There is a misconception, in India specially, that yoga has only therapeutic value. Actually, yoga was designed to build stamina so that spiritual seekers did not waver from their goal. So, though the initial value of yoga in your life may be therapeutic, as you advance in your practice it will contribute immensely to your physical, mental and emotional stamina.
The ability to hold your pose without wavering and with steadiness is called asana jaya (victory over the pose). Such steadiness requires strong muscular and respiratory support. This steadiness also arises from the yogic mental ability to analyse pain and understand whether it may be borne or is dangerous. This special ability is peculiar to yoga, which is why it is regarded a perfect pain management tool.
In yogic therapy, on the other hand, the poses are gentle. Even when 'difficult' poses are learnt, they are not held for too long. But when you use yoga for toning your body, and as a more effective substitute for gym-based exercises you must gradually build up stamina in each pose. Only then will muscles become toned and taut and your respiratory capacity leap-frog. Physical stamina and vigour will be assured and emotional stability, the original intent of such exercise, is a given.
Shameem Akthar, yoga acharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, guides your through five yoga poses that guarantee all this.
Text: Shameem Akthar
Also read: 5 yoga poses to strengthen your lower back
Photographs: Saisuresh Sivaswamy & Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com