the breath without realizing. Keep breathing, even during the most complex asanas. Conscious breathing provides more energy during asana practice and helps to prevent injury.

Wear loose, light, non-binding, comfortable clothing; and remove any jewelry, or constricting accessories that may restrict the blood circulation when practicing yoga as the body must bend, twist, or elongate easily. It is helpful to wear regular workout clothes. Leggings and tank tops for women, and a t-shirt or tank top and shorts for men are recommended. Yoga is practiced barefoot.

Avoid yoga practice if you are: experiencing fractured bones, suffering from an acute or chronic ailment or disease, or recuperating from an operation. Consult a primary health care practitioner before commencing asana practice.

It is advisable to consult your physician before embarking on the journey of yoga. Find out if your body is physically fit to endure all the asanas.

It is important that asana practice is balanced, backward bends are followed by forwarding bends and vice versa, and that whatever is practiced on one side of the body is repeated on the other side. This concept of counter-asana is necessary to bring the body back to a balanced state. Specific counter-asanas are recommended for certain asanas described in this book. However, in some cases, when practicing a particular asana prescribed for therapeutic reasons, a counter-asana may not be needed.

Prenatal Yoga is a perfect time to nourish and positively influence a growing fetus. Just as a wonderful seed when properly cared for with healthy nutrition, air, water, and light blossoms into a flower, then into a delicious fruit; yoga gives the growing child a great head start. In the 9 months in the womb followed by the 3 subsequent years with the mother, the child establishes a fundamental rhythm, thought, breathing patterns, and a core value system to cope with in life. After this period, the child becomes a product of its ever-changing environment. The sitting asanas described in this book are very helpful during pregnancy as they stretch open the pelvis, making the delivery process easier. The standing asanas strengthen the legs and thighs and assist to carry the baby in the womb. The core and Mula Bandha locks are paramount to practice throughout the day during early pregnancy. These locks are helpful in recognizing and releasing tension in the pelvic muscles. During labor, this practice also helps to relax between contractions and prevent fatigue. During pregnancy, the body produces the hormone ‘relaxin’ which increases flexibility in the ligaments and joints. Many asanas become easier to practice as the pregnancy progresses.

 Asanas may be practiced at any time of the day, except after meals. In traditional yoga it is recommended to practice asanas two hours prior to dawn, finishing at sunrise, as the environment is quiet and tranquil at this hour. The activities of digestion have stopped, the mind has no deep impressions on the conscious level, and is relatively empty of thoughts at this time. Although the muscles are stiffer early in the morning compared to late afternoon, nevertheless, this time has a unique awakening and refreshing experience. Dusk, or the two hours around sunset, is also a wonderful time to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate.

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