Pain is not a bad thing—the good pain of a safe stretch, that is. In fact, putting up with a bit of discomfort will increase your flexibility. You may be tempted to pull back from a stretch, especially in a pose you're not used to. But instead of coming out of the pose at the slightest hint of discomfort, bear with it. It's only by holding the pose that you'll coax your muscles to lengthen. You know from experience you'll feel better afterward, and the longer you hold the pose (safely, of course), the easier it will be next time.
There’s one thing you need to be careful of when you exercise, whether you practice aerobics, gymnastics, weightlifting, or a particular sport. And my friend, a martial arts expert, is no exception. She loves to practice Tae Kwon Do’s high kicks. Sometimes she’s lucky; she kicks high, it feels good, and it looks great. Trouble is, she’s so enthusiastic that she often hurts herself because she kicks higher than she can stretch. She throws her leg up, using the leg’s momentum to get it as high as possible.
People often ask me whether yoga can help them quit smoking. It can. Practice the asanas in fresh air, focusing on the breath. Pay special attention to pranayama, yoga’s breathing techniques. After all, for some, smoking is just the urge to breathe deeply, and you will with yoga!
Some yoga poses are easy for us; we like doing them and practice them regularly. Sometimes, however, we try a new pose that stretches muscles we don't often use or requires us to muster up strength. That's when our resistance kicks in.
Let's say you learned a new pose yesterday that was quite hard for you. When it comes time to do it today, you're reluctant. You know how stiff you were in that pose, how little movement you got, and it felt uncomfortable. So you're inclined to skip that one. But those are just the poses your body needs
Terrorist attacks in America have left many people anxious and fearful. They are experiencing emotions ranging from sadness and grief to anger and outrage. Life is full of stress and tension, much of it arising from the fear of future danger.
One way to get better at yoga asanas is to imagine it. While I'm not advocating pushing too hard, sometimes just imagining you can go further into a pose will get you there. It gives you the will to try just a little harder. For example, if you're doing Bow, visualize the beauty of the pose: the graceful arc formed by the arch of the back, the legs lifted high, feet moving back to open the chest. Then make your body into that shape—not violently or suddenly, but using your intelligence, your breath, and gradual movements from the inside to achieve the best pose possible.
Anger is not a pleasant emotion—in fact, it can destroy one's body and mind. Anger creates chemical changes in the body that can result in physical problems, especially if we stay angry for a long time. It increases blood pressure, can lead to heart disease, and also causes indigestion, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, listlessness, muscle spasms, and many other ailments.
Imagine that you are the driver of a chariot harnessed to five strong horses. What do you need to drive that chariot to your chosen destination? You need control over the horses. If the horses are unruly—if they stand on their hind legs, try to run in different directions, or refuse to obey your instructions—you’ll never reach your destination. What’s more, you run the risk of a serious accident, which could destroy or damage both the chariot and your own body.
An injury can put a damper on your asana practice, but don’t let it keep you from practicing altogether. Yoga has so many poses that it’s usually easy to find asanas that don’t affect the injured area. Some will even help heal it.
Want to make your asana session more enjoyable and more beneficial? Then relax as you practice. Whether you do yoga for exercise, to relieve stress, or both, you'll get more out of it if you relax. Don't stress about how stiff you are; don't strain to get into a pose. Just do your best and enjoy it. If you're always thinking about where you "should" be, you'll miss what's going on in your body at the moment. But that awareness is the key to practicing asanas correctly. So instead of worrying about how inflexible you are, just notice your tight spots.