Yogi Dr. Malik our in-house Editor (since 2003) is a recognised International expert and authority on the subject of yoga. He has been practising, researching and studying this discipline for over 35 years.
He is an accredited Yoga teacher specialising in kundalini, hatha and laya yoga. Our Editor is an advanced practitioner and has experience of many styles of yoga. He has also been teaching for over 20 years and is fluent in several languages, including Hindi, Punjabi, Gujrathi, Persian and Urdu.
Q: Aside from padmasana, what other poses can I sit in when performing meditation and does it matter even what shape I sit in? - S. Lucas
Good question. Meditation can be practiced sitting, standing or even lying. There are several classical asanas (yoga postures) that are recommended because they have been tried and tested Padmasana is one such posture. Meditation can be performed using different postures. Indeed, there are even practices which are known as walking mediations. I would also recommend the practice of siddhasana which is an excellent posture.
Its name reflects the divine nature of the pose because traditionally it was performed by the sages and those who were considered divine in nature. Performing this asana brings many benefits including strengthening of the spine, makes the abdominal muscles stronger, and helps to awaken the kundalini. inner energy known as kundalini.
Additionally, this asana has been recommended for those persons suffering from heart conditions and asthma. It is useful for strengthening the lower back, hips and sexual organs. Siddhasana also helps the mind focus and concentrate.
- Sit down on the floor, stretching your legs out.
- Place the heel of your left foot near the perineum point and the base of the left foot against your right thigh.
- Bending the right leg place the right foot on the left ankle.
- Place the right heel at the base of the genitals. Keep the spine erect and straight.
- Gaze downwards, with your chin touching the base of your throat/upper chest.
The respected Swami Sivananda recommended four particular asanas for the practice of Japa and meditation. These are padmasana, siddhasana, swastikasana and sukhasana. It is recommended to hold these postures for up to three hours in one stretch. This may not be possible for some practitioners, but gradually as you build up your practice you can increase the time of sitting.
Swami Sivananda said that: “If you can attain mastery over this asana [siddhasana] you will acquire psychic powers. It has been practised by accomplished Yogis, hence the name Siddhasana. Even stout people with large thighs can practice this Siddhasana easily.”
(p.122, Sivananda, Swami. Kundalini Yoga. The Culminating Meditative Experience of HathaYoga, published by The Sivananda Press, Durban.)
Q: Trying hard to trim my waist line – any general asana I can practice that can help me – looking for something not too hard or complicated please? - R. Stephenson
The New Year is certainly a good time to work on the waitsline. Seated Twist Marichyasana C (variation) is a nice simple asana as is bhujangasana (cobra) and try to perform them regularly and they should help a lot with toning the waistline and provide good stretch to muscles in and around the spinal and stomach.
Seated Twist Marichyasana C (variation)
This is a simple twist and much easier to perform than the classical full version. It also provides a good stretch to the thighs, spinal region and of course the stomach muscles.
- Sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you and toes pointing upwards.
- Look straight ahead and bend your right knee and put the sole of your foot on the floor.
- Pull your shin closer with your hands to wherever is comfortable for you.
- Now twist your body and place your right hand flat on the floor behind you.
- Press your left arm along your right thigh (or hold the knee with your hand if this is uncomfortable) until you feel a good stretch in the leg.
- Gently turn and look over your right shoulder.
- Hold the pose for at least 10 seconds and longer if you are able. Keep head up and eyes staring straight ahead. Repeat all the steps mentioned but not on the other side.
This asana works wonders for relaxing the body and a miracle tonic for a de- stress session. Practised for thousands of years, it mimics the cobra as it rears its head. The spine too is given a gentle rest. It is a soft styled asana working naturally with the contours of the body, helping you slide off tension that has a habit of resting in the shoulders and back.
Benefits of performing serpent include,
- Bones in the neck become less brittle.
- Muscles of the stomach strengthen and fat is reduced from the waist.
- Excellent asana to perform regularly to reduces the cramps and pains that often accompany mensturation. Your jaw, neck and mouth also strengthen.
How to perform the serpent: –
- Lie down on the floor, navel point facing down, chin should touch chest and all muscles should be slightly tensed.
- Arms should rest at the side of the body.
- Rest forehead on floor and hold the position for at least 20 seconds.
- Now gently lift the forehead off the floor and rest your chin on the floor, stretch all your body and hold position for 20 seconds.
- Raise the neck and head slowly as if you are a snake. Now bring your hands close to your chest and lift the upper part of the body onto arms and lift head up and back.
- The whole body should rest on the arms and toes hold position for 20 seconds.Repeat this exercise at least twice and longer if you can.
Q: Looking for something different to gift my friends this New Year apart from usual New year gifts – any recommendations?
Yes, get hold of I CAN DO IT (2020 calendar) published by Hay House Publishing . The calendar has a day to day affirmation which is inspirational to read and helps set up a positive mind-set. We love it. Louise Hay remains’ one of this century’s greatest self-help experts and her inspirational writing has influenced millions of people globally and shaped the minds of many great teachers in this field of work. Available online and at any good retail book shop.