If there is no yoga instructor or experienced person in your area to guide you in selecting an effective series of exercises, breathing techniques and deep relaxation best suited to you, do the best you can with the following guidelines. Be aware, however, of the fact that no guideline is absolute and that each body has different needs and each person a different life-style which may or may not allow him to abide by the guidelines given. Thus, you will have to be creative and resourceful in seeing how you can apply these techniques to your life.
1. WITH EXERCISES should be done in each case will be discussed in the section on specific problems. In general, we do the dynamic exercises which wake up the body and make its energies flow more freely in the morning, so as to prepare ourselves for our day’s activities. The more static and relaxing exercises are usually done in the evening when we want to relax the body and the mind from the various tensions which have accumulated, at the same time revitalizing them for the evening activities.
If, however, someone cannot abide by this suggestion, he can make his own program. For example, he may have time only once a day and want to combine both types of exercises together in the morning or in the evening. Or, he may have time only in the afternoon (but not after the meal, please). Others may simply freely that their body prefers some other timing.
It is important, if at all possible, to do some exercise which brings blood to the head towards the late afternoon or evening or even before bed if no other time is possible. Most of us have a lack of flow of blood and thus oxygen, nutrients and hormones to the brain. The more hours we are sitting or standing, the more the blood tends to gravitate towards the feet. Thus, it is useful to do some exercise, such as the half shoulder stand or the prayer position, so as to replenish the blood supply to the brain. In the case of the half shoulder stand, which is essential for all, but especially for those with varicose veins or other problems of the legs, such as swelling. Bringing blood to the head is especially important to all those who have low blood pressure, anemia or hormonal problems. Check, however, with the chart of contraindications to see if perhaps you have some problem which prevents you from being able to do the half shoulder stand. Alternatively, check with your doctor or yoga instructor.
Back-bending exercises should be balanced by forward-bending ones and movements to the right balanced by movements to the left.
2. THE LENGTH OF THE EXERCISE PERIOD will depend on how much time you are willing to spend each day on revitalizing your self. We will give various series for each specific problem. There will be the basic series of absolutely necessary exercises which you will have to perform if you want to get some help in overcoming that problem. This is for those who are willing to do only the absolute minimum. We do not recommend this series for most. It is just the best we can do for someone who is unwilling to pay real attention to his health. Then we will give the series which would be what one should really do if he wants to harmonize his body and mind. Then, in the section on comments, we will give additional exercises which will aid you even further in creating a healthy body and mind, if you can spare that time. For more exercises it will be best to consult an instructor.
3. THE ORDER IN WHICH THE EXERCISES SHOULD BE DONE will be given in each case. If, foe some reason, this does not suit you, you may adjust it by following your inner voice or consult an instructor, if there is one available. Most series will finish up with some breathing exercises and deep relaxation, possibly involving some positive imagery. If you are unable, for reasons of time or unsuitable environment, to complete the series with a relaxation at that time, then try to do it some time in the afternoon, after the evening exercises or even before going to sleep, if there is no other solution. Relaxation will be suggested after both the morning and evening series. Best results can be obtained if you can do both. If there is no time, select the most suitable hour of the day for yourself to do your relaxation. Relaxation is a very important aspect of your self-healing; in some cases it is even more important than the exercises, especially in psychosomatic illnesses.
4. TAKE YOUR HEALTH INTO YOUR HANDS. Be sensitive to your body’s needs and be creative in developing a daily program for maintaining your health.