Posted in My Flat Tummy Bible, Range Of Motion, Stretching Like A Pro, Yoga For Balance And Posture

Ashtanga Yoga

What is Ashtanga Yoga?

A system of Hatha Yoga that is used by many Yogis and studios around the world, this style was created from the interpretations of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya.   This is a vigorous, athletic type of Yoga and will appeal to anyone who enjoys a more structured Yoga session and who also likes the concept of an independent practice. 

The Ashtanga system puts an emphasis on daily Vinyasa flow practice using the Yoga Bandhas, or Locks, as they are more commonly called, Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Banda; Ujjayi Breathing or hissing breath,  and Drishti or focused gaze. 

The Poses

There are three groups, with a total of six levels of poses that comprise the Ashtanga sessions: 

Yoga Chikitsa is the primary series, which is practiced and learned first.  The name refers to Yoga therapy as it contributes to the health of the spine, helps the body release toxins, and increases flexibility, muscle tone and endurance.  There are approximately 75 poses in primary, and each session takes one and a half to two hours to complete.  The series begins with Sun Salutations, then continues on with standing poses, seated poses, inversions, backbends, and finally relaxation. 

Nadi Shodana is the intermediate set of asanas, and this name refers to the ability of the postures to purify the central nervous system.  This cleansing process strengthens the entire body and affects all bodily functions by modifying the primary series of poses, with the option of adding more.  Nadi Shodana is only  introduced when Yogis are very strong practicing the primary level. 

Sthira Bhaga, is the most advanced level of Ashtanga Yoga.  There are four intensive sets of poses, which put the emphasis on the most difficult type of arm balances.  This is an extremely difficult form of Yoga that only a few will ever be comfortable performing. 

The Classes

Studios offer instructor-led Ashtanga classes as a way to teach students about this type of Yoga and acquaint them with the beginner level, Yoga Chikitsa ,series.  The goal is to familiarize the students with the first series and assist them to the point that they can practice on their own.   Self-led, or Mysore, sessions are the ultimate aim of Ashtanga, though some classes will be offered to students who wish to perform the series independently, but are in the same room as other students and have an instructor nearby to help if needed. 

For this reason, Ashtana Yoga is ideal for the individual who prefers to practice at home.  The series of asanas can be learned on video by most anyone with a moderate skill level or higher. 

Posted in Easy Exercise Moves, Range Of Motion, Stretching Like A Pro, Warm Up Cool Down

Increase Your Resistance Capacity

What This Means

If you’ve never done isometric exercises such as Yoga Asanas, you may be in for a surprise.  They are simple to perform, yes.  They are easy to execute and hold – NO.

When you have a personal fitness program that emphasis a great deal of isotonic exercise, you may indeed have increased your endurance level and can stay on that elliptical or treadmill for extended periods of time.  However, when you broaden your scope and venture into the isometric arena, it may well be that you need to start from square one and condition your body accordingly.  In other words, when comparing the two types of activity, isometric and isotonic, you are looking at an apples and oranges situation.

To give yourself an edge when it comes to moving forward with your Yoga practice, and gain wider range of motion and the type of strength that allows for longer hold times, begin to perform the following exercises every day.  In a few weeks, and the months thereafter, you will be pleasantly surprised at the benefits you’ve received from them.

Exercises To Help Increase Your Resistance Capacity

Upper Body

  • From Lotus Pose, raise your right arm straight up, fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds, then lower to chest level, arm still straight out, fingers pointing forward.
  • Hold for another 10 seconds. Release the right arm, and perform with the left. Hold this for the same amount of time.
  • Now perform this exercise with both arms at once. Same hold time.
  • Do this 5 to 10 times per day, for at least 10 seconds each time. Increase the length of time you can hold this position each week.

Lower Body

You’ll need to be near a wall or close to a sturdy table or bed post. Stand about a foot to eighteen inches from the wall, or wherever you are placed, and place your left hand on it.

  • Press your palm, flat, to the wall. Raise your right leg about 1 foot off the floor, bending the knee slightly.
  • Hold for as long as you can – 10 seconds or more is fine to start. Release your right leg to the floor, and repeat with the left leg.
  • Do this 5 to 10 times per day to increase strength, adding more time to the hold as weeks go by.

Practicing these simple moves each day can greatly improve your experience with Yoga all the way around. Your ability to achieve and maintain poses will improve, as well as your balance, posture, and mental focus.

And as a wonderful bonus, you’ll be showing up with additional grace and poise to your dance, martial arts, and aerobics classes, and mastering sports such as billiards and archery will be much easier as well.

IMAGE

Me, at age 58.  My sweet husband snapped this photo while we were at the Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl.  2015

NANCY WELKER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE “LOOK GREAT FOR LIFE SERIES”
Simple methods.
Spectacular results.