When we focus on the practice of Yoga asanas, the main purpose is to maintain the health of all muscles, joints and internal organs. Stretching these parts within their limits and slowly building strength and flexibility is the purpose of Yoga asanas. However, one should note the following tips and precautions for Yoga.
Everyone is different
Different muscles have a different level of strengths, some muscles and joints in the body are more flexible than others. Everyone has a
different proportionate length of various body parts and different levels of strength and flexibility. So no two people can do a yoga pose in exactly the same way.
Alignment is important
Basic alignment is important in Yoga asanas as it will maximize the benefits of the pose. It will increase the strength and flexibility without causing any pain, discomfort or injury. Basic principles of various asanas should be remembered while aligning into the pose.
Remember the purpose of asana
It is important to remember the focus and purpose of asana. For example, while doing forward bends, one needs to keep the back as straight as possible and bend from the waist, and not to hunch as the middle and upper back is not as flexible as waist joint. In backbends, one should be careful of the amount of stress that is put on the weaker part of the back especially the lower back and neck.
In twists, it is important to keep the spine erect and not bend to the side. In standing poses, it is important to become aware of the stress, which is put on the knees. In balancing poses, it is important not to lose the balance and fall.
We should take care of not overstretching the joints. Generally knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck and waist joints are more likely to suffer because of improper alignment. Sometimes students keep stretching themselves to the maximum limits in asana, which causes a micro tear to the ligaments, and over a period of time, the injury becomes serious.
If we are careful with these joints and not overstretching the muscles, it is easy to avoid pain and maximize the benefits of asanas. However, if one shifts the leg little here and there, then it does not make much difference as long as he or she is not causing the overstraining the part or causing fatigue and pain. If the person listens to his body and understands his or her limits then the pain and injuries can easily be avoided.
The Human Body – A Miracle
The Human body is a miracle; You can build a great strength over time by stretching it just within its limits but without causing pain and injury. Even if you make a little mistake in the asana and if it is not causing any pain or micro tear in ligaments, muscles, and joints then it will strengthen your body.
The body has the ability to build the strength but we need to use it within limits. Also, this cannot be done in few days but we must allow at least 6 months before the body builds the strength.
Yogic texts do not talk much about the perfect body but instead talk about the perfect mind. Asanas play an important role in developing acceptance of our body and encouraging us to achieve healthy and strong body. This is more important than actually concentrating on how perfect the body looks in the mirror.
Follow Warm-up Routine
It is very important that you follow diligently warm-up routine at the beginning of your Yoga sessions. Avoid entering late in the class and directly start the yoga asanas. This minimizes the risk of injury and makes the workout and the physical tasks more effective.
These warm up routines stimulate and improve the blood circulation in all the important muscle groups in our body. Warm up routines trigger off synovial fluid in the joint cavity, which nourishes and lubricates the joint tissues. Your muscles will contract and release when you consciously stimulate your breathing; bringing in fresh oxygen to the muscles.
An inadequate supply of oxygen in the body restricts the optimal performance of the muscles that may lead to muscle soreness and reduced muscle endurance. Many Yoga instructors start with the Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation which itself is a total body workout and a great way to start a Yoga class. Normally every instructor will have their own set of warm up tips and exercises.
However, ideally all warm up exercises should include exercises to warm up the spine (from the base of the skull to the tailbone), shoulders, hip, knees and ankle joints. A good warm up session benefits your body immensely. Muscular contractions lead to higher heart rates that stimulate blood circulation. The blood vessels in the muscles dilate, increasing the flow of oxygen and blood in the muscles that prepare the body for more rigorous exercises.
The Cooling Down Process
The cooling-down process, or, a gradual slowdown in the levels of activity is another important aspect towards the end of a Yoga session. This allows your heartbeat and breathing to return to a more normal pace. It also minimizes the side effects of exercising, such as pain or dizziness.
The cool down process comprises of three main aspects that ensure total restoration of your circulatory system. Gentle Yoga postures, effective stretching and refueling with deep breathing exercises, and Savasana help to stretch and relax all the major muscles in your body, reduce muscle tension especially those that you just worked on.
If time permits an extended meditation session after your Yoga workout increases the brain-body coordination, calms the mind, improves concentration and minimizes chances of injury.
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