Precautions for Hatha Yog Practice   
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Most of these precautions are common sense, however we are listing them just the same. They will ensure you have a safe practice without any problems and get maximum benefit.

- The first thing is not a precaution but a suggestion. Begin the practice with a prayer to the Lord. Bow down before your yog teacher and all other yog teachers and fellow practitioners because of which the practice of yog is alive today. Promise to practice regularly, and pass it on to whoever you can. Ask for knowledge and light - as Swami Vivekananda says, this is the only unselfish prayer.

- Practice on an empty stomach. Wait at least four hours after a meal to practice  more if it is a heavy meal. The best time to practice is in the morning. This is true for any exercise

- Please empty your bladder and bowels before the practice. Yog is a cleansing process that proceeds best when the body is clean. Try to take a bath before practice if possible.

- Wear loose clothes during the practice. Shorts are recommended. Men should prefer to practice bare-chested.

- Do not practice when you are unwell, sick, under the weather etc. Even if you have a headache, avoid practice. At this time, what the body needs is rest, not yog.

- Men should wear a tight underwear (preferably a traditional langot) during practice.  This is especially useful to prevent damage to the urinary and reproductive systems during stressful back-bends and inverted postures.

- Women have been suggested to avoid practice especially inverted postures while they are having their menstrual period.

- Follow the sequence  kriyas, sukshma vyayam, asan, pranayam, dhyan for optimum results. The entire sequence should take between one to two hours maximum. The ratio between asan, pranayam and dhyan can be worked out according to the objectives of the practitioner. Youngsters will be more focussed on asan, middle aged on pranayam and senior citizens on dhyan.

- Do not use any props as far as possible. Do not try any pose that you think you cannot do, without exercising extreme caution. When doing a pose if you feel out-of-breath or feel pain of any sort, stop immediately.

- In case of tiredness during practice, you can practice shavasan (corpse pose) between postures. Try to do shavasan for at least five minutes at the end of the practice. This adds inestimable value to the session.

- Follow all the principles listed in the "Principles of Hatha Yog" section as far as possible.

- Do not do the asans on a hard, cold floor like a cement floor. Grass, soft earth or at least a soft mat or rug should be used. This provides warmth and certain softness.

- When doing shirs-asan (head-stand), it is suggested you use a small rolled up towel, in the shape of a turban, under your head. There are two schools of thought for shirs-asan. One says that you should balance on the crown of your head, keeping the body erect, and the other says you should balance on the upper part of the forehead, taking care not to put any pressure on the crown, which is the location of the brahma-randhara chakra.  Try out both variations to see which one suits you better.

- Avoid practicing shirs-asan against a wall. It is better to learn slowly in the middle of the room.

- After doing shirs-asan, be sure to do shav-asan for five minutes to relieve the body from the pressures of the inverted pose.

- There is no need to learn hundreds of poses unless you want to become a teacher. Mastering  a few poses of each type is sufficient