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Let’s get limber – Yoga as flexibility training

We have all had days when we feel like each asana is a little more difficult than it was ever before. After such a yoga practice, we feel more stretched, relaxed and calm. Have you ever wondered why stretching and flexibility is critical for our proper physical and mental functioning?

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I’m sure at some point during your yoga journey, you have heard someone complain about not liking yoga because they are not flexible. It is extremely important to share with any fellow yoga practitioner or enthusiast you may know, that flexibility is not a pre-requisite for yoga but a by-product. One doesn’t begin with flexibility but over a period of continued practice, attains it. Yoga combines stretching and relaxation, which lead to flexibility.

But why do we need to be flexible, you ask?
There are many benefits of being flexible. In this blog post we will look into some of these benefits.

 

 

1. Reduces risk of injury
A flexible body is much more prepared for sudden, unexpected movements and strain during intense workouts. There is scientific evidence that the incidence of injury decreases when people include flexibility training in their routines due to the enhanced ability to move unimpeded through a wider range of motion. Spending few minutes a day on flexibility training or yoga, increase your flexibility. This leads to increased circulation to the muscles and important organs. A 2009 study in the American Journal of Physiology showed that for people age 40 and over, flexibility in the body was accompanied by flexibility in the arteries, thus reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease and even death.

2. Improves everyday functions
A flexible body will always be able to perform daily functions with more ease, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. An increased range of motion also allows you to perform daily functions with less risk of injury.

3. Improves posture, balance and reduces back pain
Stiff muscles can often lead to incorrect posture. A tight muscle in one part of your body may result in overexertion and pulling on another part, changing the way one holds their body in its relaxed state and placing strain on those joints. Increased flexibility in the large muscles in the lower body can help reduce stress on the lower back and reduce chronic back pain.

4. Reduces stress in intense workouts & enhances athletic performance
A well-stretched muscle will easily achieve its full range of motion which helps us utilize the full potential of muscles. This improves athletic performance and ability to do intense workouts with less strain on the joints. So a golf swing will be more effortless if the hips and shoulders are flexible and released. A tennis serve will be more powerful if there is greater range of motion. A runner will have better control of their form and gate if the muscles are limber and stretched out.

5. Mind-body connection
Some times when we engage in intense workouts or activities, we find ourselves losing track of the mind-body connection. We may be going too fast physically while the breath is not synced to the body and so the mind too gets distracted. With a flexible body, one can retain greater motor control and ability to respond to your environment. This helps us to improve the connection with the body as well as to the environment, leading to a much more aware and present existence.

 

As I tell all my students, it is easy to over-stretch so always remember, stretching should never be painful. There should never be a shooting or stabbing pain while stretching. The focus should be on bringing the muscle to a point of slight tension. It is essential that you continue your breathing pattern throughout the stretch. A great stretch is when the breath is unaffected and synced with the body.

 

To help you get more balanced and flexible, we have two exciting workshops this month.


18th November: The first workshop will be an Iyenger yoga based workshop with focus on twisting poses, which help release the back. Using props, we will learn about correct alignment and increased range of motion.
For details click here.

25th November: The second workshop will focus on improving the mobility of the shoulders and hips, through restorative yoga and static stretches.
For details click here.

 

This article is written by our head teacher Priyanjali Das. With focus on anatomy and mindfulness, her AtréYoga classes are welcoming and free of judgment & restrain. To know when she takes classes, click here to view the schedule.

 

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Surya Namaskara: Salutations to the Sun

You might have heard the story of Hanuman and Surya who initially didn’t start off on a good foot with each other. When Hanuman was very young he confused the sun (Surya) with a big mango and had nearly eaten him if it wasn’t for Lord Indra’s intervention. Long story short, in the end Surya accepted Hanuman as a student, taught him about the ancient Vedas and released his student without demanding a fee. In return, Hanuman could only offer his gratitude and namaskars (respectful greetings). And so the Surya Namaskar series was born as Hanuman’s guru dakshina to Surya.

Historically and in many other cultures, humans have been worshipping the sun, the ultimate teacher, the one who illuminates the sky and shines light into our heart and soul.

The Benefits of Surya Namaskara
Surya namaskara is one of the most complete practices of hatha yoga. The primary intention of this series of poses is to awaken the energy of the sun that normally lies dormant at the navel centre. Surya namaskara allows us to reach deep into our solar plexus and awaken and circulate the sun’s healing power to restore a radiant body and cultivate a clear, calm, and tranquil mind. With a couple of cycles of the sun salutation (traditionally 12 rounds), regularly applied, you can reap many of its benefits for body and mind:

  • Stimulate agni or your digestive fire and may aid in weight loss
  • Energize the nervous system for more clarity and focus
  • Balance the endocrine system and improves moods and emotional stability
  • Harmonize the energy flow throughout the body connecting the lower and upper extremities

 

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Like other classic yoga asanas, the surya namaskara is a way to enter the subtle body, allowing us to tap into our innate healing powers, increase vitality, and accelerate the process of rejuvenation. To derive all these benefits, however, we must take the practice beyond stretching. The spiritual dimension of surya namaskara is much more profound and fulfilling than the physical level of practice alone. When both the physical and spiritual aspects are strung together, the practice becomes Sutra Yoga – the kind of practice intended by masters like Patanjali, the compiler of the Yoga Sutra. A Sutra Yoga style of the sun salutation strings together (sutra) body, breath, mind, and soul with the healing and nurturing forces of the sun, and infuses life with serenity and inner awakening. In this way, the sun salutation becomes a complete practice of yoga, meditation, and spirituality.

This article is written by our in-house teacher Gwendolyn Wregar who has been practicing different styles of yoga on and off the mat for the last 10 years.
With her background in natural health and massage therapy she finds that yoga is a wonderful way of looking after one’s health and well-being. One of Gwen’s goals is to encourage others to find more balance in their lives, to feel more fulfilled and connected to themselves and the world around.

Join Gwen for an invigorating morning class and indulge in the glorious benefits of the Sun Salutations.

Weekdays:
Wednesdays & Friday morning: 7 – 8 am & 8 – 9 am
Thursday evening: 6-7 pm & 7-8 pm

Weekends: 8:30 – 10 am

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It takes two to yoga – first book by Zubin Atré!

Book Launch “It takes two to yoga”

It was launched at the charming Devang house cafe at Ashok hotel in Delhi this August, followed by a lively discussion on how the idea of writing a book fully dedicated to Partner yoga appeared and evolved, and what are the main aspects of practicing yoga with a partner. As a quintessence of the evening, the guests enjoyed a breathtaking performance by Sonu and Shikha from India Got Talent, demonstrating the beauty and the challenges of a partner yoga. (See photos of the event below)

“We have been offering partner yoga classes quite regularly at the AtréYoga Studio in Delhi. It started almost for fun with the students who regularly come to class, then the demand for partner yoga increased and we conceived specialised workshops entirely dedicated to partner yoga sessions. However, the idea of writing the book did not exactly evolved over time; it rather surfaced up suddenly when my editor Dharini Bhaskar, raised the idea to condense my experience with partner yoga into a manual that could allow a wider public to benefit from this amazing practice” – explains Zubin Atré.

When two people meld, the impact and the experience of their practice deepens on account of touch.

It Takes Two to Yoga moves beyond individual yogic practice and embraces the essence of yoga a term that, in fact, means a ‘union’ or a ‘yoking together’. It considers asanas that two people can practice as one whether they are colleagues, couples, parents or friends to deepen the impact of postures.

After hand-holding readers through a series of preparatory poses, this book goes on to guide partners and couples through the minutiae of more than forty two-person postures among them, ‘butterfly arch’, where two bodies curve like the wings of a moth; ‘London bridge’, where two pairs of hands knot to form an overpass and ‘flying bow’, where one of two partners seems to levitate! Besides photographs, each posture comes with detailed practice instructions; The vision guiding the pose and how best to build awareness.

What makes It Takes Two to Yoga particularly special is its emphasis on touch. By focusing on this form of non-verbal communication, the book uses yoga as a tool to establish a connection that goes beyond the purely physical, rather, couples and partners, by practicing as one, come to embrace laughter, trust, compassion, forgiveness and an acceptance of each other’s limitations.

“It takes two to yoga” is now available in the bookstores across India, as well as on Amazon and Kindle (goo.gl/Xxl2El)

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