Yoga for Flexibility
Aug 27, 2018 03:30PM
● By Dana Spain
Practicing yoga for increased flexibility is beneficial for both body and mind. Benefits include better posture, decreased risk of injury during daily activities and exercise, improved range of motion or performance of everyday activities, improved athletic performance, and stress reduction in the muscles being exercised while maximizing the strength of all joint movements.
Asanas (Postures) and Energy Flow
Practicing yoga increases the lubrication within the joints, ligaments and tendons. Yoga is very low impact, as the poses or postures (asanas) work on precision and correct alignment. Yoga poses are held for a set time, giving the body an opportunity to increase blood flow and vital supplies to all areas of the body.
Asana, any of the yogic postures or movements, as an exercise isolates specific muscles; pressurizes specific points or areas to enhance glandular and organ function; and redirects, flushes or increases circulation. Asana as a meditation creates a special link and foundation between mind and body, and releases emotional masking and blocks stimulated by the posture. Asana as a connection to the energy flow opens pathways between meridians—channels transporting life energy (prana, chi or ki).
In providing the support that the body’s limbs need to function properly, the joints, ligaments and tendons are brought into balance. Flexible joints are essential for optimum health and activity. Yoga emphasizes balance in all areas and seeks to strengthen all muscles groups equally while exploring breathing, physical feelings and emotions.
Science of Stretching (Mind and Body)
Connecting breathing mechanics to an engaged musculoskeletal system while performing the poses provides a holistic challenge to the whole body. Stretching is not only about the physicality of our muscles but also about the nervous system that controls them. The brain, which controls the nervous system, is a survival mechanism whose sole aim it is to protect us. To improve your flexibility, play with your limits and use your breath.
The brain interprets familiar movements or body positions as safe ones. Anything new sends a threat signal to our muscles, causing constriction. The way around this is to go to the edge of your stretch, enough that the nervous system starts to warm up to the movement and gradually allows more range of motion. Inhale and check the integrity of your posture and alignment. Exhale and think about letting go, remaining calm, and sinking a little deeper into the posture.
In Sanskrit, the word yoga means “union”. It is a multi-faceted, highly structured practice with sweeping physical and mental health benefits. Yoga promotes recovery and reduces stress, and during a yoga session, the joints are taken through their full range of motion while using the breath as a monitor to develop improved flexibility and the expansion of the mind.
Dana Spain joined the Anahata Yoga Sound and Energy Healing team in 2014, and is now the acting manager. She has developed a passion for sound healing, Thai bodywork and kundalini yoga. Through Sevak Singh and Amarjot Kaur, Spain received gong training and advanced crystal alchemy singing bowl training. She completed Kundalini Yoga Level 1 Teacher Training in 2016, and looks forward to continuing her growth and supporting the growth and needs of the Anahata Yoga community. Connect with her at 480-699-9600 or [email protected].