for your body, mind & soul

by Jessie Chapman

(published by HarperCollins Australia)

yoga means...union, relaxation, suppleness, breathing, lightness, meditation, strength, stretching, sacred space, aims to balace all aspects of the self: physical, mental, emotional and spritual, to the bring out our highest potential. It offers us a way to live a healthy and harmonious life. Jessie Chapman and photographer Dhyan introduce you to the art of yoga postures that will release your body and mind from the stress of daily life and set your spirit free.

Photographed on the beautiful beaches of Byron Bay in northern new south whales, Australia, this is an inspirational guide for beginners to yoga whith clear instructions to the postures, breathing, focus and the benefits as well as lots of sequences or mini classes to follow.

Knee Hug

This simple posture softens the back. Hug the knees into the chest to release and relax tight spasming lower back muscles.

Positioning: Lie on your back. Hug your knees into your chest, while you keep your head, neck and shoulders relaxed and on the floor
Breathing: Use normal breathing
Focus: Close your eyes or gaze beyond your knees and relax your back muscles.
Hold: Hold the posture for as long as it feels good. Practise this posture after backbends to release the muscles.
Benefits: This posture releases the muscles of the lower back and relaxes the body.

Sukhasana - sukha = happy

This easy cross- legged posture strengthens the back and gently opens the hips. Enjoy the calm as you sit in this centered position.

Position: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Use a couple of blankets to sit on if this is more comfortable. Place the back of your hands onto your knees, relax your shoulders down and roll them back to open up your chest. Focus on your spine lifting and elongating and breathe fully, expanding your chest. Keep checking to make sure your back is straight.
Breathing: This comfortable asana is ideal for sitting and focusing on taking deep, full even breaths in and out through your nose.
Focus: Keep your eye gaze at a point in front or have your eyes softly closed. Focus also on keeping your back lifting, pulling in and lifting up your spine, rolling your shoulders back and down, opening your chest and on your breathing.
Hold: For as long as it is comfortable, then cross your legs the opposite way and repeat the posture.
Variations: Sit your buttocks on some blankets. Sit up against a wall if your back muscles are weak.
Benefit: This posture is a comfortable position to sit and practise meditation. It strengthens the spinal muscles, gently opens up the hips and stimulates blood flow to the pelvic region.

Vrksasana - vrksa = tree

It is a great feeling to find your balance and maintain it. Once you find your balance, enter into a quiet empty mind space free of thoughts.

Positioning: stand in Tadasana. Bend your right leg and place the foot into your left thigh so it feels locked in. Move your right knee back to open up your hip. Keep your left leg muscles activated and lifting. Have your body weight centred, so you don't slant over onto your standing leg. Have your hands in prayer position in front of your heart or on top of your head. Drop your shoulders and roll them back. Open your chest and relax your facial muscles.

Breathing: Breathing should be deep and full, lifting and opening your rib cage up and out to the sides as you inhale.

Focus: Have your eyes gaze at a point directly in front of you, and breathe softly and rhythmically through your nose.

Hold: For ten rhythmic breaths. Exhale to release your right leg down and repeat the posture on the other side.

Variation: Place one hand on a wall for support to maintain your balance.

Benefits: This posture teaches balance, strengthens and stretches the leg and feet muscles. It also soothes the mind and nervous system and develops concentration.