By Faye Martins
Let’s be honest, when someone thinks of yoga training they visualize the postures they see on the cover of a magazine. When a new student enters a Yoga school for the first time, he or she may have a little anxiety about the ability to perform a posture with proper alignment. That said, let’s look at the benefits of yoga posturing.
Every pose (asana) in yoga has specific meaning and brings different benefits to the body. In some cases, the pose looks simple but the benefits are extensive. Poses can be quite powerful when performed correctly. According to some yoga instructorss, performing an asana means striking a balance between movement and stillness and each pose epitomizes a mental attitude. Let’s examine three basic asanas and their value to the yoga practitioner.
A personal favorite, Ananda Balasana or happy baby pose, is performed on the back, gripping the inside, outside or big toe of the foot with each corresponding hand. This posture can dramatically reduce lower back pain and discomfort. The hips, buttocks, inner thigh and back are all stretched during this asana. Props, such as a folded blanket, may be used to support the neck if there are neck or knee problems. Ananda Balasana is contraindicated for pregnancy, so students should be advised.
Navasana, or boat pose, strengthens the abdomen, the spine and hip flexors. It also stimulates the kidneys, thyroid, intestines and prostate gland. Practiced regularly, it improves digestion and reduces stress. An important consideration for those new to yoga is that navasana is performed differently than the similar Pilates position, with regards to the hip flexors. In Pilates, the focus is in disengaging the hip flexors to tone the abdominal muscles, while navasana engages those muscles.
Savasana, or corpse pose is one of the first poses that beginners learn. It completes most practices and although it looks simple and straightforward, this pose sustains many parts of the body. Full concentration is required to reach a completely motionless mind and body and optimal relaxation. This asana clears the respiratory and circulatory system and relaxes overworked muscles. It reduces stress levels and the skills needed to achieve this state can be called upon by the practitioner during his daily life for reducing anxiety or troubling thoughts.
Asana practice is a valuable tool and with guidance from a competent yoga teacher it can be adapted to suit the practitioner in his or her skill level, interest and area of focus. Encourage your students to include asanas with benefits they desire in their home practice, as well as trying new ones during class.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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