That's a Downward Dog pose by the way. These days you are likely to find athletes of all kinds at your local yoga studio. Professionals, weekend warriors, and even elite athletes, such as Lebron James, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, recognize the benefits of a consistent yoga practice. Increased body awareness, injury prevention, stress reduction, and mental clarity are just a few of the many possible advantages of finding a yoga practice that is right for you.
According to Ray Long, MD, FRCSC, author of The Key Muscles of Yoga, to optimize one's yoga practice it is beneficial to incorporate knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Through analyzing the position of the body in a given posture and applying knowledge of the muscle action required to perform the pose, athletes can consciously break through blockages in their yoga practice.
The next time you find yourself at your mat, give this exercise a try. Instead of simply going through the motions when entering into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) think of each muscle, or muscle group, and the role it is playing as you move into the pose:
- flex the front knee, feel the muscles of the knee engage to give you balance
- flex the front hip, recruit the large muscles of the front leg as agonists
- extend the back hip, use the gluteus maximus and hamstrings as antagonists
- rotate the back foot internally, feel the tension of inversion
- extend the torso, use the large muscles of the back to open the chest and breathe
- abduct the arms, feel the weight of the arms being steadied by the many small muscles of the shoulders
- rotate the forearms internally, from the elbow only as the shoulders remain fixed
- rotate the neck and head towards the front knee, release any tension in the trapezius and dorsal neck muscles
In actively thinking about the ligaments, tendons, and muscles required to move through your yoga postures, the flow of energy in the body can be restored, creating balance, and resulting in fewer injuries. To learn more, check out the full summary of Ray Long's The Key Muscles of Yoga in this month's edition of The fit knowts Periodical. Subscribe below to receive your FREE copy!