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If you are a Yogi, you practice Yoga. So before revealing what all the Yogis need to know about their Yoga practices I would like to quickly define what Yoga is for those who may not know.
Yoga is a term that originated in ancient India and comes from a Sanskrit word which means “union”. Originally Yoga was a set of disciplines in Hinduism to exercise the mind, body, and spirit.
Poses or postures called asanas are designed to tone, strengthen, and align the body and to make the spine supple. It is believed that practicing asanas will promote good flow of blood to entire body including the organs and glands.
Breathing techniques called pranayama will help to slow down the heart rate, and open the rib cage allowing for deeper and slower breathing. Oxygen to the blood will help to make any particular asana easier to perform, as well as increase the flow within the body.
Meditation or dyana comes through pranayama which will help quiet the mind. Quieting the mind helps to clarify “self” and increase enlightenment. Meditating and breathing while in the poses will ultimately unite one’s mind, body, and spirit.
Please note Yoga is not a religion, but rather a practice to promote health, wellness, and vitality.
Branching off into six main types, Yoga in the modern world has been studied and practiced by those who seek to live a higher quality of life. It is recommended for alleviating high stress levels and the associated problems that come with stress such as hypertension and high blood pressure. Yoga helps with alleviating many of the syndromes and “itis’s”, chronic pain, and to reduce cardiovascular issues. As a whole body physical therapy approach, Yoga in today’s world is to undo much of the damage our current sedentary lifestyles have bestowed upon us.
Yoga is such an ancient practice that is still practiced today and is growing more and more popular. So, I would like to present the question: should we be practicing Yoga the traditional way as the Hindus did?
I think for most participants the benefits of Yoga as the traditional practice, the answer is yes. But, for the Yogis out there my answer is a resounding no!
Being a Master or Teacher of Yoga, the Yogi must practice their discipline multiple times a day. With a rise in studios popping up everywhere, and a demand for classes and memberships to keep the studios operational, the modern Yogi begins to over practice their asanas. And, with a rise in social media, Yogis will post poses of the day, striving for the ultimate contortion to inspire us to get better for one day we too can look like they do.
What every Yogi should know about Yoga is simple. Remember that the practice was created in ancient times where sedentary lifestyles did not exist. The ancient practice was to teach balance of mind, body, and spirit.
As an Exercise Physiologist I have a responsibility to look at the big picture when prescribing exercise. A good program design includes a balancing act of strength, power, and endurance through a full Range of Motion of all the joints. This means the joints need stability and mobility while maintaining their rigidity and tensegrity. In other words, your joints should move freely through a full Range of Motion but not beyond that ROM.
When joints start to move beyond their designed ranges they become hypermobile. Hypermobile joints are ticking time bombs for injury. Many Yogis develop this hypermobility due to their over practice of Yoga.
Let me put it another way. If you sit all day, you will benefit from Yoga as it will help to undo the damage from sitting. So, if you do Yoga all day, you will need something else to undo the potential damage of becoming hypermobile.
Let me share the conversation I had with my friend and Yogi from Florida, Gillian Taylor of GillianTaylorYoga.com.
So, to wrap this up, my message to all the Yogis out there can be summed up with this: Remember that Yoga is a practice of balance. Hopefully I have inspired you to add routines into your schedules to “undo the Yoga” the way most of us do Yoga to “undo our sitting”. And remember, more is not more. When you achieve a pose in Yoga, do not continue to try and gain more range beyond the human body’s designed ROM.
Be Well and Drink Water Folks!
“Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.” -Knute Rockne