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You Don’t Need To Be A Pretzel

“I can’t do yoga because my body just won’t bend that way.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard some version of that statement . . .

According to T.K.V. Desikachar, “Anybody can breathe; therefore anybody can practice yoga.” In other words, we can all do yoga no matter our age, physical ability or experience level.  There are many ways to practice yoga asanas a/k/a postures or poses. Your goal in any asana is to be alert/ stable/ present (Sthira) and relaxed/comfortable/without pain (Sukha) whether you’re doing a shoulder stand or seated breathing.  And, if the pose doesn’t allow you to be these things, then the pose needs to be modified to fit you. You do not need to be modified to fit the pose. This concept is fundamental to the tradition of yoga known as Viniyoga because every body is unique.

Generally speaking, there are three major purposes of asana. First, it helps with structural stability by increasing strength, flexibility, skeletal alignment, and mechanical freedom. Next, it helps physiologically by improving balance, overcoming chronic disease and strengthening various systems. Finally, asana helps emotionally by reducing stress, increasing self confidence and increasing tolerance. There are many ways to modify poses so each and every individual can experience all of these benefits.

For example, in the Viniyoga tradition, movement into a standing forward bend (Uttanasana) originates with the exhalation and requires contraction of the abdomen during exhale. Viniyoga teaches that the primary intention of forward bends is to stretch the low back and sacral areas. Due to tight muscles and structural issues, many people need to modify the forward bend by bending knees in order to round the back and maximize the stretch in their low backs without strain.  The important point is to maximize comfortably the stretch in the back, not to do a “classic” pose. Injuries can and will happen by forcing yourself into postures your body is not ready to do.

Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson

Founder/Owner at Yoga for Self

Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
Joanne Thompson

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