Work, bills, deadlines, kids, social relationships... these are just some of the things that cause us stress in our daily lives. Too often, we become too consumed in one or two aspects of our lives that we start to neglect the others such as our physical, mental, and spiritual health. This is one reason yoga is popular worldwide; it creates a routine and venue for people to unwind, clear their minds, and achieve inner peace. Ishta yoga is one of the styles and types of yoga that specializes in this.
ISHTA stands for Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda yoga. To give you a better idea of what this yogic style is about, here are some examples of Ishta Yoga poses you can expect to learn in class.
Bharadvaja is referred to as a spinal twist because it aims to improve spinal health and help prevent the vertebral discs from slipping. To do the Bharadvaja's Twist, sit on your mat with knees bent, back straight, and feet flat on the mat. Inhale and try to lift your head and neck as high towards the ceiling as you can to lengthen your spine, your sit bones pushing down on the mat. Exhale and place your right hand on your left knee and twist the upper body. Do the same on the opposite side.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
The Standing Forward Bend is one of the Ishta Yoga poses that lengthens the spine, exercises the back muscles, and stretches the hamstrings. Stand straight and let your weight fall evenly on your feet. Then bend forward from the waist, going as low as you can go before you feel any pain. If you want to get the most stretch for your hamstrings, keep your legs straight at all times. But if you experience pain, you can bend your legs a little and try to reach the floor with your fingertips.
Cat/Cow Pose (Bidalasana)
The Cat stretch and Cow pose are referred to as one pose because they are always performed together. It is performed as part of Ishta yoga poses sequences, though is popularly used in other yogic styles as well. Like the Bharadvaja's Twist, the Cat Cow pose also improves spinal health by exercising the back muscles.
Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
The Bow pose is one of the easier Ishta yoga poses and can be done properly regardless of your level of practice or flexibility. Basically, you lie on your back and clasp your hands around your ankles, lifting your legs and chest up while stretching your back. This pose works the leg, back, and shoulder muscles.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
The Camel is one of the backbending Ishta Yoga poses that can easily be done by beginners. You start by kneeling and then bending your body backward until your hands can reach the soles of your feet. If you're uncomfortable, you can place your hands behind your hips for support as you slowly bend backwards.
There are establishments that offer not just Ishta Yoga classes but retreat sessions as well. This is to make it easier for students to clear their minds by being in a conducive location for meditating and learning breathing exercises. If you don't have the time or money to sign up for and Ishta Yoga camp, then simply sign up for classes offered at your nearby yoga studio.