Fitness Post – Doing Yoga Poses Properly 

I mentioned doing Yoga poses properly in my last posting about the positives and negatives of Yoga as a mode of exercise but I feel the need to expand on it to drive the point home. I am not a Yoga instructor and nor do I follow any particular style of Yoga but have been interested in it as a medium to gain flexibility since university to help me in my sport of Olympic Weightlifting.

 In fact I still have a book entitled ‘The Yoga System of Health and Relief from Tension’ by Yogi Vithaldas on my book shelves which was first published in 1957. The reason I mention this is to demonstrate my long term interest in the exercise medium. I also want to make the point that there are not a lot of Yoga poses shown in the book as it was expressed that the variety is not needed. As long as you put your body through all planes of movement and gain the right advice in doing them, you will gain all you need from a basic Yoga routine.

As an explanation of this point I have placed a photo of the Half Cobra (sometimes called the Sphinx Pose) above to show the end point on how to do the exercise correctly. I have placed a photo of how not to do it below. To get to the end point of the movement you should start it with your hands either side of your chest but don’t use your arms to get to this top position only using them for stability. You should also start the exercise with your forehead on the mat and the first movement you make is by sliding your chin along the floor and endeavor to work yourself into the hyperextended position by contracting your erector spinae muscles (column of muscles either side of your spine) one section at a time….starting from the neck until you finally contract the muscles of the lower back. Hold the top position for 5 – 20 seconds before you slowly lower your torso back to the start position. A simple exercise, but it is invariably done incorrectly. I only use this as one example.

So ensure that your routine has –

  •  forwards, backwards, side movements and twisting movements which cover the whole body.
  •  also ensure that you have poses that involve balance.
  • understand the correct breathing patterns.
  • take your body to an end range of movement that challenges you but don’t overstretch (if your muscles are shaking you are overdoing it!)
  • work on your specific body areas that have a weakness (either/and/or weakness in strength or lack of mobility).
  • concentrate on what you are doing to gain the most benefit from it (as with any exercise mode).
  • try to do your Yoga exercises in front of a full length mirror so you can see as to whether you are in the correct positions ….if possible.
  • work at your own level.
  • get expert instruction.

And remember that if you are not enjoying it (Yoga) as an exercise medium, do something that you do enjoy. Of course there are similar exercises modes such as Tai Chi or Pilates that you may get more benefit from? You don’t need to spend hours at doing these exercise modes to gain the most out of them. If you are consistently doing them most days then 10 – 20 minutes is enough…

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