Are you one of the many people who struggle to do yoga? Do you struggle in doing even seemingly simple poses? We cannot deny, yoga could be quite the challenge to execute even the simplest of poses especially if you are not that flexible to begin with.
Before we begin with everything else, you have to keep in mind that not everything comes to everyone quickly. Some people might be a true natural when it comes to yoga and some are not and that is more than okay!
We firmly believe that there is nothing continuous practice cannot conquer. Just as how our yoga swings make it possible for you to fly, we will also help you in achieving your yoga visions and fitness goals.
In this blog, we will be talking about the best ways you can elevate your yoga practice and why doing yoga variations can help you ease more into the practice and even find the one exercise for you and your needs.
Let’s refresh your yoga knowledge…
According to Medical News Today, yoga can be defined as “a mind and body practice that can build strength and flexibility. It may also help manage pain and reduce stress. Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.”
From this, we can say that yoga is not just about physical fitness but also helps with your mental and overall wellness as well. Let’s not forget it has its spiritual roots and the benefits do not just end while you are on the mat but also beyond!
Aside from the asanas or poses, breathing techniques are also practiced in yoga. You don’t just sit there, do some poses, sweat, and you are all done — NO! Approaching it from this perspective may reduce the effectiveness of your session, which is not ideal. We will talk about breathing techniques more later on to ensure that you are optimizing your time on the mat.
Meditation has also been mentioned and we know that you might already be with us on this one. Meditation is probably one of the main focuses to the yoga practice. We can even say that the entire practice of yoga itself is one of meditation.
In yoga, meditation is one of the best things that you can do especially if you are experiencing, if not a lot, of emotional and internal turmoil that needs winding down. This will also help you in having better thinking and decision-making skills. We will tackle this further in the article.
Yoga is a practice that is believed to have originated in India and has been passed on from generation to generation through word of mouth and practice. Not only that we have been able to preserve the values and originality of the practice, but we have also come to develop modifications and improvements that further enhance the pedigree of yoga.
A few of these said modifications are yoga equipment such as ropes, blocks or wheels, and the one that we champion is the aerial hammock or yoga swing which is the equipment utilized in the modification of yoga known as aerial yoga or swing yoga. It is a piece of light and airy material that is at the same time durable and high quality.
As we have mentioned, if you are having a hard time getting into the practice of yoga, the yoga swing can be your best friend! It is a safe and effective way to ease into the practice without having the need to spend so much on different lessons and equipment, and you can definitely do it in the comforts of your own home, your own time, and your own pacing!
Aerial yoga also promotes its versatility in that regardless of the level of difficulty, there are aerial yoga poses that you can do! But first, let us get into how can you truly improve your yoga without the modifications.
Practice your Breathing Techniques
Breathing is a primary sources of our lives, and it is just as important to be practiced as well with the entire body. As we have said earlier, there are a lot of ways you can maximize the benefits and elevate your yoga practice and one of those is practicing your breathing techniques.
“Pranayama” or yogic breathing is one of the terms used to refer to this practice. In yoga, breathing is one of its best functionalities in the sense that patterned breathing regulates the amount of oxygen that reaches our brain, therefore, increasing function and activity. There are a lot of breathing techniques that you can try.
Among those are:
The Cooling Breath (Shiitali Kumbhaka)
This style of breathing, as the name itself suggests, is great for aiding an intense amount of emotions as well as a pattern for your cooldown session. It is light, effective, and easy to do.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
This one is already understood by the name itself. Alternate nostril breathing is when we breathe from the left to the right nostril in a pattern such as: inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left and vice versa, or inhaling and exhaling for a time with the right and doing the same on the left.
The Hissing Breath (Siitkhara Kumbhaka)
In this breathing technique, the “s-s-s” is proven to be calming and an effective way of releasing bad energy out of the body with ease and peace.
To do this, inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth by doing a hissing sound. Do this before or while you are executing poses. Similar to the cooling breath, this is also great for cool-down routines!
If you are much more interested in learning about yogic breathing and different breathing styles, we have a separate publication titled, “The Beauty of Yogic Breathing (plus Aerial Yoga)!” on our website.
Make it a Meditation
Meditating is a way for us to think, reflect, channel, focus, set and reset our mind and body especially if we have been through extended periods of stress and pressure.
To make your yoga journey easier, think of it as something that is not only for your physical body but for your mind as well.
Meditating, over the years, has been proven to be effective especially not only for people who are dealing with stress but also for those who want to start their days right or a way to wind down before going to bed. Meditating is effective for people who are extremely stressed because whenever we meditate, we give ourselves the chance to let go of needing to control everything, and allow the flow of life.
Often solutions will present themselves without being pressured which minimizes the risk of getting in your own way and making mistakes. Not only for current struggles, but you will also be able to foresee possible ones that you might encounter in the future all because you are thinking calmly.
Starting the day right is just as important as any other thing that you might think of. Although a lot of people may find it difficult, at least trying is enough. Before going about your day, spending a few minutes in silence, sitting or standing where natural light touches your skin, you can breathe freely, or even play some calm or upbeat music, which is already a form of meditation.
Add some yoga poses to that and you have truly have the recipe to elevate your yoga practice!
A lot of people tend to have difficulties with sleeping even when they have done so much for the day and even when it is already past midnight and the sleepiness has not kicked in yet. This could be another factor for stress because our body does not get enough rest before starting another day.
Meditation could be of great help to ease down our thoughts and slow down our brains and let them rest. Having a well-rested mind is important in powering through hectic schedules and life itself. You can also meditate while doing stretches that are great for inducing sleep because they provide this relaxing and pain-relieving effect. Not only that you are easing down your mind, but you are also making sure that your body follows as well.
Don’t Forget to do Warmups
Do not deny it, but if you have been working out for quite some time now or when you are just beginning, there are times when you skip warming up and just go about your scheduled workout for the day — we think we have all done that.
Yet, here at Gravotonics and with all the other fitness enthusiasts, we strongly advise against it. Not working out could cause shock to your muscles especially if you are about to do a strenuous workout or one that is new to you and you have just randomly decided to power through.
Despite yoga being a slow and controlled workout, warming up is still essential. Our practice definitely involves a lot of stretching and warming up can help reduce the stiffness in our muscles and joints and make the poses much more easier to execute.
A well-warmed-up body makes stretching and flexing easier. This also assures more stability and even greater endurance which you will need a lot in yoga.
Slow Down, Cool Down
Another important aspect that people tend to overlook is doing cool-downs. Oftentimes, we find ourselves too tired to even move especially after a challenging routine. Even so, we strongly advise you to push just a little more and do your cool down routine. Cool down routines are not to be ignored, no no!
According to the Mayo Clinic, cool down routines allow for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure meaning our bodies will have an easier winding down.
Cool downs are also done so as to avoid muscle cramps or aches, especially after working out. Even if we think that yoga itself feels like a cool down already, it is still important to do your scheduled cool down of the day. Your yoga routine is for your strength, flexibility and fitness, while the cool down is for recovery.
We have to keep in mind that even though a yoga session has been relaxing and restful, a cool down is still needed for further rest and to keep our bodies always ready for another go the next days.
Practice, Practice and Practice Even More!
And of course, the most important advice of them all is to practice, practice and practice even more! Just like in any other workout, it does not come to everyone easily and practice is always required. Remember that you do not get to your goals overnight.
It is normal to think how hard the workout is at first, particularly if you’re just getting started. You have to give your body the time it needs to adjust and keep up with the changes that you input into your lifestyle.
Trust us when we say that practicing is the main answer to your yoga or fitness woes because you really do not get fit and flexible after just one session. Sure, you feel as if you have never stretched or felt that light after the activity and you are already contented with it but we say no.
Continuous practice allows also for the continuous flow of new skills and knowledge about what you do. You have to keep punching in progress as much as you can, at your own pacing. You do not really need to be able to do a lot of asanas in just one flow, what’s important is that you take it day by day, consistently and willingly.
Do Additional Stretches
Do not let your practice end at the gym or the flow itself! As much as possible, make it a habit to do stretches every now and then so we can avoid stiff muscles and pains here and there.
The best times to do stretching aside from your scheduled time for exercising are after you wake up, light and slow stretches after a heavy meal, energizing stretches when you feel sleepy in the afternoon, and of course, before going to sleep.
We can also think of stretching as a way to massage our bodies by ourselves. This way, we will avoid getting aches and even minimize the days that we could miss in practice because our bodies are always ready nimble.
Elevate Your Yoga Practice
If you want to learn more or get more motivation on why you should keep on with your yoga journey, then you can head on to www.gravotonics.com to find a whole range of resources and even discover a fun and exciting modification of yoga: Aerial Yoga!
Aerial Yoga or more specifically Swing Yoga has its own range of additional benefits. It is especially good for beginners or the elderly because you have the support of the aerial equipment, which will allow you to do poses that may otherwise be to difficult, and this is even truer if you have mobility issues.
This is in our opinion the best way to elevate your yoga practice!