Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Who can do the practice?

Except for pregnant women, anyone can do the practice, including women on their menstrual cycle and those suffering from chronic ailments or other medical conditions (like asthma, migraine, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, lung related diseases, glaucoma, cataract, retinal detachment, hernia, etc.).

People with back, neck or knee injury can also do the practice with caution, to the extent possible.

2. Can pregnant women do the practice?

No, pregnant women should not do the practice.

3. Are there any age restrictions to practicing Sashtanga?

No, people of all ages can do the practice.

4. How long should I wait after undergoing surgery before I resume the practice?

Wait for 6 months after a major surgery and 6 weeks after a minor surgery.

5. How long should I wait after my meal to do this practice?

The practice should be done on an empty stomach condition.

That means, leave a gap of at least:

  • 4 hours after a full meal
  • 2.5 hours after a snack like a fruit or a few biscuits/crackers
  • 1.5 hours after a beverage like tea, coffee, or anything other than water.
  • You can drink water at any time.

6. Can I eat immediately after the practice?

Yes. You can eat or have a beverage that is at room temperature immediately after practice. Wait 10-15 minutes before consuming anything refrigerated.

7. Can I take a bath immediately after doing the practice?

After the practice, wait for 15-20 minutes before taking a hot bath and 25-30 minutes before taking a cold bath.

8. How many times a day can I do this practice?

You can do 3 cycles at a stretch, 4-5 times a day.

9. Can I teach someone how to do the practice if they are unable to watch the video?

No. The practice is based on a very subtle science. Yogic practices have the power to transform your life if done properly, so it generally takes years of training to ensure they are imparted in the right way. You can use the video as a device to offer the practice to others. If you are interested in teaching this and other practices, please contact us to find out more about the Teacher Training Program.

10. Is there any specific order to incorporate this practice with other Isha practices?

No, there is no specific order.

11. What should I do if I am unable to get into the posture properly?

In the ideal posture, only the 8 points touch the floor, which means that the abdomen and even the nose should not be in contact with the floor. If this is not possible for you right now, it is okay. Do it as best you can. As you practice regularly and the body develops the necessary flexibility, you can start working towards the ideal posture.

12. What should I do if I am unable to hold the posture for 6-7 minutes at a stretch?

If you are unable to hold for 6-7 minutes, you can start with 3 minutes and slowly work towards holding it for 6-7 minutes.

13. How do I maintain the time for each part: 6-7 minutes for Sashtanga, 3-4 mins for Makarasana? Can I set a timer on my phone?

It is very important not to set any timers or alarms. This is an internal process. Any kind of alarm will shift your attention outwards.

Hold the postures as per your experience of time. Initially, you can check your watch between each stage of the practice before moving to the next stage.

For example, check your watch before you start Sashtanga. After coming out of Sashtanga, if the time is between 6-7 minutes, move to the next stage. If it is less than 6 minutes, hold Sashtanga for some more time.

Slowly you will be able to maintain the time experientially. If you remain in the posture for a little longer or shorter duration, it is fine.

14. While holding Sashtanga, I’m slipping. What kind of surface should I do this on?

Since Sashtanga is stretching the spine and neck with the abdomen raised, you may find that your forehead or toes slip, especially if you practice on a smooth surface. You can practice on a yoga mat or find a surface with better grip to help you hold the posture.

As you continue to practice and gain flexibility, you may find that it becomes easier and more comfortable to hold the posture.

15. How do I know if I’m breathing slightly deeper than normal?

For every posture you take with the body, you will notice that your breath changes. So once you get into Sashtanga, notice how you normally breathe in that posture, and breathe just slightly deeper than that.

16. I feel I cannot breathe in this posture. Am I doing something wrong?

Your breath will not be as deep or as comfortable as it is when you are in a normal upright or sitting posture. It may feel shallow, which is fine. If it is too uncomfortable, you can hold the posture to the extent possible for you. If you are having difficulty breathing, you can relax your head slightly for now, keeping your nose off the ground to the extent possible.

Once in the posture, ensure to keep your body relaxed and breathe slightly deeper than normal.

If you still find it difficult to breathe, you can lower your abdomen slightly, keeping it off the ground to the extent possible.

If you have any other questions about the practice, please write to hatha.support@ishafoundation.org or you can contact a hatha yoga teacher near you.