Everyone scrolling though the plethora of images of beautiful bodies in the social media executing yoga poses can be excused from equating yoga with gravity defying, circus acts. But are we joining the circus when we commit to yoga practice?
Surely, who doesn’t want an aesthetically appealing body and be able to watch the awesome expressions on the faces of friends, family and (even) strangers when one bends backwards into a full wheel position and (hold it) come back up again? The vibes of “awe” that emanate from peers, family and the millions of instagramers are irresistible.
There is certainly nothing wrong with setting a “goal” for our yoga practice but before we do this, we need to understand that unlike other cultures where yoga is practiced from the cradle, people in the western world only adopt yoga after our skeletal structures have already been determined. This means that there can be poses for one can never execute to perfection due to skeletal limitations. Forcing your body into such poses will cause permanent injuries.
Let’s not forget what yoga really means:
“Physical yoga or Hatha yoga was primarily designed to facilitate the real practice of Yoga – to understand and gain complete mastery over the mind. If you’re going to practice yoga, use your breadth and do it mindfully”.
So without the mind and control, what the body does is irrelevant.
Here are five tips on how to practise safely:
1. Focus on the breadth:
In yoga, the breadth is our guru: use it to guide you throughout your practice. By lengthening your exhalations, it sends a message to your brain allowing it to calm your entire being – best elixir for any nervousness and anxiety. Learning how to breathe in life is going to be a much bigger asset than learning how to stand on your head.
2. Accept your body:
We should always work with the limitations of our body and not against it. Never let your ego take over as it can cause serious injuries. Practice mindfully and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day – take baby steps towards achieving any goals.
3. Yoga isn’t a competition:
It is very common to see yogis and yoginis comparing themselves to others. When this happens, pause for a moment: turn your gaze inwards and check in with yourself ask yourself what brought you onto the mat in the very first place.
4. Be patient with your practice:
Patience is a virtue when it comes to your yoga practice. We learn a lot about ourselves through our daily practice and our bodies have a miraculous way of surprising us, when we least expect it. Be compassionate, kind and open – that’s when the magic happens.
5. Respect your level:
Regardless of how many years you’ve been practising. Honoring your bodies and being ok with where you’re at now, is a very important part of maturing in your yoga practice. It is ok to challenge yourself but understanding your limitations is just as important. There is no end to yoga poses: once we’ve mastered one, there’s another to one to learn – that is why we are forever students.
Like any physical exercise, injuries can happen in yoga.
What, then, does Yoga XTC do to place our client’s safety first?
1. Our yoga studio is mirror-free, allowing everyone to practise from within. No more distractions by people around you or reflections in the mirror, just let the mind and breath guide your body and focus on the here and now.
2. Heat, to a certain extent, can aid stretching and opens up the musculoskeletal structure for the body to get into postures easily. The danger here, however, is that high temperatures can cause injuries as well.
People tend to overstretch without knowing when the body becomes all supple and deceptively “flexible” in a hot room, especially when the mind is so focused on the heat. Sprains and injuries will only be felt 1 to 2 days after the practice.
We ensure that our hot flow temperature does not go beyond 35 degree Celsius to prevent any form of heat related injuries.
3. Techniques sessions and fitness assessment
Ever felt unsure of your poses and why some poses seem more difficult for you than others? We offer all our yoga members free 1:1 technique appraisal sessions and a free fitness assessment for the committed yogis.
Be compassionate to yourself and your body, think twice before turning yourself into a pretzel.