The Secret To A Perfect Yoga Pose
01 August 2016
Controlling your mind and doing what your body is asking you to do requires a great deal of self-knowledge and awareness.
Yoga postures can sometimes seem daunting and painful to onlookers and complete beginners. Some people even feel intermediated in group classes by watching other 'more experienced' practitioners bust some crazy Yoga moves. But just like most things, there are techniques that anyone can learn in order to achieve a perfectly balanced and aligned Yoga posture.
It will take time, patience and commitment on your part, but if you are determined enough, there is no posture that you can't at least begin to do.
Read our secret tips below that will help you get into perfect alignment in a Yoga pose without feeling pain and agony:
Show up to class
60% of the work is done when you simply show up. Most of the work after that, is in the hands of the teacher. All you then have to do is keep turning up on a regular basis (however many times you decide per week) and surrender to the teachers instructions.
Follow the instructions mindfully and try to do as best as you can. Forget about all the chores, to do lists, people, issues, dilemma and just follow your teacher. Leave the outside world 'outside' and be fully present in the class.
Synchronised and rhythmic breathing
Yoga is like dance, we practice postures in a rhythm. The rhythm is determined by the breath. Our breath serves as the music during a Yoga practice. Every movement in the body is synrcronised with the breath. In order to perform a posture perfectly, you have to synchronise and move your body in a way that allows the breath to flow easily and rhythmically.
For example, when you lift your arms up, you breathe in, when you put them back down, you breathe out. This is the simplest movement that shows that breath and movement are co-dependent in Yoga. The same principles apply for even the advance postures. Breathing in and out at correct times, makes the practice fluid and easy. Even the hardest postures can be achieved with ease if the breathing cycle in correct.
Three steps to a perfect pose
It is very common to see Yoga practitioners getting into the final form of a posture without being mindful or graceful. Especially, students who are relatively new, try to copy their fellow practitioners and get into a posture without being aware of their physical limitations. Imitating other students without being aware of your body's strengths and weaknesses can be harmful. It is important to talk to the teacher and follow their instructions carefully.
In my experience, Yogis at any level of Yoga (beginners or advanced) should follow these three steps in order to practice the full posture with easy and without causing any injury:
1. Stage 1 (Preparation) - This is the position that a Yogi can do without any pull our push. It is the starting point that sets a foundation for the final posture. Getting into this position, prepares the Yogi mentally and physically. Taking one or two breaths in Stage 1 of the posture, releases tension from the muscles and wakes the body up.
2. Stage 2 (Rhythm and Synchronicity) - This is when you start to synchronise your movement with the breath and start to go deeper in the posture. With each exhale, you release the tension more and more, helping you go deeper into the pose. As you inhale, you gather new energy and as you exhale, you surrender and let go. It may be only a very small movement from Stage 1 but it will be extremely important to progress further.
3. Stage 3 (Retention) - This is the highest level to which you are able to safely perform the pose and stay in it for at least five breaths (or one minute). This is where you allow your body to relax in the pose whilst working all the muscles involved. It is the deepest position that your body can be in without causing strain to joints, muscles or nerves. The whole aim of Yoga is to be able to hold a position for a certain length of time. Retaining a pose helps increase focus, strength and achieve physiological and psychological benefits of the pose to its full extent.
Power of patience and persistence
Yoga is an art form and like all other art forms, it requires patience and persistence. The key to a safe Yoga practice is to mind your own business. Never compare your practice to anyone else's. Nobody is alike and nobody has the same level of experience and understanding. Be patient and do not compare yourself to anyone else in the class. With patience and persistence, you are likely to progress faster and further.
Don't be a fool, be mindful
It is important to listen to your body and it is important to encourage yourself to do the best you can. However, don't over do anything and don't be lazy and cheat yourself by not doing what you are capable of doing.
Just as it is important to push yourself, it is also important to realise your physical limitations. Especially, if you have a medical condition or if any part of the body feels worse and painful in a certain pose, then stop immediately. If in doubt, come out of the pose.
Be mindful of your limitations and only do what feels okay to do. Yoga is also about learning to listen to your body. Controlling your mind and doing what your body is asking you to do requires a great deal of self-knowledge and awareness. So be mindful and do what serves your practice.
These tips will help you ease into your Yoga practice. They will hopefully, provide you with a different perspective in how to approach a posture and have a safe and fun Yoga practice. It is easy to get carried away, specially when you practice in a group, but remember that Yoga is not a competition and everyone is on their own journey, so it is important to follow your own instincts and do the best you can.