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Postures How hard should you try?

urga2010-07-05 02:24:23 +0000 #1

I have been practising for about a year now.I am really enjoying yoga but I feel my personality/lifestyle is affecting my progress.

I am a keen cyclist,mountaineer and sea kayaker,which means I have a lot of tight muscles as a result.This makes certain postures difficult for me and I feel I have to push more into them to get anything from them.My Hamstrings and ankles are very tight and I suffer in the simplest of poses as a result.

I understand the ethos of Yoga enough to know that you should not 'force' your body into poses that feel uncomfortable.But surely you have to experience some discomfort to attain the flexibilty to progress.

I would like to know how much effort you should put in the pose to progress as efficiently as possible.What is the correct attitude to adopt and how to overcome my basic stiffness?

cyclezen2010-07-05 02:36:24 +0000 #2
I'm in/was in the same boat, regarding attitude, but when I can step outside my 'box' and become more accepting, things go better, smoother.

I put the same question to all my teachers (3). They all came back with pretty much the same reply.

"Work into the pose to the point where you can still maintain the proper alignment, ie hip opener poses should be focused on that, even if it means a 'shallower' pose, same for the other poses. Focus on maintaining the breath. Allow the inhale and exhale cycle to help me 'deepen' the pose. Try to let my body get 'comfortable' in the pose, then work to extend a bit more. Acknowledge some days I'm more flexible and some days less.

I make it less about 'getting there' than 'being wherever' - when I do this my body finds a way to relax into any pose a bit more."

Because it takes time for me to get 'comfortable' in poses, I go to classes which are not as 'flow' oriented - quick in and move on to the next asana - and spend more time in each pose. I like this better anyway, since it helps me get my mind and body into the same place more often. I think this approach also helps minimize any possibility of injury to myself, since limits are approached slowly. Like most anything else worth doing, I try to do an organized class practice at least 3x a week, one just doesn;t get me anywhere. Then I try to get a few home practices whenever time allows.

I still pour sweat thru every practice, but its a more flexible sweat. OMmmmm
Devlin72010-07-05 02:45:38 +0000 #3

I hammered a way at yoga for ten years giving 110% to everything. The reality is things come a lot quicker when you relax. I now use my breath as a guide. The rate and rhythm shouldn't change that much from sitting relaxed.

Explore the edge and always use the breath to indicate your effort.
Hubert2010-07-05 02:33:08 +0000 #4
Make sure your are not on a low fat (no fatty dairy), low greenies diet. This lowers the amount of the ingested vitamin A, and paired with forced yoga postures, leads to sure cartilage injury. Than you will have to stop, and whatever progress you made by them in yoga on a mental level, will be lost also.

About forcing postures, I know what you talk about. That hamstring is so rocksolid that it seems it never will stretch, right ? Like strings of steel, we wonder, how will they ever stretch beyond this, than we stretch as if our life hangs on it. It is important to do postures what isolate the muscle, to avoid strain on other, more flexible parts (lower back, knees, ankles) and have patience as overstreching will injure the tendons or their insertions.

Our dear fellow and teacher InnerAthlete gave an example for someone, where he said it takes about a year of regular practice to open up a headstrong hamstring. Based on this, I give you an example:

My hamstrings are like two inches or 5 centimeters shorter than they should be, 50 mm/365 days = 0.13 mm. This is the amount of flexibility I should achieve every day. Not noticable, that's for sure. Even in a hundred days, it is just a little more than a centimeter (a third of an inch) what I think is still below the average awareness level. So it is understandable that it seems that there is no advancement at all, but we have to keep it up, and finally we will succed.

Development is not linear, an sometimes you seem to get stiffer than more flexible, flexibility also depends on a lot of other factors, age, time of the day, food, drink, physical exertion, mental state. Without a regular, everyday in the same time, long lasting (several months) practice there is no noticable result, and even with it, it is minimal. A huge amount of patience, and self restraint is needed to succed. It is hard to assert the exact amount without the help of someone who has been there. That's what yoga teachers are for.
Hubert2010-07-05 03:28:05 +0000 #5
I meant private sessions. Also letting easier on the activities what caused the tightness is something to think of.



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