In India, at least, yoga as seen more as therapy and less as an enjoyable activity. Unfortunately, this makes it more of a chore that needs to be done. Not many see it as a fun way to boost one's health. Or as a way to attain the ananda or joy, which is its spiritual offshoot.
Almost everywhere else in the world yoga as admired as a pleasurable way to expand one's individuality, be it mentally, emotionally, physically or spiritually. To incorporate this aspect of yoga is not so difficult nor do you need to learn and practice advanced poses.
However, a certain level of physical fitness and flexibility is essential. It becomes easier to try new variations if you can already practice classic poses like the lotus (padmasana) with ease. But the most important ingredient is a combination of curiosity, playfulness and adventure.
Any activity approached with this potent combination also increases feel-good, reward hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin. Both neurochemicals also balance each other, so that the sense of elation one creates is tempered by the sense of satisfaction the other produces.
This can, in turn, affect how we approach our work, career or studies, so we learn to think out of the box. It can also impact our life, so we approach every moment with confidence, joy and contentment. On a deeper neuro-biological level, the fun elements of yoga help balance the two brain hemispheres so that the logical left is in harmony with its creative right half.
Ensuring that you introduce such fun variations in your yoga practice will ensure that you enjoy your daily regular practice, look forward to it instead of suffering it or enduring it. It is famously said that there is a pose named after every known creation in this world or the mythical 84 lakh poses.
This amazing effort of our yogic ancients can be complimented best when we try out some of their creative brilliance as displayed in the asanas or poses they crafted.
Shameem Akthar, trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, invites you to try these five fun yoga poses.
Points to note: You must have some experience in yoga or physical exercise already to attempt these poses.
Text: Shameem Akthar
Photographs: Jahnavi Sheriff
Catch more of Shameem's yoga writings and about her upcoming workshops at jaisivananda.blogspot.com
Harmony Foundation recently published Shameem Akthar's book, Yoga for Silvers. To place an order, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also read: Asanas to improve flexibility