2 Important Points to Stay Safe in Yoga
By: Elsa B. @ Baskog.com
Yoga is a continuously growing trend in the fitness industry. Many individuals, from all athletic levels, attend classes as a way to calm and soothe the body for stress relief while others prefer its strengthening aspects. Regardless of the reason, yoga is popular because of the overall benefits from realigning the body and mind.
The founder of Iyengar Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar, firmly believed that yoga is a way of life for all. He expressed the importance of precision with anatomical alignment with every pose and pioneered the use of props such as blocks, straps, benches, wall mounts, and more. These innovations were meant to guide individuals into a pose with proper alignment to minimize the risk of injury. These were especially useful to those who lack sufficient strength and flexibility due to fatigue, weakness, injury, or ailment.
Where ever you go and whatever type of practice, it is common to hear teachers remind students on alignment and breathing. Inhaling and exhaling with each movement; and mindful joint placements or positioning. This is because following natural anatomical alignment encourages good posture that creates a stable foundation; in turn promotes coordination of breath and movement; that eventually leads to mind-body balance and strength.
CONNECTING WITH THE BREATH
Bringing the focus on the breath is meditative in itself. Connecting optimal breathing pattern with each posture not only assists in attaining full range of musculoskeletal motion, but it improves oxygenation, blood circulation, and nourishment of every cell in the body. When these happen, the body becomes rejuvenated, and a sense of inner strength can be felt. Moreover, learning to connect the breath with each movement helps the body become more efficient in other areas of fitness including aerobic activities like jogging, running, cycling, or swimming. Scientific studies even support that regular practice of yogic breathing and postures can significantly improve lung and cardiovascular functions, and promote rapid post-stress recovery and mitigate against the effects of metabolic syndrome.
ALIGNMENT WITH THE POSTURES
Yoga can certainly improve the physiology of the body. With consistent practice, one can achieve not only advancement in poses, but resilience to many day to day activities. Alignment means involvement and reflection with each breath and movement. This promotes an honest relationship with the self and maximizes the possibility for overall wellness. Every movement is done with purpose so alignment is vital in every practice from centering to setting intentions, to breathing and movement from one asana (posture) to another.
Just as breathing serve as a basic yet an essential function in a living being, so are bones, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues as they maintain vital organs and structures connected, aligned, and moving. The spinal column, for example, is the main support for the body that neutralizes forces of gravity and movement from activities as simple as sitting or standing. The spine also maintains stability and weight bearing capacity that allows for movement involving bending or twisting. This is why it is important to be mindful of body mechanics and to avoid compromising proper form for any pose as misalignment can cause joint pain and decreased range of motion.
Familiar asanas such as Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose), Balasana (Child's Pose), or even Savasana (Corpse Pose) may be used as resting, meditating, or transitional poses. It is important to keep in mind that despite their basic looks, these are not idle postures. As a matter of fact, these are postures that provide that opportunity for realignment and maintaining safety with each following movement.
There are many benefits one can obtain from regular yoga practice. These fundamental or transitional poses also have multiple variations. Other poses can likewise have twists and bends many individuals can not even begin to imagine ever achieving. But with consistent practice, the body follows where the mind sets the intention.
Yoga is a safe and invigorating practice, but it can definitely be an outlet to injury if one does not pay close attention to the body. It is advisable to maintain proper alignment, continue controlled breathing patterns, feel the pose and not the pain, and to keep an open mind for modifications. And in certain circumstances, consider talking with your healthcare provider before beginning any type of yoga practice.
Most of all, practice beyond the asanas. Remember that yoga is a transformative journey of the body and the mind through spiritual, mental and physical discipline.