The feeling of well-being

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By Gautam Sen demonstrates a short-cut to happiness
  • Published 8.11.04
Ready for another experience of six minutes of yoga at home and six minutes at work ? Today, we present the next four practices that are highly recommended by the Bihar School of Yoga for a short workout.
While at work
Asana 1: Hasta Utthanasana

In a standing position, distribute the weight of the body equally on both feet and cross the hands in front as shown. This is the starting position.

Inhaling slowly and deeply, raise the arms steadily till they are above the head while the hands remain crossed. Fix your gaze throughout on the intersection of the wrists. This way, the head will bend backwards when the arms are directly overhead. The speed at which you will raise the arms should be such that the crossed hands are directly above the head when you finish inhaling.

Exhaling, spread the arms slowly to the sides till they are parallel to the floor, palms facing upwards. You reach this position when you complete exhalation.

Inhale slowly and steadily as you raise the arms overhead again till the fists cross as before and inhalation is complete. Keeping your gaze fixed on the intersection of the wrists, lower the arms slowly and steadily to their starting position while you exhale. This completes one round. Do 10 rounds.

This asana helps to improve breathing capacity, relaxes the heart and facilitates better blood circulation. It removes stiffness in the shoulders and upper back. Oxygen supply to the brain increases significantly.

Asana 2: Utthanasana

(Not for ladies who have prolapse of the uterus. Mothers-to-be should not go to Stage 3 after the third month of pregnancy.)

As you stand, separate the feet by about one metre, with the toes turned out to the sides. The placement of the toes will remain throughout. Interlock the fingers and allow the arms to hang loosely in front of the body.

Stage 1 : As you exhale, bend the knees outward in the direction of the toes. Keep the spine erect as you go down; do not bend forward. Allow the buttocks to go down about 20 cm, making sure that the heels are on the floor. Hold briefly. Inhaling, straighten the knees and return to the starting position. Do this 10 times daily for 2 weeks.

Stage 2 : As you go down, descend to about half a metre. Hold, and return to the starting position. Keep this up every day for about 2 months.
Stage 3 : Go down a little below the half-way point, where the lower part of the thigh is parallel to the floor.
Stage 4 : See the graphic. Don?t attempt it unless you want to become Bruce Lee. If you decide to try it out, then remain within Stage 3 for at least six months.
This asana strengthens the middle back, pelvis, uterus, thighs, knees and ankles. An excellent practice for those who have to remain standing or sitting for long stretches of time.
Practices at home
Asana 3: Kati Chakrasana

Stand comfortably with the arms by the side. As you inhale, raise the arms sideways to shoulder level. Exhaling, twist the trunk to the left and place the right hand on the left shoulder and wrap the left arm around the back. Turn the head so that you look over the left shoulder. Hold this position for a few seconds and twist the trunk a little more. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side to complete one round. Do 10 rounds.

The important thing to remember about this asana is that you have to turn the whole upper body, keeping both the heels firmly on the ground.

This asana tones the waist, hips and back. It also induces a feeling of lightness.

Asana 4: Skandha Chakra

You can do this sitting or standing. Place the fingers of the left and right hands on the left and right shoulders. Join the elbows in front of the body and then raise them upward to point towards the ceiling by taking your biceps past the ears. Continue the rotating action of the elbows till they come to the sides as shown in the picture. Next, bring them down till they touch the torso and finally, complete the full circle by bringing the elbows in contact with each other in front of the body. This is one round. Inhale on the upward movement and exhale downwards. Do 5-8 rounds slowly in this direction and then 5-8 rounds in reverse. This asana relieves stiffness in the upper back, neck and shoulders. Excellent for those doing desk-work or in the kitchen. Done regularly, this asana helps significantly in the treatment of cervical spondylitis and frozen shoulder.

Some time during the day, at home or at work, sit comfortably, close your eyes, relax the facial muscles and try to visualise yourself sitting on the seashore just before sunrise. Feel the cool breeze and the freshness of the dawn. Hear the waves coming in as you inhale slowly and going out as you exhale. Do this for 5 minutes and then carry on with your day.
(Gautam Sen is a yoga teacher trained at the Bihar School of Yoga)ILLUSTRATIONS: SUMAN CHOUDHURY