Yoga for Health

Following Baba Ram Dev, I practice Yoga every morning. There is one problem, my knees pain and as he provides instructions through the television, I have no means of asking how to solve the issue. Is there any way you can provide proper guidance?
Geeta B. age 39, Naya Baneshwor

As with any at-home Yoga practice, it is important to initially consult an expert instructor in person. They can ensure that you understand the proper alignment of an asana (posture) before beginning a regular routine alone. Having said that, usually when people have problems with their knees, it is due to hyper-extension of the knee.
Ram Dev recommends students to do rounds of sun salutations (surya namaskars) and he does them quite quickly. If you are not as experienced as he is, it is best to go a little bit slower. Pay close attention to your knees and ankles. Make sure your knee, when bent, always remains directly above your ankle so your leg forms almost a 90 degree angle. If your knee extends beyond your toes, you are likely to feel a lot of long-term pain.
If you’re looking for some knee-habilitation, you can purchase two tennis balls and slowly massage the area around the knee for relief. Also, try and do asanas which help strengthen the quadriceps (chair pose), these indirectly benefit the knees also.
I am having a very difficult time with quitting smoking. I hear that Yoga has cures for almost everything so I thought I would try asking you. Do you have any suggestions?
Prajwol S. age 33, Sanepa

Smoking is an addiction like any other. We tend to be addicted to sweets, television, gossip, etc. Take it one day at a time and find something else that is tangible, or tactile which you can replace your time and energy on. In the Yoga world we often chant mantras and carry rudrakshya beads to help keep track of a specific mantra that is typically repeated 108 times. Try carrying a necklace of beads and when you feel the need for a smoke, repeat a positive affirmation in your mind until your craving subsides.
For example: “I love my lungs. I want to breathe fresh air.”
Stating something with a generally happy emotion again and again will trick your mind, body and spirit into feeling happy. Stay away from negative mantras like, “Smoking kills,” as this will make you feel sad and disappointed and inevitably you will want to reach for your next cigarette. Yoga is all about uniting the mind with the body so that when you do cave in to your cravings, concentrate on each inhalation and exhalation instead of mindlessly smoking. In no time, you will be able to overcome your addiction.

?I am a working mother of two very active children. Though I have the support of my in-laws, I am finding that when I return home from a late night of work I have very little energy left to cook dinner and my patience decreases with my kids. What can I do?
Deepika G. age 37, Kamaladi

?If you are looking for more energy and patience, you’ve come to the right place! Yoga is the perfect way to find balance for our modern day, stressful lives. To increase your energy, try sitting down in a cross-legged position with your palms on your knees, hands-down. Close your eyes and perform several rounds of kapal bhatti (skull illuminating). Inhale a deep breath in, and as you exhale, pretend a mosquito is flying into your nostril. Keeping your mouth closed, exhale through your nostrils to shoo away the imaginary insect. As you exhale, draw your navel close into your spine. Continue several exhalations until you’ve completed several rounds for a total of one minute. Eventually, work your way up to five minutes. There should be no tension or straining of your facial muscles. Keep everything relaxed. Don’t worry about focusing on any inhalation—your body will naturally inhale in between each exhale.
Once you’ve completed five minutes of kapal bhatti, take rest in a simple cross legged position. Focus only on your own breathing. Make mental observations about your breathing. You may notice your inhalations feel cool inside of your nose and your exhalations feel warm. Keep observing these differences without attaching any judgment. If you feel a tingle in your knees or ankles, just observe it without saying it’s either good or bad. This simple act of meditation should help calm you down, providing your with more patience when you play with your children. Enjoy every moment with them!?

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