Pandal hopping and dhunuchi naach, street food and night-long addas — we love it all. But the hectic pace of the Puja days can take a toll on the body and mind. Is there a way to have our payesh and eat it too? Of course! So here’s a sequence to help you do all that you want to this festive season and then reboot. It will keep your body supple and strong, and also bring a glow to your skin that you so desire. So spread your mat and get started. And remember to focus on your breathing.
1. Adho-mukh Svanasana Variation (Downward Dog)
Place both hands and feet firmly on the ground while raising your mid-section off the floor. The body forms an inverted V. Allow your heels to press down into the floor. Raise the right leg off the ground first and extend it away from the body, lifting it as far up as possible without strain. Repeat with the other leg.
How it helps: This pose impacts the calves and hamstrings. The shoulders, arms and wrists are engaged, and the pose gives the spine a deep stretch. This asana provides vital energy to the body and increases the blood flow throughout the system, improving functioning of the organs.
PS: You want that glow? Hold this pose for as long as you can without overstraining.
2. Ardha-Matsyendrasana (Lord of the Fish)
Switch to this slowly from Adho-mukh Svanasana. In a slow movement, bend the left knee and place it on the floor. Once your hip has touched the ground, place the right leg over the left knee. Twist the body to the right side, put your left arm around the right knee, forming a lock between the left elbow and the right knee. Hold on to your right ankle. Left hand goes around the waist. The head looks over the right shoulder. Repeat with the other side.
How it helps: This pose opens up the muscles of the back and shoulders; it’s particularly effective against backaches and helps ease stiffness in the hips. Now you know what to do once the backache and tiredness hits you after pandal hopping.
3. Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand) Variation
Once you complete the Ardha-Matsyendrasana, allow the body to slip into Shavasana or corpse pose. Lying flat on the back, gradually raise the lower body till you can lift your hips off the ground and balance on your shoulders. Keep your spine as straight as possible.
How it helps: This asana strengthens the shoulders all the way down the spine, hips and legs. It takes effort to keep the entire body up in the air. The reversal of blood flow energises and revitalises the brain. If the long Puja days and even longer nights give you headaches, slip into Sarvangasana as soon as the first signs of fatigue start to show. Do skip it if you have high blood pressure, asthma or hypertension.
4. Setubandhasana (Bridge posture)
From Sarvangasana, bring your feet down to the floor. Holding on to the ankles, gently lift the hips off the ground. Keep the soles of the feet flat on the floor. Support the body weight on the shoulders and tighten the glutes for stability.
How it helps: This asana strengthens the erector spinae muscles, which surround the spinal cord and improve posture. Repetitions tone the buttocks and thighs while sculpting the shoulders and back. Setubandhasana cleanses the body by means of stretching the heart centre and lengthening the abdominal region. Pay attention to the breath. If you feel a tightening on the throat centre, you can gently release the pose. Try to deepen the stretch every time you get into the pose but at the same time listen to your body and don’t be afraid to relax. Don’t worry about overdosing on luchi-mangsho or phuchka-kathi roll. This pose will increase the blood flow in the pelvic region and you can knock off those extra layers on the stomach in no time.
End this sequence with Bhramari or the bee-sound breathing. This pranayama increases the production of the natural antioxidant melatonin by the pineal gland. Melatonin promotes good sleep patterns and balances the hormones in the body in addition to keeping the mind calm and relaxed.
Pictures: Sayantan Ghosh