Monday, November 22, 2010

Opening & Elongation

Another of the Ten Principles of Yoga is “Allowing Opening and Elongation.” When we practice yoga, we are stretching the body – gently encouraging muscles and tissues to relax, lengthen and un-knot. While we CAN force a stretch to happen, the optimal method never employs force. It is much safer – and more practical – to get into position, and then breathe and gently encourage the body to stretch at its own pace. In this way we are “allowing” the body to open and elongate, rather than “pushing” it to do so.

This one is especially applicable to life outside the yoga room. Because there too, we get the best result when we refrain from force, and instead allow things to occur at a natural pace.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Centered & Balanced

A regular yoga practice will help you feel more centered and balanced. If you tend to feel scattered, yoga will help you put the pieces back together. If you feel off-center, yoga will help to balance things out.

Yoga has a wonderful equalizing quality. It can lift sadness or calm a hyperactive mind. It can create energy or bring calm. Whatever you need, really, yoga is there to serve you. It’s your inner self guiding your outer self toward what’s best for you. As long as you don’t let your ego get in the way!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sensing Connection

When you practice yoga, you become more aware of how things are connected in your body. For example, when you engage your abdominal muscles in a forward bend you feel your lower back relax a little bit more into the pose. That’s because your abs and low back work in tandem – one engages while the other releases. After a while, this becomes second nature.

Yoga also teaches you how your body and your emotional states are connected. When you breathe deeply and slowly, oxygenating your body, you begin to relax a little bit. In time, you automatically breathe deeply when you need to slow or calm down.

And yoga helps you to feel more connected with your fellow beings. Generally when a yoga class draws to a close, there is a warm feeling of camaraderie among the students. Sharing experiences tends to make us feel more connected . . . and this sense of connection tends to make us feel good!

A regular yoga practice attunes you to so many different connections – which in turn helps you to have a better understanding of yourself, to be more responsive to your own needs, and to be more sensitive to the needs and motivations of others. Just one more reason why yoga is so good for you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Feeling Grounded and Rooted

One of the most beneficial effects of a regular yoga practice is the feeling of groundedness or “rootedness.” You might come to your practice feeling preoccupied or scattered, but when you leave, you feel much more calm.

Yoga slows us down and helps us connect with ourselves. Stretching and breathing in a deliberate way helps to clear away the chatter of the mind. So we move our bodies slowly, we breathe deeply, and as a consequence we reconnect with our selves. We feel more solid, more whole.

For me, it’s one of the best things about practicing yoga. It’s also the fourth of the Ten Principles of Yoga.