By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
When students are new to a Yoga practice, they are often enthusiastic and excited about getting into postures (asanas) they have seen on the cover of a magazine. They might approach this Yogic discipline as though it is something to be conquered, rather than becoming one with body, mind, spirit, and the present moment. Therefore, it is important for the new student to be reminded of the gentle, self-honoring nature of Yoga, and to be mindful of the truth – that every person’s body has its own comfortable range of motion.
The following are basic Yoga safety guidelines for new, and veteran, practitioners, alike:
Practicing a set of warm-up exercises, at the beginning, or even before a Yoga session, promotes healthy blood circulation, lubricates the joints, and relaxes the muscles. These warm-up movements, at the outset, prepare both mind and body for a pleasurable Yoga experience.
The best warm-up exercises are generally easy, mild, or circular stretches. You might begin by gently reaching for the sky, then leaning a bit to left and right, performing waist circles, then gently rotating the torso. Sit on the floor in Sukasana (Easy Posture) and perform Kundalini pelvic circles; again, rotate the trunk gradually in a full circle for a minute and reverse the movement for another minute. This movement massages the internal organs and unlocks the lower back.
If a movement does not feel good, back off from the movement. If you experience pain, the body is likely communicating an injury, or a potential injury, that can be nurtured and healed with Yoga. This is the core of Yoga asana intention and Yogic philosophy – to heal and not harm.
This is not so much a pranayama session, but a state of mind, during asana practice (Yoga posturing). Another component of basic Yoga posture safety is to attend to the breath from the beginning to the end of asana practice. Breath is the elixir of life. Frequently reminding Yoga students to breathe to the depths and the ends of the lungs is one of the best ways to get all the health benefits Yoga has to offer.
Not only does deep, intentional breathing assist in providing all of Yoga’s benefits, it also assists in the safety of asana practice. When paying close attention to the audible presence of the breath – in and out – you are acutely more in tune with everything that is going on with the body. In this way, you are immediately aware of stiffness, pains, within joints and tight muscles. This attention to breath makes it possible to make appropriate adjustments to heal pre-existing problems and prevent potential injuries.
The payoff for attentive, deep breathing during asana practice is that you are also immediately, and pleasantly, aware of new horizons in your personal practice. If you feel you cannot breathe, when you are on the physical edge of an asana, you are pushing too much. Breath serves us as a natural gauge for success, while giving us the time to notice more flexible joints, stronger muscles, and the increased depth in your movement.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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