THE RISHIKESH SERIES part 1

THE RISHIKESH SERIES REVISITED FROM THE YOGA-RATNA POINT OF VIEW

1. part

One of the most famous sequences in the world, brought to the west by the renowned Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh.

 

Rishikesh is the celebrated city of the Rishi, masters of the vedic samhites, today considered the Yoga capital because of its numerous ashrams and the many opportunities it offers to attend courses in the ancient Indian discipline.

Swami Sivananda taught a way of practicing yoga that integrated all known systems of the ancient masters so this, known as the synthesis of yoga, is the basis of the yoga practiced today.

The Rishikesh series is a sequence of essential asana studied and taught in the famous ashram of Rishikesh and its popularity is due to some fundamental aspects that make the practice extremely effective. In fact the sequence has beneficial effects on the whole body as it favours the necessary conditions to restore both health and mental balance. It has been established that, if practiced daily, it is able to balance the body on all levels: physical, energetic, mental and emotional. The ancient masters sensed that each of the poses stimulated or activated one or more energy centers, known as Chakra, which regulated the flow of energy distributing it to the corresponding organs.
Due to its simplicity the sequence of asana can be performed by people of all physical constitutions, with varying degrees of flexibility and physical development and at all ages. Not that it does not require the use of common sense, especially regarding the constitution of the body, and respect for the signals that our own body gives us.

What’s important is that the poses, if done properly, have the capacity and the important role of stimulating our psycho-physical development and setting us onto the path of yoga practice. Never worry about reaching “perfection” regarding flexibility and strength, but always proceed gradually and slowly, respecting the limits of your body and never forcing the posture.

Shirsha_completo_convertedSHIRSHASANA the head stand, considered the king of the asana

Traditionally, the sequence starts with Shirshasana, which is fine for advanced practitioners, while for beginners I would advise leaving it to last, together with Sarvangasana, Halasana and Matsyasana.

On the knees bend forward placing the forearms on the ground holding the elbows with the hands to establish the correct distance between them. Keeping the elbows in this position open the forearms and intertwine the fingers, little fingers united but not one on top of the other, forming an equilateral triangle between the elbows and the hands. Rest the top of the head between the intertwined fingers, thus supporting the top and back of the head.

Raise the knees and buttocks from the ground straightening the legs a little. Take small steps to bring the feet towards the head and trunk, so that the trunk gently moves into a vertical position. At this point slightly bend the knees and gently transfer the body’s weight from the feet to the head and arms keeping a stable balance.

Now try to detach the feet slowly from the ground one at a time making sure that your balance remains stable in each phase. You can stop for a few moments before taking the next step. Raise the legs and calves gradually with a controlled movement while adjusting the trunk to counterbalance the weight of the legs. Raise the legs further until they are completely vertical and finally push the calves upwards bringing the whole body into a straight line. It’s essential to activate the muscles in the buttocks and abdomen to maintain this straight line.

Those who suffer from high blood pressure, have problems with the cervical vertebrae, brain disease, glaucoma, or during menstruation, especially in the first couple of days, should not practice Shirshasana.

According to Gabriella Cella Al Chamali this position “restores a perfect balance in the pituitary gland and prevents organic deterioration. It improves digestion and assimilation. It’s extremely useful for prolapsed uterus, prostrate or kidneys. It prevents and cures varicose veins, hair loss and weakness of the internal organs”. However, she does not recommend doing it against a wall because of the subsequent difficulty in detaching from it.

It helps to find a good stable balance and putting ourselves in an upside-down position helps to give us a different perspective on our lives.

The activiated Chakra is Ajna, the third eye. It has a masculine polarity.

Kapala_fase_1_convertedAn easier upside-down position to do is Ardha Kapalasana the partial position on the skull, which has the same contraindications previously indicated for shirsasana.

Sitting on the heels place the hands next to the knees. Raise the hips and bend forwards placing the top of the head on the ground to form an equilateral triangle between the hands and the head.

Raise the hips and straighten the legs opening the knees a little and making sure the elbows are parallel to each other.

With small steps walk the feet towards the head, open the knees a bit more, bend them and rest them on the arms, the closer to the armpits they are, the straighter the back will be.

Gives confidence and helps overcome shyness.

Ardha Kapalasana is also a position with masculine polarity.

Sarvanga_2_convertedSARVANGASANA the pose with the whole body supported, considered the queen of the asana

Put yourself in a supine position, lying flat on the floor with the entire body aligned, arms at the sides with the palms facing down. Raise the legs perpendicular to the ground (those who have back or kidney problems bend the knees). Pushing downwards with the hands and arms, using momentum bring the trunk and legs upwards forming a straight line from the shoulders to the feet, perpendicular to the ground. Detach your hands from the ground using them to support the trunk with the elbows and shoulder blades as close to each other as possible to ease tension in the cervical vertebrae.

Promotes blood circulation relieving pressure in the veins of the legs and facilitating the blood flow to prevent varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Brings all the energy to the throat to benefit the thyroid and parathyroid ensuring a smooth functioning of the basic metabolism.

Benefits the whole respiratory system, is suitable for asthmatics, and cures breathlessness and palpitations. Suitable in the case of prolapse of internal organs, it tones them and cures constipation.

In the case of damaged cervical vertebrae it’s useful to put a folded blanket under the shoulders and the arms to soften tension in the aforementioned vertebrae.

Contraindicated in the case of cervical hernia, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism (in this case it should be substituted with Viparita Karani); during menstruation especially in the first few days with intense flow; nose, throat, eye or ear affections. Should be abandoned immediately if strong heat is felt in the face, throbbing in the throat and a sense of discomfort and suffocation is experienced.

Removes apathy and gives determination overcoming sluggishness.

The activated Chakra is Vishuddha, the Chakra of the thyroid. It has a feminine polarity.

Hala 2HALASANA the plough pose

Lie on your back with the legs and feet together, arms outstretched at the sides with palms on the ground. Activating the abdominal muscles, lift both legs keeping them straight and united, bringing them to a vertical position (with back problems or with weak kidneys lift the legs with bent knees).

Inhaling, put pressure on the arms to raise the buttocks and back from the ground, exhaling bring the legs over the head until the feet, if possible, touch the ground. Joining the hands intertwine the fingers to bring the shoulder blades closer together in order to protect the cervical vertebrae.

Stimulates and favourably drains the pancreas, liver and spleen relieving the pressure on them. Stimulates the endocrine glands and is very useful for diabetics. Gently massages all the organs in the abdomen. In addition it provides a regulating action on the thyroid. If held at length, at least five minutes, it lowers blood pressure. Tones the spinal nerves improving the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates the thymus improving the immune system.

Contraindications are disk hernias and disk problems, menstruation and pregnancy unless one is an experienced practitioner; otherwise follow the same indications as for Sarvangasanana.

It helps to overcome shyness and laziness.

The activated Chakra is Manipura, the central/navel Chakra. It has a masculine polarity.

Matsya_2_converted(1)MATSYASANA the fish pose.

Lying down bend the knees and raise the pelvis placing the hands underneath it with palms facing downwards. Lower the pelvis with the buttocks resting on the hands. Inhaling, push the elbows against the ground to raise the head and shoulders arching the trunk and opening the chest upwards. Exhaling, bring the top of the head to the ground (with problems in the cervical vertebrae place a prop under the head). The elbows support the arching of the trunk. Matsya 4The legs can be straight, crossed or in padmasana (the lotus pose).

Cures constipation and even chronic bronchitis and asthma; prevents colds and sore throats, tones the lumbar-sacral area, relieves inflamed and bleeding haemorrhoids, tones the genitals and the nervous system.

Contraindications are hernias, disk problems and arthritis of the cervical tract of the spine; heart disease (can be practiced with due caution), peptic ulcers, and in pregnancy only the partial pose should be practiced, very gently.

As Matsya, the fish avatar, saved the arc from the flood, this pose takes us out of the agitated and excited waves of our emotions.

The activated Chakra is Vishuddha, the Chakra of the thyroid. It has a feminine polarity.

The second part is coming soon!

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With thanks

Sabine

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The ‘Yoga is Magic Newsletter’ highlights the best in poses, sequences and advice. Learn about special programs, retreats, vacations and events. After signing up to the newsletter, you will receive my 'Yoga Ratna' video course completely free (€ 27 value), and the diploma thesis I wrote while studying at S.I.Y.R. School (School for Teachers Training of Yoga-Ratna). For my thesis I wanted to elaborate yoga sequences which could help reactivate the femininity inside us. By reading my thesis you will learn four yoga sequences - I created one sequence for each element: earth, water, fire and air. I called my thesis "The Feminine Dance", because I perceive life as a dance, sometimes frenetic, sometimes slow, sometimes serene and so on. I hope you enjoy the magical world of Yoga Ratna!

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