Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Yoga > Yoga for Exam Time

Exams! A word that can create stress for even the most easy going folks. And although “stress” is a strong word, especially for young students, it is an unfortunate reality of our times. Peer pressure, parental pressure and oftentimes their own need to excel and “max every paper” unduly burdens school-going kids. While we could get into an endless discussion of why and how we’ve reached this point, we’re not going to waste your precious time over inane arguments. Instead, as always, we are happy to help in whichever way we can. So: the best antidote to stress of any kind is Yoga. Read on for some simple, yet highly effective and quick yoga asanas especially suited for exam time. {While we recommend your young ones to practice these asanas and pranayama, we’re sure that wired up parents will also benefit from the same!}

3 in 1 (also known as TTK)
Starting the day with a set of these three asanas comes highly recommended by the Bihar School of Yoga. These also offer a rejuvenating stretch to the entire spine after sitting and studying for a long duration at a time. These asanas are especially useful to relieve physical and mental tension at any time during the day.
-       Tadasana (palm tree pose): Stand with the feet together or about 10 cm apart, and the arms by the sides. Steady the body and distribute the weight equally on both feet. Raise the arms over the head. Interlock the fingers and turn the palms upward. Place the hands on top of the head. Fix the eyes at a point on the wall slightly above the level of the head. The eyes should remain fixed on this point throughout the practice of this asana. Inhale and stretch the arms, shoulders and chest upward. Raise the heels, coming up onto the toes. Hold the breath and position to a count of 10. Lower the heels back to the ground while breathing out and bring the hands to the top of the head.
Practice 5-10 rounds.
-       Tiryaka Tadasana (swaying palm tree pose): Stand with the feet about two feet apart. Fix the gaze on a point directly in front. Interlock the fingers and turn the palms outward. Inhale and raise the arms over the head. While exhaling, bend to the left side from the waist. Do not twist the trunk or bend forward or backward. (You may also practice this against a wall to maintain the right form.) Hold the position for a few seconds while retaining the breath outside. Inhale and slowly come to the upright position. Repeat on the right side. From the upright position, exhale while bringing the arms down to the sides. This completes one round. 
      Practice 5-10 rounds.
-       Kati Chakrasana (waist rotating pose): Stand with the feet about half a metre apart and the hands by the sides. Take a deep breath in while raising the arms sideways to shoulder level. Breathe out and twist the body towards the left. Bring the right hand to the left shoulder and wrap the left arm around the back. Bring the left hand around the right side of the waist. Look over the left shoulder as far as possible. Hold the breath for two seconds, accentuate the twist and try to gently stretch the abdomen. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side to complete one round. Keep the feet firmly on the ground while twisting. Perform the rotation smoothly, without jerking or stiffening the body.
Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

Balancing Asana
After the above stretches, it is recommended to practice this calming and balancing pose. Beyond the physical, postural balance it also helps develops nervous balance and facilitates concentration.
Eka Pada Pranamasana (one-legged prayer pose): Stand upright with the feet together and the arms at the sides. Focus the gaze on a fixed point in front of the body at eye level. Bend the right leg, grasp the ankle and place the sole of the foot on the inside of the left thigh. The heel should be close to the perineum and the right knee should point out to the side. Hold the ankle until the body is balanced, then place the hands in prayer position in front of the chest. Hold this pose for 10 seconds. Release the pose completely and change sides.
Practice up to 3 rounds on each leg.

Pranayama for Relieving Stress
Bhramari pranayama or humming bee breath induces a mild meditative state and calms the mind by directing the awareness inward. It also relaxes cerebral tension, alleviates anxiety, anger and insomnia.
Sit in a comfortable position, either cross-legged on the floor or on an upright chair; the spinal cord should be erect. Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Make sure that the jaws are relaxed too. Raise the arms sideways and bend the elbows, bringing the hands to the ears. Use the index and middle fingers to plug the ears. The flaps of the ears may be pressed without inserting the fingers. Breathe in through the nose. Exhale slowly and in a controlled manner while making a deep, steady humming sound. The humming sound should be smooth, even and continuous for the duration of the exhalation. This is one round. At the end of the exhalation, breathe in deeply.

Perform 5 rounds.