In yoga the body and mind are not considered to be separate entities and in practicing the postures, or asana in Sanskrit, both are integrated and harmonised. Where the body and mind harbour tension there will be a corresponding mental or physical, muscular knot. By dealing with these tensions on a physical level yoga helps to release them also on a somato-psychic level- through this body-mind connection. The result is a release of dormant energy. Regular practice of asana will leave you feeling more energised, the body feels lighter and the mind becomes balanced, and more positive.
Surya Namaskara (sanskrit) Sun Salutation
The physical base of the Surya Namaskara practice consists of twelve postures, asanas linked in a dynamically performed series which alternately stretch the spine backwards and forwards. Each asana should be done focusing on alternate inhalation and exhalation. The twelve dynamic asana help to stretch, strengthen, tonify and massage the whole body, muscles, and joints as well as the internal organs. One of the core asana in the Surya Namaskara is Adho-Mukha-Svanasasana.
Adho-Mukha Svanasana – Downward facing dog
This asana is extremely important in yoga as it is an inversion and requires as much the physical strength of the arms and legs as it does the freedom and flexibility of the upper back and shoulders. As a restorative asana with the heart and head below the waist, it can be repeated many times, and helps relieve fatigue, rejuvenate the body, improve the immune and digestive systems and direct blood flow to the sinuses, calm the mind and lift the spirits. At the same time it is a posture that requires strength and tonifies the spinal nerves and improves circulation in the arms, legs and upper back especially between the shoulder blades.
Bakasana – Crane or Crow Pose
This asana belongs to a group of postures known as hand balances. The simple method of achieving it is by crouching and positioning the knees a little above the elbows and by keeping the elbows bent. The more advanced method is to push up from a head stand and then by subtly contracting the abdominal muscles and squeezing the legs against the arms straighten the arms and holding the gaze fixed on an object in front of you.
Bakasana helps balance the nervous system, tone the shoulders, arms and hand muscles and strengthen the abdominal muscles and internal organs. It requires patience, continual practice and more co-ordination than physical strength!
NICE Magazine, July 2012, La Paz