Strike a Pose
May 12, 2009 by The Dove
From celebrities to yogis, everyone seems to be doing it, but what are the benefits of yoga and where do you begin if you’ve never tried it? The Green Dove headed to YogaWorks to get the low down from instructor Chrissy Carter.
What are the benefits of yoga?
Practicing yoga offers us an amazing opportunity to reconnect with ourselves. We begin to sharpen our focus by tuning into the subtleties of our body and breath, slowly allowing the extraneous layers to melt away. Yoga reminds us of who we are and what we value underneath the stress and the fear and the anxiety, which is especially relevant during these difficult times. We can use our practice to draw parallels between the challenges we face on our mats – the intensity of a posture, our own physical limitations, our ego – to the challenges we face off the mat. Observing ourselves in our yoga practice can offer us tremendous insight into how we choose to deal with situations we can’t control. Yoga teaches us to find peace in the midst of the chaos.
For someone who has not practiced before, or who knows nothing of yoga, can you give some insight into its history and benefits?
The history of yoga dates back 5000 years but its principles are still relevant to our lives today. There are many aspects of yoga, including philosophy, breathing and meditation, and asana (or postures). The asana practice allows us to use the tangible, physical body as a doorway into the deeper layers of awareness. The postures are an excellent way to increase strength and flexibility and are used to help reduce stress and foster better health and well-being.
What poses would you recommend someone adopt into their everyday busy lives?
Ankle-to-knee on a chair - Sit tall towards the edge of a chair. Bend your right knee into your chest, keeping the right foot flexed. Mindful to rotate from your right hip, slowly cross your right ankle over your left thigh (directly above the knee). If this is challenging, sit up higher by propping something underneath you. Stay here and breathe. If this feels comfortable, inhale and lift a little taller through your spine. Exhale, begin to fold forward over your right shin, hinging at your hips. Stay for 5-10 breaths. Inhale to lift. Keeping the knee and foot flexed, exhale uncross your ankle and place the right foot back on the floor. Repeat on the left.
Simple Twist on a Chair – Sit tall on the seat of a chair, facing right. Place your left hand to the outside of your left knee and right hand on the back of the chair. Inhale, lengthen your spine up towards the ceiling. Exhale, begin to gently rotate your ribcage to the right. Focus on linking your movement with your breath, allowing your breath to lead you deeper into the pose. Hold 5 breaths. Inhale to come back to center. Exhale to release your hands and notice the effects of the posture.
What are each of their direct benefits?
Ankle-to-Knee on a Chair - This pose stretches your outer hips. It also helps to release anger and frustration (both conscious and unconscious) from the body.
Simple Twist on a Chair - Twists help to detoxify the body and are excellent poses in times of transition. They wring out stagnant energy and help to bring in fresh perspective.