Irene Nelson: “Yoga is the path to myself”

Irene Nelson gave a master class in yoga and gave details about the technique of performing some asanas specially for the “Otdohni” magazine

Halasana (the pose “plow”) perfectly tones up muscles of the back, the vertebrae and the sympathetic nervous system. This asana removes muscular rheumatism, neuralgia, sprains and protects against premature ossification of the vertebrae. Halasana has also a powerful healing effect on the organs the digestive tract. Enlarged liver and spleen, obesity, congestion in the gall bladder, chronic constipation are cured by this posture.

To perform halasany you need to lay down flat on your back, stretch your arms above your head, palms up, parallel to the spine. Join both legs and slowly raise them, knees should not bend. Create an obtuse angle, and then gently and slowly lower your legs until your fingers can touch your toes over the head. Without bending, push your knees together. Press the chin to the chest, breathe slowly only through the nose.

Ardha-matsendrasana or “incomplete kingly fish posture” is to twist the spine and bend the spine to the side, so that the flexibility of the spine improves. In this case, we are doing the same twist of the spine in both the right and the left. Ardha-matsendrasana should always be performed smoothly, without jerks.

For a start, sit down on the floor, extend your legs and relax. Bend your right knee and place it on the outside of the left leg knee. Then, bend the left leg and put the left foot so that the left heel touches the right buttock. Try to keep the shoulders on a level that is parallel to the floor – it’s the original position. Inhale-exhale and turn right, place your left elbow over your right knee. Put your left palm on the right foot or ankle, grasp the right foot. The right knee should be as close to the armpit of your left hand as possible. Sitting bones should always be on the floor. Keep a right hand behind your back and hold on to your waist. In this position, turn your body slightly more to the right, but without too much stress. Fix the position for 5-15 seconds, keep your back straight, breathe normally. Then slowly return to starting position. Twist the spine to the left in the same way(left foot is now on top, and turn left to do the excercise).

This position significantly improves digestion, it massages the abdominal cavity, improves flexibility of the spine, eliminates sciatica. The nerves of the spine are toned up by increasing blood flow.


The most famous asana is the pose of lotus, or padmasana. This is a vital position, best for contemplation. It is suitable for almost everyone. Restrictions are only for people suffering from varicose veins. Despite the apparent ease of performing this asana, its therapeutic effect is amazing:

Daily practice of padmasana improves the condition of hips, knees, ankles, eliminates diseases of leg muscles and tendons. The pose of “lotus” creates good posture, relieves spinal curvature. And such important organs as heart, lungs, liver and stomach begin to function properly when a person practices padmasana, which leads to a complete physical and mental harmony, tranquility and good mood.

Sit up straight, legs stretched forward. Put your right foot on the back of the left thigh so that the heel touches the lower abdomen. Then place the left foot on the back of the right thigh so that the heel touches the abdomen. Both feet must be turned soles up. Hands are in namaste-mudra (ritual gesture). Head, neck and torso are in a straight line. Breathe calmly through the nose.

Many yogis call Shirshasana the Queen of all asanas. It promotes the sublimation of sexual energy that goes from the bottom – the Muladhara chakra, located at the bottom of the spine to the upper chakras, giving your brain a spiritual force in the form of the energy of a higher order. In addition to the energy (prana), the brain also gets much blood that makes it work incredibly productive, accelerates the thought processes and improves memory. Shirshasana purifies the blood, cures diseases of the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, urinary and gastro-intestinal tract, as well as diabetes, asthma, and even deafness. For women, shirshasana is a panacea for various illness of the uterus and ovary, regular practice can even heal infertility. However, you must have a sufficient level of physical fitness and yogic knowledge to master shirshasana. This position is not for beginners in yoga. There are also some limitations to the people suffering from certain chronic diseases. It is better to consult a yoga teacher if you are a beginner.

To perform this asana, put a towel, folded in four, on the floor. Sit down and put your fingers together and lock them. Then, leaning forward, hug the ground with your arms up to the elbows. Lean against on the top of the locking of your fingers. Slowly and gently lift the leg until it accepts a vertical position. For start, you need to stay in this position for 15 seconds (you can later increase the time of doing  shirshasana). Then slowly lower your legs, and avoid any jerks. Be sure to breathe only through your nose, and do this asana on an empty stomach!

Another important, but difficult for beginners posture is ushtrasana (or “camel pose”) – this is a deep trough, which activates your heart chakra and relieves you of spine pains, strengthens the muscular system and improves your digestion, and breathing becomes deeper.

Get on your knees, placing them on the width of the pelvis. Put your hands on your thighs, pull up your entire body, as it were stretching the edges. Then lean back and grasp the achilles. On the exhale, bend the chest and waist. Your head sould be at the back. You should keep the body by muscle tension of the legs. You should breathe normally through the nose. You should stay in this position for no more than 30 seconds. Then get back out of it slowly and gently.

Vrikshasana, or so-called “Tree pose” is done as long as you feel comfortable to be in this position. This pose is a good excercise for the vestibular apparatus, it improves posture, eliminates flat feet, strengthens the hand muscles, relieves stiffness of shoulder joints.

Standing on one leg, take the second one, bent it at the knee, and place it on the inside of the thigh of the supporting leg, toes down, heel up. It is necessary to press the foot on the thigh stronger, so that balancing on one leg will much easier. Chest and pelvis joint should be “open”, the abdominal muscles should be relaxed. This will give the opportunity to build your breathing in a special way, and the extraordinary comfort will come to the body.

Photo: Ilya Shabardin