Yoga is about balance. Despite what people may think, physical flexibility is not the primary goal.
Each yoga “asana” or “pose” uses opposing muscles to collaborate and work together, making each stretch have a counter stretch. Allowing flexible people to build supporting muscles for strength, the strong and athletic to build flexibility and range of movement and, the stressed to learn how to relax…. Thereby creating a more balanced individual.
Back in the day…. a yoga “Asana”, was created as a tool to allow the body to sit comfortably for long periods of meditation. But, nowadays we use it as a way to find balance. It as a instrument to control the out of balance stress response system, allowing us to let go of the small stuff, to be less reactive.
As we all know you don’t have to be an ascetic or travel to caves to experience yoga…. various postures and breathing techniques are simple starting points and can be done anywhere. It just helps to keep in mind that yoga was born out of skilled and enlightened observation of life in all its forms and expressions. It is thus, by far, one of the most sophisticated systems for not only physical health but for understanding the mind and a deep exploration into the connection between both. In other words……………. what yoga can teach us is that everything essential we need for our health and happiness is already present in our systems.
Picking one “asana” can target a specific muscle, joint, tendon and address multiple therapy issues. An asana can make you stronger, increase your bone density, massage organs, balance hormones, increase muscle endurance , aid lymphatic drainage, emphasize better understanding of the spine and yet calm a frazzled mind!
For all those women out there….. the biggest revelation I have seen (in myself as well) is the use of one’s own body weight as the resistance weight to stabilize your core muscles. This helps to trade fat for muscle and aids in recovering bone density. From the age of 40, women face the inevitable struggle of muscle loss. For those women dealing with pre-menoupause and the challenge of combating Cortisol, the stress hormone, Yoga’s intelligent system not only reduces Cortisol levels but in most cases stops and reverses bone loss.
Alas….. the biggest advantage of yoga is its anti-aging secret. Yoga is the answer for longevity. Age becomes just a number and your energy levels, your spinal health and your bodily ability don’t conform to advancing years. Who doesn’t want that!
A typical class should entail the following (each posture opens the body in a different way):
• Breath and movement synchronizing (to bring on efficient circulation and heat. A deep awareness building exercise.)
• Lengthening movements (to increase the volume of inhale in tight constricted chest muscles)
• Forward folds in standing poses ( to stimulate apana vayu (energies responsible for elimination), open stubborn hamstrings, stretch the spine, tone waist and legs.)
• Standing Backbends ( to stretch and invigorate the spine and open tight sternum area)
• Standing Twists ( lymphatic drainage, hormone stimulation , stabilizing muscles)
• Standing side bends in wide leg positions (release inner groin, inner thigh muscle, strengthen legs and pelvis muscles)
• Standing Balance ( For stabilizing muscles and toning legs, Arm Balances)
• Surya Namaskars and Vinyasa’s (breath and movement syncing) For increasing muscle endurance and muscle stamina.
• All or a few above categories in seated poses (for deeper access into the body)
• Abdomen work (preparation for inversions)
• Inversions ( Reversing the flow of gravity on organs and blood flow systems)
• Restorative poses for deep flow of Prana (energy) in the body
• Breathing or Pranayama
In Short- If health and balance are a priority for you, yoga must make you curious. Yoga brings you to better your potential and reveals a better you. Everyone should take advantage of a process that enables you to think more clearly, breath more effortlessly and move more efficiently.