Asana is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘seat’, or ‘comfortable seat’. Keep this in mind throughout your practice! Your asana practice may take you beyond your perceived flexibility limitations, and sometimes it may even cause you to break a sweat. Always remember that any physical movement practiced without care and consideration has the potential to do harm. The general rule is to listen to your body and only go as far as you can without straining. It is imperative to know the difference between good pain and bad pain:
Good pain: an opening, lengthening sensation that feels uncomfortably pleasant; that eases off over time.
The kind of pain to avoid: acute, onset pain that escalates and does not subside.
Tip: If the exercise does not feel right- don’t do it!
Here are a few basic guidelines to assist you in developing a safe and enjoyable practice:
- Learn to breathe.
- Learn to move. Take your time in each asana. You might even try practicing the poses in front of a mirror to make sure you have the correct alignment. The more you practice it the incorrect way, the more the incorrect way will become a habit.
- Connect the two- begin uniting your breath with you movements. If you get ‘muddled’ up, simply slow down your movements and come back to the breath. Inhale: opening, lengthening; Exhale: contracting, softening
- Then begin connecting poses. Only when you are confident with each pose should you connect them into a flowing sequence. Because you will be practicing at home without the guidance of a teacher, it is vital that you know each pose well. It isn’t necessary to practice in a ‘flowing/vinyasa’ style, but it is a great way to get your heart rate up and your energy flowing!
However, if you have any existing injuries or discomforts, diseases or sicknesses, or physical impediments of any kind, it is best to seek the advice of an appropriate health professional.