Advanced Yoga: Working Your Way to Challenging Poses
Yoga is a practice that has been enjoyed by many for hundreds of years. The stretches and poses are great for the mind, body and soul and the practice is something that anyone of any age can enjoy.
Since the practice is open to anyone who wants to benefit from yoga, there are varying levels. Beginner yoga is the starting point for everyone. Even athletes who are the best of the best should start at the beginning. The reason for this is that the poses need to be mastered before moving on to the more advanced yoga poses. Many very athletic and strong individuals may not stay at the beginning stages for long, but they will need to begin there until they are confident in their practice.
On the other end of the spectrum is an advanced yoga practice. Depending on how serious one is about their practice, their strength, and their abilities, it can take months to years to reach this level. The great thing about yoga, though, is everyone is at their own level and working where they are comfortable, but a bit of a challenge is highly encouraged. There is no need to rush through your practice just to be able to perform advanced yoga. Although many people are naturally strong, flexible, balanced, and determined, and have no trouble finding their way to the advanced level of their yoga practice with a little time.
In yoga, there are several categories of poses. These exercises begin in a beginner stage, typically move to a more challenging pose, and then the pose moves to the advanced stage. With yoga, you build your foundation first and foremost, and then you move to a place where you are challenged to build strength, balance, posture and focus.
Within the categories of the practice are a wide variety of poses that strengthen the body and the mind and offer the body a multitude of benefits. In order to work all areas of your body, you can work many different types of yoga poses. The different types include: arm balances, balancing poses, backbends, binds, bandha, chest openers, twists, core, strength, standing poses, sitting poses, laying poses, hip openers, forward bends, restorative and inversion options. These are not stand alone categories as many of the poses benefit the body in many different ways and fall into more than one category.
As you practice yoga, you should first begin by finding a qualified instructor and join a class. If you don’t have time for a class or the schedule isn’t working for you, consider hiring a personal trainer who is trained in yoga. You can even consider purchasing a book or watching videos. Just make sure that you are aware of your body’s alignment at each and every angle. While yoga does offer many benefits, you won’t reap the full benefits and you may even injure yourself if you are not doing the poses correctly.
Within your practice, you should decide what you want to focus on. If you are taking a particular class or have joined a yoga studio, they will likely help guide you to this point, but if you haven’t, you will want to decide what is right for you. Based on the categories listed above, you should choose at least one area. For instance, if you want to work on strength, perform the poses with a focus on getting stronger. Remember, though, while working on strength, you will also be improving your balance, determination, focus and more. But by choosing a focus, you are able to adequately work the poses in a way that is most beneficial to your body.
Another option is to try all of the poses just to learn about them. As you begin, you may want to feel what each pose feels like. The great thing about this is, you are getting full mind and body benefits, plus you are learning to hold each pose in the most beneficial way. As you start practicing yoga, you will need to decide which route you want to take. You may even choose to take a combination of a focused route and one where you work on all poses. Before each practice, however, have a loose idea of what poses you want to do if you are not following an instructor. With yoga, there is no wrong way to flow, or move from pose to pose. However, if you are looking for specific benefits, you can consider the flow to help you get to the point you want to be at.
After beginning your practice, chances are you will immediately begin feeling the benefits. The benefits are not only physical, but they are mental, too. Your body is becoming a stronger, more balanced machine. Also, your mind will become more focused and clearer if you are taking your practice seriously.
Depending on how you practice, whether on your own or with an instructor, you can move at your own pace. For instance, if you are in a beginner class, but have been practicing for a while and are ready for a challenge, discuss this with your instructor before your class. He or she may be able to show you modifications of poses so you can begin to challenge yourself and move to the next level of your yoga practice. Some yoga instructors will automatically offer modifications since everyone is at their own level and may be ready for something a little more difficult.
As you feel more and more comfortable in your yoga practice, start challenging yourself more and more. You want to be able to hold a pose in a more advanced yoga position, and you may even fall out of it. When you do fall out, it only shows that you are working to become stronger, more balanced, and more focused. This is a little more difficult if you are on your own, but it can be done. If you have a yoga partner who is at a higher level than you, discuss your advancement with them. They will be able to show you how to move up with each and every pose.
One thing that many people really like about advanced yoga is the arm balance and inversion poses. It is a lot of fun to be able to hold your entire body up with your arms in various poses. Again, you will work towards this with your practice. If this is a goal of yours, either discuss it with your instructor or look for tips to help you get to where you want to be. Also, inversions are really exciting, too. This is where you are able to hold yourself in a variety of handstand positions.
When you are ready to begin the more advanced poses of yoga, it is helpful to have someone with you that understands these poses. They can help guide you in the proper positions and work with you so you are safe while doing these poses. Not only that, but they can also offer their support and advice since these poses aren’t necessarily easy.
If you are unable to have a yoga buddy, you can still work your way up to being able to hold inversions and arm balance poses. Before you do, however, you should learn as much as you can about these poses. Just like all the other yoga poses, it is crucial to hold them the right way so you can avoid injury. With an injury, it can take a lot of time to heal and really hinder your practice.
Whether you are working along on your advanced poses or you are working with a friend, you can use props to help you with these poses. You don’t want to rely on them, but at first it can make it much easier to learn how holding the pose feels and help you build your strength. For example, as you work to hold your inversions, using the wall can be very helpful. As you learn to hold the pose with support, you will see how it feels and eventually be able to hold it with less and less support until the only support you need is your own strength.
Yoga is an amazing practice that will help you grow your mind, body, and soul in many different ways. No matter what level you are at, you should always be proud of your effort and work to improve yourself so you can move to the next level like trying yoga with weights. Within the practice, you can work alone with guidance, but make sure to properly hold each pose. Or you can work with an instructor that can teach you how to hold the poses properly. Also, you can choose to focus on one category of poses or do them all for a balanced approach. Making your practice meaningful is the most important aspect of yoga and you should always be working to improve your mind, body, and soul and working to make yourself stronger and more focused.