Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stretching your yoga capabilities

Age is truly mental. Look at what contestants and play-at-home folks of all ages are accomplishing, thanks to 'The Biggest Loser.' If nothing else, this long-running show proves that the battle for well-being is not waged with a scale or food, but in the space between your ears.

I've recently hit some new benchmarks with my yoga practice. While I'm only 'intermediate' and might never get to 'advanced,' it's ok because I know that I'm more flexible now than I ever have been. 

Here are a few secrets to achieving new heights in yoga:
  1. Breathe. Yoga experts say this is critically important. Breathing right not only improves your form, but it allows you to sink progressively deeper into each pose. 
  2. Go to smaller, less attended classes and ask the instructor to correct your form.
  3. If you take yoga at a full-service gym, arrive 30 minutes early, hop on a cardio machine for 20 minutes, then do 5 minutes of rolling before going into class. Your muscles and tendons will be ready for serious stretching.
  4. Avoid discouragement with reinforcement. Start with poses you can do really well so that you have a positive mindset, and gradually work into the new pose or perfecting an existing one. Reinforce your new poses by reviewing them online, then try them in front of a mirror. 
Thanks to the above, I now can achieve heels-down on my first downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) in practice. It used to take at least four to get there.
From Yoga Journal
I can do a proper revolved triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana).  It's still not my favorite pose, but I've been working hard on twisting technique while keeping a deceivingly calm facial expression.
From Yoga Journal
I've been able to do a Bird of Paradise (Svarga Dvidasana), which was exciting and uplifting until I got a major charlie horse!
From Athleta
And I completed a very awkward looking extended side crow without tipping over onto my nose in the first two seconds! (no, this is not me in the photo)

The secrets are balance, strong core and finesse
I couldn't have done any of the above even a year ago. Be encouraged, dear reader: if this old bird can do a great pigeon pose, you can too.  
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1 comment:

  1. You are a yoga rock star but we already knew this... :-)

    xoxo from kid land..other wise known as Michigan


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