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Yoga

Yoga – Toe Twist

Here we have a fine strengthening movement for the ankles and feet. The exercise requires real control, and there is a great sense of accomplishment in’ gaining this control. As you raise onto the toes very slowly, you may get your ankles to “crack,” greatly loosening them. It is important that you allow your hands to touch, and that you look only at the back of your hands. Let your arms and hands lead you around to the left. It is most important to make this twisting movement very slowly, since this forces the feet, toes and ankles to work.

At first you will continue to lose your balance but, wherever you fall, just pick up your arms again at that very point and continue the twist from there. Do not laugh at yourself or become discouraged when you lose your balance. Soon you will gain permanent balance in this exercise. Your carriage and posture will be improved and your confidence in having control of your body will be bolstered. When you have twisted to the extreme position, pull in your abdomen and attempt to stand erect with as little movement as possible while you count 5. Then you turn frontward very slowly, making your feet and legs work and keeping your gaze on the back of your hands. If you lose your balance, pause a moment, regain your composure and come right back up, wherever you are, to continue the movement. When you are facing frontward once again, lower your arms and legs, pause and rest for a few seconds, then perform identical movements to the right.

In this exercise you are asked to gain all the discipline and control of a ballet dancer. Take up the challenge and master these movements. It is easy for the body of the sedentary worker to grow lazy and to feel too tired to stretch or attempt to balance. It is absolutely necessary that the sedentary worker overcome the inertia which will otherwise grow and result in less and less activity. Many people think of their bodies as luggage that is attached to them and that they are forced to carry around. But as they practice Yoga the body is reawakened, and they better understand its significance.

How to Do Toe Twist

1. Stand easily with your arms at your sides and your feet pointed slightly outward.

2. Raise your arms stiffly from your sides and stretch them straight out before you at eye level with the hands touching.

3. Raise your body up on your toes.

4. Keeping your eyes fixed on the back of your hands turn the trunk slowly to the left. Go as far to your left as possible without strain, attempting to keep yourself balanced on your toes while your eyes gaze at the back of your hands. Hold your extreme position for the advised number of seconds.

Important Things to Know About Toe Twist

Balance, grace and poise are important characteristics of youth and have a great effect on your appearance and your feeling of self-confidence. This technique will make you as graceful as a ballet dancer and at the same time will strengthen the entire leg through the slow turning to the sides while on the toes. Also, further elasticity of the spine is gained, this time through a spiral stretching movement. This spiral movement has a wonderful “streamlining” effect on the waist and often reduces excess weight in this abdominal area. You cannot expect to succeed in your first few attempts since remaining on the toes is difficult. But within a week you should be well on your way toward regaining this highly important youthful characteristic: balance. You will sense a mastery over your body as you succeed.

Points to Remember When Practicing Toe Twist Yoga Movement

  • Keep your eyes on the back of your hands at all times during this technique.
  • Always stay as high on your toes as possible. Toe Twist
  • Hold your abdomen in and your chest out as you go around to the sides. Try to keep a perfect posture.
  • If you lose your balance at any point in this exercise, do not laugh or show any signs of discouragement. Simply come right back up at the point where you lost your balance and continue the exercise. When you maintain a serious attitude in this work your body will realize that you intend to become the master and will respond accordingly. The body, in many cases, is very much like a child and must be correctly disciplined.
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Yoga

Yoga – Backward Bend

The Backward Bend involves the entire body. From it are derived many wonderful benefits. For our purposes we will emphasize the benefits for the feet and toes. When you sit on your heels, you stretch and strengthen the feet. Holding the arms parallel as advised is good for the j shoulders and for muscle tone in the upper arms. Remember j to stay on the heels when you arch your spine (otherwise, you lose the stretch).

For most sedentary workers, attempting to perform this ex­ercise is conclusive proof of how stiff this area of the body has become. Many find this movement painful, especially if they attempt to rest the full weight of the body on the toes all at once. Usually only a limited amount of the body weight should be placed on the heels in the beginning. Each day the toes will grow a little stronger and will be able to support more weight. Gradually the full weight of the body can rest on the heels.

How to Do Backward Bend

1. Sit on your heels. The top of your feet are resting on the floor and your knees are together in front of you.

2. Place the palms of your hands so that they rest on the floor on either side of your body.

3. Little by little, “walk” back with your hands until you reach a comfortable maximum.

4. Lower your head backward and push your abdomen and chest upward to form the greatest possible arch without strain. You must remain seated on your heels. Remain in your extreme position for the advised number of seconds. Do not fidget, fight or strain. All extreme positions should be held motionless.

5. Relax by slowly lowering your abdomen and chest and raising your head. Try to stay seated on your heels and do not move your hands; the posture thus becomes easy
to repeat.

6. To repeat, simply drop your head backward and push upward with your abdomen and chest as described in step 4.

7. To come out of the posture, slowly drop your abdomen and chest and raise your head; “walk” forward little by little until you are able to easily raise your trunk from your heels.

8. Change the position of your feet so that your toes now rest on the floor. If you are able to sit on your heels in this position, attempt to perform the exact movements of steps 2, 3 and 4. Move very carefully and stop at whatever point this posture becomes uncomfortable. If this movement is uncomfortable for you, simply put as much weight as you can on your heels and toes and hold your position for the prescribed time.

9. Come out of the posture very slowly by “walking” forward little by little with your hands and fingers. Relax by sitting in a cross-legged posture. Massage your feet gently with your hands if necessary.

Important Things to Know About Backward Bend

In this technique, we will attempt to relieve tension through a convex (inward) stretching of the spine. Also, we will strengthen and gain elasticity in the feet and toes. You may experience some discomfort when you attempt to sit on your feet as instructed. This indicates that your feet have become weak and stiff and need to be gradually worked out and strengthened. If you will simply put as much weight as you can on your feet and patiently hold that position for the advised number of seconds, on the next day you will be able to support a little more weight. Within a few weeks you will certainly be able to rest the full body weight upon the feet. The same is true with the toes, although they are stubborn and usually require more time.

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Yoga

Yoga – Knee and Thigh Stretch

With this exercise for the knees and thighs you can feel the stretched and firmed areas immediately. This movement, which allows the knees and legs to bend outward, is important because it is a stretch seldom performed during the course of an ordinary day’s activities. The knees are greatly loosened and the thighs firmed. The physical structures of individuals vary greatly and while some people can place their knees very close to the floor almost at once, most students find themselves quite tight in the muscles, ligaments and tendons of the inside of the legs and thighs.

Progress in this exercise is generally slow, but here again it is the practice, not the extreme position, which is important. If the knees will move only a few inches toward the floor the sedentary worker will find this a most delightful feeling because tension is removed and revitalized sensation follows. Remember to bring the heels in as far as possible and to remain erect throughout the exercise. Do not slump. This exercise is also a very good indication to many people of how tight they have become in certain key areas of the body. Stiffness usually comes as an unpleasant surprise, but the Yoga exercises provide great hope. Remember that no machine, device or gadget can ever truly work out this dangerous stiffness. Only you, through your own methodical movements, can accomplish this.

How to Do Knee and Thigh Stretch

Extend your legs straight out before you.

Bend your legs at the knees and bring your feet in as far as possible toward you. Place the soles of the feet together.

Clasp your hands firmly around your feet.

Pull up on your feet with your hands and allow your knees and thighs to bend downward as far as possible without strain. Sit erectly and hold your extreme position for the advised number of seconds. Do not fidget, fight or strain.

Relax and allow the knees and thighs to return to the previous position. Remain with your hands clasped around your feet so that you may repeat as advised.

Important Things To Know About Knee and Thigh Stretch

The major objective in this technique is to stretch out the seldom-exercised knees and thighs. You may find your knees quite some distance from the floor in the beginning. However, here again, with patience and practice they will gradually lower themselves toward the floor. It is of no consequence how far you are able to stretch in the beginning.
The stretching itself is the important thing. As you continue to practice this technique, you will find that the ‘spring” returns to your legs and that you can walk and stand without becoming so easily tired. The YOGA stretching postures keep the joints limber and help to avert the painful bone and joint diseases which are characteristics of “old-age”.

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Yoga

Yoga – Preliminary Leg Pull

An absolute must for the sedentary worker, regardless of his field, is to have the ability truly to relax His physical organism for at least several hours after the workday. I use the word truly because, to most people, relaxation is synonymous with collapsing into a chair or couch. This, actually the result of fatigue, is not relaxation. Relaxing is an art; it is not inertia and it is not laziness. The cat is the perfect example of a creature who is simultaneously relaxing and building energy (revitalizing).

To learn the lost art of relaxation one must first be able to banish all tension from the body. We are all aware that tension causes nervousness, strain, irritation, weakness and fatigue. It is certain that one of our greatest problems is the inability to relax—physically, emotionally and mentally. But these three aspects of our being are so highly interrelated that what affects one has a corresponding effect on the others. You may be very pleasantly surprised to learn that if you can relax physically you simultaneously achieve a high degree of emotional and mental calm. The Yoga stretching and breathing exercises will remove tension.

The Preliminary Leg Pull provides a good indication of how stiff you may be throughout your legs and spine. Just this simple stretching movement will go a long way toward beginning to loosen these stiff areas. Although you probably know of many stiff and tense points in your body, you are unaware of dozens.of other tension areas. Yoga movements, such as the Preliminary Leg Pull, will show up many of these spots.

In the Preliminary Leg Pull, the object is not to see how fast you can fight your way down toward your knees but simply to hold the furthermost area of your legs that you can without strain and pull yourself forward and down easily, so that your spine begins to loosen. The stiffer you find yourself, the greater your need for these gentle pulling movements. Never strain or jerk in these exercises as one is inclined to do in the ordinary type of calisthenics. Just attain your extreme position, regardless of where it may be, and have the patience to hold for a count of 10 and to repeat as indicated. There is no trick to attaining the more extreme position of the Preliminary Leg Pull or, for that matter, of any of the Yoga stretching exercises. It can be achieved when the spine becomes sufficiently flexible.

The Preliminary Leg Pull is a very fine morning exercise that the sedentary worker would find most valuable to practice before leaving for work. This is because the spine is exceptionally stiff in the morning (quite natural after the night’s sleep). We have already stated that fatigue and sluggishness can certainly result from a stiff spine, therefore, a few quick movements of the Preliminary Leg Pull are beneficial in loosening the spine. Although these movements will seem particularly difficult in the morning, do not be discouraged—they are of great value. Remember to bend your elbows outward when pulling forward because this enables you to pull more effectively. Also remember to drop your head downward when pulling forward, since this helps to work out your neck and upper back muscles. Attempt to remain tranquil and relaxed while performing the movements. Close your eyes in the extreme positions and concentrate on the “feel” of the stretching.

It is important to note that progress in Yoga is irregular. That is, you will find that you can accomplish an extreme position fairly comfortably one day, but that two or three days of practice may be needed before you can do this again. This is the learning process; it is true of almost all Yoga exercises. There are days when you experience what appears to be a setback. I say “appears” because it is not truly a setback. The body is stiff on certain days and does not respond to your will as well as on previous days. But it is really setting itself and preparing to make another stride forward. This is similar to the arrow, which is first pulled back before it leaves the bow. This pulling-back movement provides greater impetus to fly forward. When you seem to be having difficulty, your body is drawing itself back like the arrow. If you just “go easy” when you feel stiff and do not force your body or become discouraged, you will find that within a day or two your organism has completed its process of setting and then will take a big step ahead.

Benefits of Preliminary Leg Pull

  • Removes stiffness and promotes elasticity in the spine through a concave stretching movement.
  • Helps to relieve tension in the back.
  • Stretches and strengthens the entire leg.
  • Makes the muscles and skin of the legs taut and firm.

How To Do Preliminary Leg Pull

Sit with your legs stretched straight out before you. The feet should be together. Sit erect but relaxed. Rest your hands on your knees.

Slowly and gracefully raise your arms as illustrated.

Bring your arms up and lean backward several inches. This movement helps to strengthen the abdom­inal muscles.

Slowly and gracefully bring your arms over and lean forward.

Take a firm hold on your knees or calves.

Gently pull your trunk downward as far as you can without strain. Let your elbows bend outward. Let your neck go limp. Hold this position without moving for a count of 5.

Slide your hands farther down the legs and attempt to hold the ankles firmly.

Gently pull your trunk downward as before, bending the elbows outward. Rest your forehead close to your knees if possible. Relax the muscles as much as possible. Do not allow the body to become tense. Hold this position without moving for a count of 5.

Slowly straighten up into the position of in the first picture and repeat both the knee and ankle stretches. Perform three times in all.

Important Things To Know About Preliminary Leg Pull

This technique will be an indication as to how stiff and tight you may have grown in ‘Key’ areas throughout your back and legs. The preliminary leg pull will begin to loosen these tense and cramped spots and provide you with elasticity of the spine. Ry following the directions exactly as given and holding your extreme position without motion for the number of seconds indicated, you will soon be able to place your forehead very close to, if not actually on your knees.

Points to Remember When Practicing Preliminary Leg Pull

  • Never strain. Go only as far as you are able to bend comfortably in slow motion and hold your extreme position motionless. Do not jerk or fight in order to get down a little farther. Each day you will find that your spine automatically gains in elasticity by following the above directions.
  • Make certain that the backs of both knees remain resting on the floor and that your legs are held straight.
  • Remember to bend your elbows slightly outward as you draw your head downward.
  • Count the necessary number of seconds silently to yourself. You may close your eyes if you wish.