We’ve all heard it before, ‘warm up before you workout’ but there’s more to this statement. As you build warmth in the body this heat moves deeper into the muscles and core allowing deeper stretches and wider range of motion. It will also give your practice that extra ‘umph,’ burn more calories, gain more muscle tone and move you closer to the goals your working to achieve. Warmth during winter will also help chase away the blues. Why not work a little deeper to gain more faster?
One assist for holding and deepening a pose, stretch, or stance is using your breath as both a physical movement and a distraction from over-focusing on the physicality. One style of breathing often heard in yoga classes is Ujjayi breath. Breathing slowly through your nose, slightly constricting the back of your throat, you will hear the sound vibrate and begin to heat the body. Let the sound and warming temperature can be an anchor into your body. As far as I know, this is the only type of breath that both warms the body and cools the parasympathetic nervous system turning off your “fight, flight, or freeze response” allowing your body to continue deeper into your practice.
One of the poses that I enjoy holding until the last second is plank with the feet in our Harrison Hammock. It’s a physical and mental challenge. You can feel the resistance in your tricepts keeping your shoulders over your palms as they press up and away from the floor. You can feel your core tightening, centering and lengthening down and up your spine. If you maintain this length in the spine the extra space can assist in lengthening the legs and neck as well giving you longer and leaner muscles rather than clenching to stay in one place. The more you lengthen from your center reaching out the less work and fatigue you will feel, thereby allowing you to hold the pose longer… win, win! At the last second you realize you have that extra little lift up in the core to bring a knee to the floor and stretch out. This is such a great full body stabilizer and burner. You can try it out at home as well. Begin with 30 seconds and build your time gradually. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can extend your time and abilities if you just DO IT!
You know your body. CHALLENGE YOURSELF! So, if you have access to a Harrison Hammock, wonderful! If not, joint us in class at Upper Limits Rock Gym! If you want to take your practice to the floor in the mean time do it!