Strong as a Diamond! Vajrasana

Ever wondered why zen masters sit on their knees? Karate and other martial arts masters also to sit in that “uncomfortable” position- the ‘vajrasana’. Vajrasana is a kneeling pose; vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning diamond or thunderbolt. Asana means pose. This diamond pose is also called Adamintine Pose.
Usually, breathing exercises like Pranayama, Kapalabhati, and Anulon Vilom are done sitting in this position. Many masters also prefer this position for meditation.

This is how you do it..

  1. Kneel down, stretching your lower legs backward and keeping them together. Your big toes should touch each other.
  2. Gently lower your body such that your buttocks are resting on your heels and your thighs on your calf muscles.
  3. Place your hands on your knees, and set your gaze forward with your head absolutely straight.
  4. Turn your attention to your breathing. Be fully aware of how you breathe and carefully observe as you inhale and exhale.
  5. You could close your eyes to concentrate on your breathing and to calm your mind.

Vajrasana-benefits
As a beginner, when you assume this position, it is likely that your legs will pain. If this happens, all you need to do is undo the asana, and stretch your legs forward. You can try to stay in vajrasana for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes and extend the time as per your comfort.
Work slowly and gradually on bettering the strength of the lower back muscles before you go deeper into the pose or increasing the duration. Once the lower back is strengthened, the strain on the breath is decreased. Also, do not push yourself more than your body can take, the benefits of the pose are minimized.
This asana is one of the few asana which can and should be be practised post a meal since it promotes proper digestion.
While this is one of the easiest and safest asanas to practise, however, keep the following in mind:

  1. Do not practise this asana if you have a knee problem or have undergone surgery in your knees recently; Or if you have intestinal ulcers, hernia, or any other problems related to the large or small intestine. If you are very keen, seek advice from your doctor/ yoga practitioner.
  2. If you are pregnant, keep your knees slightly apart to avoid putting pressure on your abdomen.
  3. If you are suffering from any spinal column ailments on the lower vertebrae, it is best to avoid this pose.

Practice this asana because

  1. It improves digestion. It regulates blood circulation in the lower pelvic region. Sitting on your legs reduces the blood flow in the legs and increases it in the digestive area, therefore increasing the efficiency of the digestive system. Better digestion prevents GERD- Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease and acidity.
  2. With the regular practice of vajrasan one can get relief from constipation and flatulence.
  3. It strengthens the back and relieves patients suffering from lower back problems and sciatica.
  4. It strengthens the pelvic muscles too. It positively impacts the urinary and reproductive systems.

According to Ayurveda, one of the major nerve in human body is also named Vajra Nadi (Nadi means nerve). Vajra nadi is connected with genito urinary system which is responsible for regulating sexual energy in human body. Hence practicing this yoga pose for extended duration of time may make a person control his/her sexual energy for spiritual aims.

  1. It strengthens muscles and nerves almost curing varicose pains.
  2. It helps to ease out labor pains and also reduces menstrual cramps. It is a safe asana to perform during pregnancy.
  3. This asana is one of the best ones to assume when you wish to go into a meditative state since it is an upright pose.
  4. According to Ayurvedic Sciences there are marm points in our body. These points impact different parts of the body when we assume different positions. While sitting in vajrasana, katikatarun marm is stimulated. This impacts the spine and stomach releasing the pain in spine and improves digestion.

Make a habit to practise this asana atleast post your meals and become ‘diamond’ strong!

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The 12 Commandments of Sun

Avinash, 40 years is hypertensive, diabetic and obese. He has a hectic lifestyle involving lot of travel. His dietary habits are ill-disciplined and there is no physical activity. He visited me to tell him a mantra which can be followed easily and anywhere for his health. There are many people like Avinash who are concerned about their health but busy life style is a huge road block.  For such people the practise of Surya Namskar- Sun Salutation is ideal habit to inculcate. It is a dynamic exercise which can be formed by anyone, at any age and the minimum time to practise this is not more than 10-15minutes.

Sun is the basic source of energy on the basis of which everyone exists. The importance of sun and the energy it provides is revered in various traditions. The energy of the sun has tremendous healing power, if tapped in the right way the results are miraculous in physical and mental ailments.

Surya namaskar is a set of 12 poses (steps), if performed in sequence every day with correct breathing is the best gift one can give to one’s own self.  Ideally, these poses should be done empty stomach, at the time or just before sunrise. I will introduce you to each of these poses and the significance of each.

  1. Pranamasan- Stand erect with feet together. Join the palms together in front of the chest in a ‘namaste’ pose. Usually your hands will fall around your heart. Inhale and exhale slowly and gradually. This posture helps to induce a state of relaxation, calmness, gratitude and love.
  1. Hastauttanasana- Join your hands together again, inhaling stretch both arms above the head, palms facing upward. Arch the back and stretch the whole body backwards. This posture stretches the chest and the abdomen and lifts the energy to the upper parts of the body propelled by inhalation. It is an excellent stretch for the back muscles making it stronger.
  1. Padahastasana – Bend the body down while exhaling and keep the spine straight. Keep the legs straight and perpendicular to the ground. The knees should ideally be straight; don’t force yourself, but try touch your feet. In due course you will!

This posture impacts the abdominal organs- liver, kidneys, pancreas, adrenals, uterus and ovaries. The power of digestion increases and female disorders such as prolapse and menstrual irregularities are relieved. A healthy flow of blood is sent to the spinal nerves as they are stretched and toned. The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh and calf muscles are stretched and toned.

  1. Ashwa Sanchalanasana – While inhaling, extend the left leg back and drop the knee to the ground. The right knee is bent and kept between the hands and the right foot placed flat on the ground. Lift the spine and open the chest. Concentrate at the eyebrow center. This posture tones the abdominal organs and gives flexibility to the leg muscles during stretching. It is a balancing posture because the spine lengthens upwards while the hands are grounded.
  1. Parvatasana (Mountain posture)- On the exhalation bring the right leg back to join with the left leg. Simultaneously raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms, so that the body forms a triangle with the floor and you look like a mountain! Try to place the heels flat on the ground.

This posture strengthens the nerves and muscles in the arms and legs, stretches the calf muscles and Achilles’ tendons and makes the spine straight and taut. It relieves varicose veins and tones spinal nerves. Parvatasana pulls up all the abdominal, pelvic and side muscles, stretches the spine and ribs, loosens the hips, stretches and exercises the usually inactive waist zone and helps to reduce a fat, flabby and protruding abdomen. It also aids correct breathing.

  1. Ashtanga Namaskara – Exhaling gently drop both knees to the ground and slowly slide the body down at an angle as you bring the chest and chin to the ground. All eight limbs – toes, knees, chest, hands and chin touch the floor. The buttocks are kept up. You can hold your breath. . This posture develops the chest and strengthens arms. It sends additional blood to this area helping to rejuvenate the nerves. It works and improves the muscles of all the 8 limbs involved.
  1. Bhujangasana- On the inhalation, lower the hips while pushing the chest forward and upward with the hands, until the spine is fully arched and the head is facing up. The knees and lower abdomen remain above the floor. This pose expands the all organs of the chest and abdomen, relieving many ailments such as asthma, constipation, indigestion, kidney and liver problems. It is very helpful in relieving tension in the back muscles and spinal nerves.

 

From here on, you will do the poses in a reverse action.

  1. Parvatasana (Mountain posture) Exhale and get back to posture 5
  1. Ashwa Sanchalanasana- Inhale and swing the right leg forward between the hands. The left leg remains back. Resume posture 4.
  1. Padahastasana (Hand to foot posture)- Exhaling, bring the left foot forward. Join both legs and resume posture 3
  1. Hastauttanasana (Raised arm posture)- Inhale, raise the trunk up and bend backward. Resume posture 2.
  2. Pranamasana (Salutation posture)- Straighten the body and bring the hands in front of the chest. Resume posture 1.

These simple set of 12 exercise postures ensures that you begin your day with a bang! As a person understanding the science of human body, I believe these set of exercises are a boon. Every posture in surya namaskar has a corresponding effect on our internal organs as described above. For best results, one should practise these steps with deep inhalation and exhalation. You can also do each pose quickly and have 2-3 cycles of namaskar, but for best results, take deep breaths- 5-8 for each pose.

It is not only beneficial for the physical body, but it leads to mental and spiritual growth if done regularly. In ancient literature even Patanjali describes it as a complete exercise- involving every muscle, joint and organs. It balances all the systems of the human body- it rejuvenates the cells of the body leading the body to an ideal health state. The above mentioned benefits are just a few of the huge list of advantages.

Salute the Sun! Salute your Health!

You can respond on the comment box or write to me at drviralthakkar09@gmail.com if you want skype sessions/ online tutorship.