Many individuals laugh at the very thought of practicing yoga; it can be seen as a 'soft' discipline by those who are unaware of the potential the postures have for strengthening their muscles. It is always good to remember that a healthy body will help to produce a healthy mental state. As I have mentioned in previous posts it is important to remember that this is not the only part of yoga and it is beneficial to learn about the spiritual aspects of the discipline.
Since I began recently (in the last month or so) taking yoga much more seriously I can see that my strength, stamina and general well being have greatly increased. I can now do several poses I only dreamed of previously and I can balance for far longer than I have ever been able to. In only a month!
Lets look at yesterday's yoga practice. Once the teacher explained that we were about to do our 'challenge pose' I was wondering how far I could get. Frequently these poses tell me where I am and what needs work. The teacher usually shares at least one challenging pose that requires some practice before mastery. That is probably the main reason our teacher shares these with us; although that is just my assumption. The challenge pose shows some students that they are further than they first thought they were and shows other students what they can work up to with gentle persistence and dedication. The cool thing also is that it brings a bit of laughter as many of us think... Hmmm can I really do that? Then we enjoy trying it! Sometimes we are caught in some laughter as we try and have a small break from the seriousness of the practice.
In comes Astavakasana (dont ask me how to pronounce this) or the Eight - Angle Pose! Surely you have seen it! Here is a description from Yoga Journal on the pose and how they propose you do it.
I was shocked to find that with all the gentle exercises I have been practicing that I am now able to get my knee right the way above the back of my shoulder on each side! Now that I am doing my research I am finding that our teacher carefully works our bodies and chooses different poses to strengthen and stretch certain muscles.
So if you would like to build up to a pose you can do some online research or look to your books to see which simple exercises will slowly tone your body so that you can do the poses you have been looking at in awe. We can all train our bodies!
In order to achieve the eight - angle pose you need to practice the following poses suggested in this Yoga Journal article (check them out) I really enjoy all the information that site provides!
Here are the poses that will build you up to the Eight Angle pose and provide you with strength that will benefit other areas of your practice too:
- Marichyasana I (Marichi's Pose)
- Paripurna and Ardha Navasana (Full and Half Boat Pose)
- Jatara Parivartanasana (Stomach-Revolving Pose).
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
- Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Downward-Facing Tree, a.k.a Handstand)
- Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)
- Lolasana (Pendant Pose)
- Eka Hasta Bhujasana (One Hand Arm Pose)
The truth is that many of these poses are difficult within themselves. This is why it is important to have a daily practice and have some form of goals although the point is not to focus on those goals but to gradually progress through your practice.
I am going to work on my upper body strength! Many of the poses I would like to work on involve a great deal of upper body strength! So after I publish and share this I will be practicing: plank, dolphin, dolphin plank, and the boat... One day I will be able to do handstands with ease and one day I will get to the Scorpion! You will see them happen!
I wish you the best in your practice. Don't forget the importance of breathing exercises and a relaxation before and after your practice to deepen the effects and let your energy flow.