A Deep Dive into Your Yoga Practice

by Alexandria Barker

As a practicing yogi or yogini, you know how good you feel after a yoga class, and how yoga connects your breath, body and mind to bring a sense of wellbeing. You’ve no doubt noticed how, overall, it helps you overcome stress and how it brings more energy, improved stamina, and improved posture, circulation, as well as improved concentration and increased control over emotions.
Today I’d like to dig a little deeper, because knowing the advantages you reap from specific poses may inspire you to really work the pose, or at least explain why your instructor keeps coming back to them!

Downward Dog

I do this classic pose in virtually every class I teach, because it stretches your spine, hamstrings, glutes, and calves while strengthening deltoids and triceps and increasing circulation. If it’s difficult for you, you can perform the pose with your elbows on the ground (Dolphin pose) and receive many of these same benefits:

Build bone density. Because it puts weight on the arms and shoulders it builds upper body strength and bone density

- Revive. It’s one of the best poses to do when you’re tired

- Eliminate stiffness and back pain. It makes shoulders and upper back more flexible and less likely to store tension.

- Boost circulation. Any pose where the heart is above the head is good for the circulatory system because it encourages blood flow throughout the body. This in turn helps flush toxins from your body, keeps your immune system in good shape, and helps regulate blood pressure.

Learn Downward Dog

Begin on all fours with your feet and knees hip-width apart, hands shoulder-width apart and fingers spread wide. Press through your hands, lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs as much as you can. Squeeze your thighs as you press them toward the back wall. Press heels toward the floor. Relax your head and neck, let your shoulder blades slide down your back toward your feet. Breathe deeply. Hold for at least one minute.

Triangle Pose Trikonasana

I also include this gentle twist pose in virtually all my classes – here’s why. Triangle pose keeps your back strong and supple, helping you avoid arthritis and osteoporosis, and is a great detoxer for your internal organs. When practicing at home, try it with your back against a wall to aid balance and body alignment.

• Strengthens your abs, knees, ankles, back and legs.
• Stretches legs, muscles around the knee, ankle joints, hips, hamstrings, groin muscles, shoulders, chest and spine
• Stimulates function of abdominal organs (improves digestion and constipation)
• Relieves stress. Used therapeutically for anxiety, infertility, neck pain and sciatica
• Helps to alleviate back pain and symptoms of menopause

Basic triangle pose:

• Start in mountain pose, then step one leg out to the side until feet are three to four feet apart, toes facing forward. Raise your arms so that they are parallel to the floor, stabilizing you
• Turn your left foot slightly to the right and turn your right foot 90 degrees, so that it faces directly right. Turn your right thigh out and make sure your right kneecap is aligned directly toward the center of your right ankle.
• Exhale and bend your torso at the hip to the right, reaching down with your right hand to rest it on your right toes (or ankle) to balance yourself
• Focus on opening up your torso to the front and stabilizing your body by firming your leg muscles and pushing your heels into the floor
• Inhale and exhale slowly and hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Straighten back to mountain pose and repeat, this time leaning over the left leg.
• Once you are stabilized, reach your left arm up to the sky and gaze up at your left hand

I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into downward dog and triangle! For more helpful yoga articles please visit www.AlexandriaBarker.com Namaste!

I invite you to join us for Your Yoga held each Tuesday 9:30 – 10:30 at East Minister United Church in Belleville, Ont, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Brighton Wednesdays 4:00 – 5:00 or Mon 5:30 – 6:30 at the Brighton Family Resource Centre Call Alexandria @ 613-475-3867 for details!

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