There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Yoga poses to choose from, so how do we know which ones are the most essential to our well-being? According to my teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda, the basic Integral Yoga® Hatha 1 class is ideal to keep the body and mind happy, healthy and in harmony. He even went so far as to say the more advanced poses are just to keep things interesting, so we don’t get bored doing the same asanas day after day. The following poses were recommended by him, in the order given:
- Eye-exercises! (because of the positive effect on the brain as well as the eyes)
- A few rounds of the Salute to the Sun
- Cobra Pose
- Locust Pose (or Half-Locust)
- Bow Pose
- Head-to-Knee Pose
- Full Forward Bend
- Shoulder Stand
- Fish Pose
- Half-Spinal Twist
Then he stressed finishing the asana portion of the class with Yoga Mudra, followed by Guided Relaxation. He said it was more important to shorten asana time than to eliminate the Relaxation, as it was the time during the class when the body could right itself.
After the Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) Swamiji recommended some pranayama practices, including the Three Part Deep Breath, Kapaalabhati, and Naadi Suddhi. Back in the early Integral Yoga days, when I was teaching at the New York IYI, the class lasted 75 minutes, and it was a challenge to get all this in without feeling rushed! To me, this profound practice is the best way of keeping the body flexible and strong, as well as toning the organs and glands. Big Yoga is patterned after this effective formula, and can be adapted for the larger body, so that all body types can enjoy the tremendous health benefits of Yoga.