Reach for the stars

ARTICLES – THE HINDU

Here are the benefits of the toe-touching jathi

RHYTHMIC MOVEMENT
A stretch that relaxes the back
What we see and desire is where we want to be. Nowadays there are many things that grab our attention and so we desire it. However, this desire lasts as long as the next attractive thing catches our fancy. With yoga, we learn to desire things that are good for us and ultimately desire to be free of desire. When we aim to reach the stars, at least we can be sure of reaching the treetops.

In this particular jathi (conscious, rhythmic movement), the mind aims to reach the toes in order to stretch the back. The stretch starts from the lower back extending all the way to the shoulders and the tips of the fingers. Be aware of keeping the fingers together. The fingers denote the senses and by keeping them together we are aware that our senses are disciplined.

Focused mind

When the mind is focused on the toes, you will find that with time you will easily be able to touch your toes. When a child looks at a mango on a tree and aims to reach it, his entire focus is on the mango. You can be sure he will get it somehow. Either he will jump to reach it or enlist the help of someone who is taller. So also in yogic life, when we have higher aspirations they may seem unreachable. However when we are focused and determined like children, we enlist the help of the entire universe. Even people of higher stature, our gurus, will stand by us in our endeavor. Help will come from many directions. So when you start practicing this jathi and feel it’s difficult, do not get discouraged. Stay resolute and you will realize your goal. Do take breaks when you are tired. The aim is to enjoy the journey as well as the goal. So be aware and do around nine rounds and then give yourself a break. These breaks actually help stretch and lengthen the muscles. But don’t push yourself too far. Tired muscles are less elastic. The more number of times you push a muscle to do a task, it leaves a kin-esthetic memory, which may cause it to lose some of its flexibility instead of increasing it.

The technique: Sit with your back straight and feet outstretched. Bend your left knee over your right. Stretch, reaching for your right toes. Keep reaching and releasing, each time being aware of how your back feels. Let the movement be slow, gentle and rhythmic. See to it that there are no fast or jerky movements. Practice for a few minutes or until you get tired. Then you can hold onto your feet or wherever you can reach and stay in that position for 30 seconds. Remember to breathe while doing the stretch. This will further stretch and loosen the muscles. Then release the left foot. Now bend the right foot and reach for your left toes. Once again stretch gently. Then hold the position and release.

- MAITREYI

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