I never thought I would see a yoga train wreck like I saw the other day in class. I have been doing yoga daily for almost 50 years, and never has it made me laugh like this. So here’s what happened.
I happened to join a beginner yoga class (the only one I could make that day because of my schedule) and we were packed in like sardines. We get to the tree pose, you know, the one where you stand on one leg and have the other one crossed in front. This being a room filled with beginner yoga students, there was a lot of wobbling involved in the tree pose.
All of sudden… bam! One lady tilts left and hits her neighbor. Her neighbor immediately collapses into the person to the left of her, and so on, until about six people had crumpled to the floor in a giant human pretzel! We all laughed like crazy and got a better workout for our abs by laughing than we did during the whole rest of the class.
So if you ever get a chance to join a packed beginner yoga class, watch out for that tree pose… or at least be prepared to laugh your butt off when the whole thing implodes in on itself! Of course, all of this is just a way to make you smile, and a segue way into the topic of how to make your yoga practice easier and more effective.
3 Ways to Make Your Yoga Practice Easier and More Effective
Yoga is definitely a healthy practice but if you are just getting into it, or if you tend to run hot and cold in your practice, yoga can be downright painful. Stretching muscles, tendons, and ligaments that haven’t been stretched in a long time is painful… but it’s also good for you. Plus, done right, yoga doesn’t have to be painful, and it can help your body feel more at ease all the time. So here are 3 tips on how to make your yoga practice easier and more effective.
Yoga Tip #1: Do Yoga Often or Not At All
This may sound harsh, but it’s true. If you only do yoga once a week, the practice may be more painful than beneficial. Yoga’s true benefit to body, mind, and spirit occur, in my experience, when you practice yoga at least 3-4 times per week. Even if that means you have to scale down your practice to a very simple routine that you won’t mind doing on a regular basis, that’s OK.
One yoga master with whom I studied said not to bother with yoga unless you were going to practice it at least 3 times per week. At 3 times per week, he stated that your body would feel better. If you practice yoga 4 times per week, you begin to notice mental and meditation effects. At 5 or more times a week, yoga becomes a spiritual effort that also benefits body and mind, and the effects can be truly spectacular.
Find ways to keep yourself motivated to do yoga often. Some people follow a yoga DVD while others sign up for classes at the local recreation center. I know a couple of gals who live in different states but practice yoga at the same time each morning. They call each other before starting their routines to ensure that each one is up and ready to go. So do what you need to do to stay motivated… find a buddy, find a sado-masochistic teacher, whatever. Just get it done, or why bother with a yoga practice?
Yoga Tip #2: Feed and Treat Your Body Right
The practice of yoga is made much easier when you feed your body ingredients that allow your tendons, ligaments, and muscles to stretch more easily. Antioxidants and enzymes are excellent supplements to add to your daily regimen if you are serious about improving your flexibility. Good antioxidant sources include:
– wheat sprouts
– coenzyme Q10
– mangosteen juice
– adult stem cell enhancers
All of these support your body’s ability to stretch without damage. It’s so easy to tear muscles and ligaments if you get too enthusiastic about yoga but are not treating your body right.
If you have a particularly tight area in your body, consider doing castor oil packs on that area. For instance, I have always had problems with yoga poses that involve the knees because I damaged my knees during my ballet career. I do regular castor oil packs on my knees to keep them limber and flexible, which helps with poses like the Hero, Lotus, and Camel.
Yoga Tip #3: Practice as Early in the Day as Possible
This is a tip I picked up from a particularly good yoga instructor I studied with in Boulder, Colorado. She told us that our bodies were less flexible early in the day, and that by doing our yoga practice early, we got more benefit than if we practiced later in the day. Of course, being that we are less flexible in the morning, doing a yoga routine is more difficult so you have to be more careful not to push too hard. You don’t want to tear anything by pushing too hard.
One way to work your way toward doing a yoga practice early in the day is to start with an evening yoga practice. During the evening, your body is looser because you have been moving around all day. Gradually, over a number of months, see if you can move the time of your yoga practice so that it becomes earlier and earlier. Alternatively, if you want to start with an early morning yoga practice, you can decrease the difficulty of your routine in the beginning. Slowly increase the difficulty as your body becomes more flexible.