Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Yoga is a hot trend now and millions of people are resorting and surrendering to Yoga to get rid of many ailments related to body and mind. It is followed for both curative and preventive purposes. People have been taking to Yoga classes, practicing Yoga religiously on daily basis to keep up health and protect themselves from the attack of diseases, lifestyle disorders, stress related ailments, immunological and autoimmune disorders, infections and many other troublesome conditions.
In the gadget era it is easy to find the Yoga tutor or Guru on internet. Search engines will lead you to many online schools, tutors, videos and institutions which can guide you how to perform Yoga at your place, wherever you are seated or located. It is easy. But everything will carry certain rules and regulations, Yoga too. For Yoga to provide good and comprehensive results, one should practice and perform Yoga under the framework of certain rules and regulations. Total dedication, surrender and practice of Yoga in its original, traditional, aesthetic and religious form will provide ultimate benefits, otherwise not.
Read related: Yoga: Introduction, History, Definition, Shat Karma, Benefits
Rules and Regulations for performing Yoga
Eligibility of the Yoga enthusiast (person seeking to learn Yoga)
Eligibility for practicing and performing Yoga should be analyzed beforehand. Everyone is not eligible for doing Yoga abhyasa. The below mentioned factors should be taken into consider (as related to the enthusiast person seeking to practice Yoga) before declaring any person eligible for Yoga –
Patrata – Seriousness of the client in taking to Yoga should be considered and analyzed before enrolling them into Yoga training. There are few people who want to take up Yoga to show off to others or since they want to be part of the trend. Some take up Yoga to accompany their friends or relatives or neighbours. They are neither physically fit nor mentally ready to take up Yoga. Such candidates should be shortlisted and kept away after screening and interviewing.
Read related: Health Benefits Of Yoga: Mind And Body
Ayu (Vaya) and Linga (Sex) – Ayu means age. Though there is no age restriction to the practice of Yoga, the extremes of age i.e. infants and very old (aged) people should be avoided from taking Yoga. Infants and small kids are not aware of the basics of Yoga, Old aged people are not fit enough to do Yoga. Asanas should be generally be done by those who have crossed 12 years of age. People above 50 years of age should undergo Yoga under medical guidance and recommendation. Women should not perform Yoga poses (asanas) while in menstruation and in pregnancy.
Swasthya – Status of body and mind health should be taken into consideration for allowing a person to take up Yoga. Yoga is meant to gain a comprehensive body-mind health but it is also needed that a person with stable and balanced body and mind health should take up Yoga. One needs to remember that Yoga is not only curative and preventive, it is also meant for healthy people. Healthy people take up Yoga to fortify their healthy status further and keep living healthier.
Vastra – Dressing, presentation and attitude depicts cleanliness and organized way in which the person seeking Yoga lives. How the person looks and how he lives are the key points and pointers for eligibility to get trained in Yoga.
Read related: Hatha Yoga and Shat Karmas: Benefits, Precautions
Ahara – Food practices of the person seeking Yoga training should be documented and analyzed. Yoga practice and training demands strict monitoring of dietetic protocol including good and safe foods and abstinence from unwholesome foods and junks. People who are addicted to bad and odd foods which are unwholesome or damaging ones for health, those who do not have control over food, and those who are undisciplined in terms of quality, quantity and timing of food are not fit to take up Yoga.
Vihara – Lifestyle activities and practices of the person seeking Yoga training is equally important for eligibility. One’s lifestyle should be a disciplined and a reasonably food one with good scope of volunteering for a good protocol of living, ethical living, moral living, personal and community living, devoid of bad habits and addictions and a good scope to exercise and sleep well.
Aasana – Posture or asana includes the gait or walking style of the person, decubitus (posture adopted by a person in lying down position), gesture and attitude, integrity and composure of the body. This is important to analyze because Hatha Yoga and Asanas need physical fitness to do and involves twisting and bending the body in various postures.
Brahmacharya – Celibacy indicates self control, over the senses and mind. The person who has good control over his senses and mind will not get deviated or disturbed. He or she can practice and perform Yoga to perfection.
Read related: Abstinence: Brahmacharya – Benefits, How To Practice, Experiences
Nishta – Dedication is the key for any practice. One should have a medicated mind and should not be playful in learning Yoga. The seriousness of the person to get indulged in Yogic activities which demand concentration and dedication should be chosen.
Varjyakara Ahitakara Bhava – Unwholesome factors to which the person seeking Yoga is exposed i.e. bad practices like smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, tobacco, and mental contaminants like high end emotions, greed, anger, lust, depression etc. these factors should be separated or kept away before the person takes up Yoga.
Preliminary Examination of Yoga enthusiast
The person who is about to take Yoga training should be thoroughly examined for temperature, pulse, blood pressure, swelling, pain etc and general health should be analyzed and documented in detail. This helps us to include or exclude the person for Yoga training. If the readings are normal, he or she shall be allowed to get trained in Yoga. On the contrary, if the readings are abnormal the clients shall not be enrolled for Yoga. If the person has high blood pressure, he or she should be allowed to take up Raja Yoga instead of Hatha Yoga. If the client has diseases pertaining to ear, nose, brain, throat and neck, the asanas like Sheershasana and Sarvangasana shall be avoided. When one has Vibandha or constipation, he or she should not be advised Paschimottasana or any asanas or postures which cause pressure on the abdomen (belly).
Set up and Infrastructure for Yoga
Generally Yoga provides best results when done or practiced in a serene, pleasant, sterile and pleasing environment, like in gardens, forests, banks of river or pond or Lake Etc. Such setups are not available always and for everyone. Therefore an ideal place or room or condition should be set up so as to suit the necessities for conducting and practicing Yoga in an ideal environment. Yoga shall be undergone in Yoga class or training centers which are well equipped for conducting and learning Yoga. Alternatively Yoga can be conducted in a room in the house (home) or office, they shall be equipped and arranged in a way where Yoga can be conducted or practiced in the best possible way. The room should be well ventilated, illuminated with natural light, clean, free of dust, dirt and contaminants, devoid of foul smell, moisture and insects, well painted with serene colors and be equipped with equipments needed to conduct Yoga, like Yoga mattress etc.
Physical and mental attitude, Postures to be followed
One should perform Yoga (asanas, pranayamas etc) with pleasantness of the mind, physical preparedness and fitness and in a condition of optimum health. The practitioner should keep the body, neck, head and spine in an erect and comfortable posture. He or she should be seated comfortably on a clean and sterile cloth, mattress, animal skin or a woolen blanket covered with a white cloth, in Yoga asanas which need to be done in seated or sleeping postures.
One should wear clean and comfortable dressing. The dress should be light and not too tight over the body (sort of well or loose fitting). Pajamas, dhoti and well fitting kurtas are preferable.
While practicing Yoga, the food pattern should be well organized. Food should be taken considering the metabolism and bowel clearance, quality and quantity should be monitored. Fresh food which is nutritious, unctuous, easily digestible, good tasting, compatible, not antagonizing to other portions of food (mutually) should be taken to half of one’s capacity following the ahara vidhi vidhana (rules and regulations of food intake) as explained in Ayurveda. Food should not be taken prior to Yoga practice.
Wholesome foods / diet (Pathya)
The diet should be enriched with all nutrients and micro-nutrients should preferably be sweet in taste, unctuous, tissue growth promoting and comprising of ghee and milk predominantly. The other beneficial part of the diet are rice, butter, sugar, honey, ginger, pointed gourd and soup prepared using green gram.
Unwholesome foods (Apathya)
While practicing Yoga, the below mentioned are said to be non-beneficial or unwholesome foods.
- Katu Teekshna Ushna Amla Ahara – Food rich in pungent taste, strong and corrosive, hot and sour in taste
- Hareeta shaka – green vegetables
- Sauveera – a kind of fermented herbal drink
- Tila taila – sesame oil
- Sarshapa – mustard
- Madhya – alcohol or fermented drinks
- Matsya – fish
- Aja mamsa – meat of goat and other animals
- Dadhi – curds
- Takra – buttermilk
- Kulattha – horse gram
- Badara – jujube
- Pinyaka – paste of sesame seeds
- Hingu – asafetida
- Lashuna – garlic
- Ruksha bhojana – dry and stale foods
- Adhika lavana yukta bhojana – salty foods
- Nindita anna – contaminated or rejected foods
- Nindita shaka – contaminated or rejected vegetables
- Teevra vidahi padartha – too corrosive foods
- Punaha ushneekrita bhojana – foods which are repeatedly heated or boiled
Time of doing Yoga
Yoga ideally should be done at the early hours of the morning. It should not be done at odd time of the day. It should not be practiced when the body and mind are tired. Yoga can be practiced at morning or evening according to your convenience after consumption of light digestible food in small quantity or on empty stomach. Yoga should be done after having completed the regimens of early morning and or evening including bowel and bladder clearance.
Following celibacy (Brahmacharya)
One should follow celibacy during the practice of Yoga. Celibacy should be strictly followed for a period of 40 days prior to the commencement of Yoga training. Following Brahmacharya or celibacy by itself is a Yoga which will bestow the best qualities and fruits of Yoga to the practitioners of Hatha and Raja Yoga. Brahmacharya brings control over the mind, intellect and senses and strengthens them, which is necessary to perform and practice Yoga with dedication and submissiveness.
One’s character has to be flawless, clean and spotless if he has to undergo training in Yoga. The people who adorn good character will know the values of life and will be disciplined. This quality is needed to practice Yoga and procure its benefits to optimum. The person also should be of unruffled character who will take the good and bad happenings, happiness and grief, success and defeat in like terms, a strong and determined character.
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