Two days ago I had the distinct pleasure of introducing Terry, Nichole, Mike, Nancy and Lian to the benefits, history, philosophy and practice of yoga. In this series, I’ll be reviewing what we learned — theory and practice — and continuing to add to their beginning repertoire, as well as any beginner’s practice.
5 (among many) physical benefits of yoga include:
1. Increased Flexibility -Lack of flexibility slows down your movements, making them less fluid and increasing your risk of muscle strains (pulling muscles in the back, quad), ligament sprains (ACL, PCL, etc.) and other soft tissue injuries (muscle tears)
2. Increased Balance – A practice centered on moving from your core, yoga increases the practitioners proprioception. Proprioception is your ability to sense the body in space and the effort being exerted as the body moves through space.
why is balance important?
-reduce your risk of injury when faced with inevitable accidents,
-keep your spine aligned to help relieve low back pain and other joint dysfunctions due to disorganization of the kinetic chain
3. Improved Circulation – By opening up your muscles, joints and ligaments you increase the rate at which blood flows to the muscles bringing more nutrients to the muscles which in turn enables the body to recover from workouts or injuries.
i.e. Arteriosclerosis – a normal physiological process of aging that results in arteries that are less elastic and pliable, which in turn leads to greater resistance to blood flow and thus higher blood pressure.
4. Keeps your heart healthy – Similar to the way in which yoga improves circulation by increasing blood flow to our muscles, it also increases the blood flowing to the heart whose primary job is to orchestrate the the way in which oxygen is circulated into the bloodstream. As we all know, it is the most important muscle in your body!
5. Increasing muscle/toning – Without our muscles we would crumple into a puddle of bones. Standing poses and abdominal conditioning will help you maintain strength so that you can keep your skeletal structure upright and functioning properly as a system.
These are just five of the physical benefits of yoga. For more info I suggest reading Chap. II “Fit Perfection” from William J. Broad’s The Science of Yoga
Ardha Surya Namaskar (Half Sun Salutation)
A mental and spinal awakening short sequence, ardha surya namaskar will help you develop a grounding stance, encourage engagement of the core, and lengthening through the side body.
- Begin in tadaasana. Close your eyes and shift forward and back on the bottoms of the feet.
- With the eyes closes scan from the bottoms of your feet to the crown of your head. Outsides of feet parallel to sides of mat, engagement through the thighs and low belly, check in with hip alignment, open chest, shoulders drawing down and back, crown of the head drawing the spine long
Follow along with the pictures:
- Inhale, open the eyes as you reach up and look up
- Exhale, forward fold, let the knees be soft and draw the femurs back into the hip sockets, internal hip rotation of the leg bones
- Inhale, straight legs, flat back, slight engagement of the belly, reach forward through the crown of the head and back with the tail bone — internal rotation of the legs still to spread the sit bones and create space for the low back
- Exhale, back to forward fold
- Inhale, rise up to stand and reach
- Return to Tadaasana