By Faye Martins
Practicing Yoga can be both relaxing and empowering. There are many different kinds of Yoga postures and an assortment of ways to organize the flow of postures in order to strengthen different aspects of the body and mind. Yoga poses that invigorate and strengthen us also help to empower us in other areas of our lives. As a beginning Yoga practitioner, many of the postures and sequences will feel quite challenging. Completing a full practice of beginning Yoga postures will invigorate you and enhance feelings of accomplishment and self-esteem. An intermediate Yoga practitioner, on the other hand, will most likely feel comfortable with many of the foundational Yoga postures and sequences. However, he or she may still struggle with a number of more advanced postures including inversions, backbends and arm balances.
One of the primary injunctions of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is to practice non-violence. Living in a non-violent way also extends to our Yoga practice and ourselves. As you work on perfecting Yoga poses that you are comfortable with and strive to deepen your practice of more challenging asanas, remember to listen to your body. Do not push yourself past the point where you are comfortable and safe. This “edge” may shift from day to day as your physical and emotional state fluctuates with your life experiences. For example, you may go skiing on Sunday and on Monday find it difficult to fully enter into Upward Facing Bow because of the tightness in the front of your body. Be patient with yourself and honor your body’s limitations. A regular, daily Yoga practice will allow you to excel most fully in your practice. A regular practice will also generate a deep feeling of well-being and expansion.
* Dolphin Plank Pose
This pose will strengthen your upper back, torso and arms. It will also engender feelings of strength and competency as you release muscular tension in your shoulder and neck areas. To practice Dolphin Plank Pose, warm up first with several full Sun Salutations. When you are adequately warmed up, come to your knees on your Yoga mat. Clasp your hands together and place them in front of you with your forearms flush on your Yoga mat and forming a triangle. Push up into a modified Downward Facing Dog while keeping your forearms and hands on the mat. This pose is known as Dolphin Pose. Hold this position for three breaths and then begin to slowly lower into a Plank Pose. Hold this position for two to three breaths and then push back up into Dolphin Pose. Try to keep your shoulders relaxed and your shoulder blades flat on your back. Repeat this sequence several times, moving slowly and deliberately. When you are ready to come out of the posture, rest in Extended Child’s Pose for several breaths.
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