Yoga poses are an opportunity for you to get to know your body.
Whether you are a teacher or a student, Sensational Yoga Poses helps you learn the language of your body so that you can relate to each other and develop a great relationship.
The shape of any pose is just the starting point for improving health, strength, balance, flexibility and coordination.
If you are doing yoga to get more flexible then a first step is to become familiar with the different types of stretching techniques. You may find that with a repertoire of stretching methods it is easier to stretch responsively. You can vary the type of stretching you do based on the state of your body at the time.
If you're goal is to improve flexibility, here are some flexibility tips.
Most effective stretching methods (effective in that they improve flexibility) include some sort of muscle control whether relaxing the muscle being stretched or activating it or it's opposing muscle.
Another reason to get into stretching is that it can feel good.
Relaxed stretching is particularly beneficial in this regard. For a more profound effect you may find meridian stretching is helpful, particularly if you learn to use the meridians to guide the sequence in which you stretch the parts of your body. A very basic technique is to "follow the flow" of the meridians.
Whether you believe in the idea of Qi or not, the meridians offer an effective model for stretching the parts of the body in an organized manner.
One of the things that doesn't come across well on a printed page is learning how to move slowly. It helps to see some movements in action. So sensational yoga poses also has a video channel on youtube. Here's a partial list of some of the videos. And here's a yoga routine designed for improving body awareness.
Some people get into yoga to deal with pain. Others experience pain in the process of doing yoga.
Learn how to alleviate pain when doing yoga poses with simple adjustments and practice of some basic actions.
If posture (or a lack of good posture) is the problem, then some simple exercises can get you used to the feeling of good posture. Rather than thinking about good posture and reminding yourself to sit upright, you'll be able to feel good posture. If you focus on feeling your posture you'll be able to find good posture with minimum effort. You might even like the feeling.
If you want to do yoga as an exercise you may find that Ashtanga yoga is suitable since it is a set series of yoga poses. The first challenge is learning the sequence of yoga poses. I'd suggest learning a few poses at a time and then gradually adding on more and more poses. Once you've learned the sequence (and even while you are adding to the sequence of poses) you can then focus on refining both the poses and the transitions between poses, which are called Vinyassa.
You may be doing yoga for improved coordination and body awareness or you may find that that is one of its benefits.
One practice that lends itself extremely well to upper body coordination is the dance of shiva. Other means of improving coordination and body awareness are balance. Simple balance exercises can include balancing on one foot or balancing on the fronts of the feet. More challenging balancing poses can include learning to balance while upside down. But as a first step it helps to get comfortable while upside down without having to deal with the balance component, hence the use of a wall. Even with the use of a wall fear may still be a problem. Learning how to deal with fear can be one of the benefits of doing inversions.
With sensational yoga poses the goal is the minimum effort required to stabilize the body so that sensitivity is maintained. This balanced state could be thought of as Tensegrity. With a focus on balancing sensitivity and stability it becomes possible to adjust the amount of effort required to suit the circumstances while still keeping the body safe. The result can be a yoga practice that ends with you feeling like you've done work but are reasonably refreshed at the same time.
When doing yoga poses it can easily become apparent when you are lacking in strength, whether in the arms, the waist or the hips.
One trick to working for strengthening the body while doing yoga poses is being able to disassemble yoga poses into component parts that make it easier to strengthen the individual parts of the body while at the same time improving awareness and control of those parts.
From there gradually integrate the isolated parts using progressively more challenging poses or actions.
For yoga teachers in particular anatomy can be a boon to both your personal yoga practice and to teaching yoga classes since in gives you greater flexibility in how you direct your students (or your own) awareness within the body. It also provides you various themes for exploring the same poses in different ways. In this sense anatomy is more than just learning the names of bones and muscles. It is experiencing them first hand in your own body and helping your students experience it in their own body.
Technical names don't even have to be used so long as you can direct them clearly on where to plant their awareness within their body.
Breathing (and bandhas) are closely related to anatomy because breath can be one of the ways in which you learn to feel your anatomy. Different breathing exercises use different muscles, and so you can use breathing exercises to learn to feel and control specific muscles. In the same way bandhas and other yoga exercises target particular muscles. Learn to feel and control bandhas, then you further learn to feel and control your anatomy.
Work is required to maintain any relationship. But that doesn't mean you need to be serious all of the time.
Yes I am serious in a lot of the photos on this page. But when I'm in front of a class and seeing a sea of serious faces I often like to suggest that students lift one or both eyebrows, perhaps in time with their breath or a particular action. Another exercise is to pucker the lips.
Another way to have fun in yoga is to practice poses like arm balances or other crazy poses just for the fun of it. Another way to have fun, particularly when you practice a set sequence of poses like Ashtanga is to try something different, try mixing up the order of the poses or try poses that you don't regularly do.
But failing that, try smiling while doing a difficult yoga pose, or an easy one for that matter. It's just yoga.
One approach to sequencing yoga poses is to focus on body position. For example start with standing poses.
Standing poses are handy as warm ups and also a great place to start flexibility work particularly if you aren't flexible to begin with. Then you can go to the floor to work on types of seated poses.
To make transitioning between seated poses smoother you can focus on doing cross leg poses together, then kneeling poses, then seated poses with one or both legs straight.
Prone and belly facing down poses can be used to work on the front of the body and the back, likewise supine and belly facing upward poses.
Yoga arm balances and Inverted yoga poses deserve special attention since they involve balance and turning our usual world upside down.
Shoulder anatomy for yoga teachers: learn the landmarks of the shoulderblade and the muscles that attach to them for improved body awareness and shoulder control.
This is a step-by-step introduction on how to do a headstand. It shows how to set up neck and shoulders and how to get comfortable being upside down in bound yoga headstand.
To improve balance with yoga it helps if you understand some basic principles for balance so that you can improve balance more efficiently.
How to lift into a yoga headstand with legs straight? This article shows you the steps and what to focus on to stay balanced.
Multifidus anatomy for yoga teachers, how it works with the transverse abdominus, quadratus lumborum and psoas major muscles to support and shape the lumbar spine.
Stability is a key factor in a lot of yoga poses. Learn about creating stability and staying balanced in headstand yoga pose.
Prior to learning the Yoga arm balance called galavasana it can help to learn how to lift and stabilize the hips in pigeon pose. This page shows you how.
Anatomy for yoga teachers is anatomy that you can feel. It's for yogi's who wants to learn to feel and control their own body and understand what they are feeling and controlling.
A progression of side plank exercises for shoulder stability, inner and outer thigh strength, quad and hip flexor activation and hamstring strength.
Psoas anatomy, stretching the psoas, using it to flex the hip, preventing lumbar shear while doing reclining hero pose.
The psoas muscle, using it to transition from up dog to down dog, role as a lumbar stabilizer, stretching the lower fibers of the psoas.
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Supine yoga poses including bridge, wheel pose, supine bound angle, big toe pose variation, and preparations for wheel pose, plow pose and shoulderstand.
Some tips for making yoga boat pose more doable while still strenthening abs and hip flexors.
Twisting poses: Passive, assisted and active twists for the ribcage and spine. Passive twists use gravity, assisted twists use the arms while active twists use the abs and intercostals.
Belly down and prone yoga poses including downward dog, upward dog, bow pose, cobra, chaturunga dandasana, locust, pigeon, frog pose, pigeon, prone twist and some shoulder stretches and resting poses.
Cross Leg stretches offer a simple way to twist and bend the spine and stretch the hips and shoulders. They can also be used for strengthening.
Seated yoga poses can be used to help isolate your spine, hip joints and pelvis. Feel and control your spine while seated, to make these same movements easier while standing.
Tips for working towards kneeling yoga poses and semi-kneeling postures.
Having trouble breathing deeply? Learn how to feel and control your respiratory diaphragm so that you can breath deeply with ease.