Beginning Yoga Practitioners Should Take It Slow

Beginning Yoga pic When people begin practicing yoga, they may desire to push themselves harder than they really should. With phrases like “no pain, no gain” a part of common culture, beginners frequently look at more advanced students and attempt poses they are not ready to master. Doing so puts stress on the body and can cause real injury. In yoga, when the muscles begin to strain, the body should take that as a sign to stop. Slowly, beginning yogis will build the strength and flexibility needed to achieve more advanced poses. In yoga, it is important to listen to the body and respect its limits.

All yoga postures are integrated, making it imperative to master fundamental poses before attempting more difficult ones. The fundamental poses build the stability and flexibility needed for more complex poses.

For that reason, beginners should stick to introductory classes rather than taking whatever class fits their schedule. Practitioners can always talk to an instructor about their level and decide when they are ready to advance to intermediate classes. Taking an intermediate class too soon can encourage yogis to attempt poses that they are not ready for, especially when most other students in the class seem to flow into them without much of a struggle. This flow results from practice and dedication.

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Bringing Mindfulness to Your Forward Fold

Forward Fold pic Standing forward fold, or uttanasana, is not a pose that we typically think much about. One of the first asanas of a typical sun salutation, this pose is often performed while on “auto-pilot.” In this article, we’ll break down how to bring a bit of mindfulness to your next forward fold.

Lead with the heart. Many of us developed poor “toe touching” habits thanks to years of youth sports team and P.E. warm-ups. In uttanasana, it’s important to dive forward with a flat black and to lead with the upper chest. This mindful movement will help you avoid rounding in the back and will provide you with a deeper stretch.

Activate your core. Don’t think about forward fold as an opportunity to just bend over and let gravity do the work in stretching out your hamstrings. Instead, engage your abdominal muscles and use them to help pull your heart closer to your shins and your hands flatter to the ground beside your feet.

Take a moment to look inward. While you’re settling into your forward fold, look up toward your belly button for just a second (but be careful not to round your back). This can help you connect visually with the powerful muscles you’re using to pull deeper into the pose.