By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 500
Hatha is a general term used to describe a wide range of yoga styles. Its name is derived from two words meaning ‘sun’ and ‘moon’, representing the balanced union of two opposites. Hatha yoga classes usually include a mixture of gentle stretches, controlled breathing, and meditation. Although poses are designed to integrate the mind and body, movements can target specific areas.
Hatha postures are effective for toning the arms and can often be done by people who have limited flexibility. The upper body can be exercised from both seated and standing postures, and the degree of difficulty can be adapted to suit individual needs or skills. Toning the arms can be a goal in itself, or it can build strength in preparation for challenging yoga postures.
Arm poses should always start with light stretches order to open the chest area, warm up the muscles, and release tension. Equipment – such as blocks or bands – may be used for support, especially for beginners. A few of the postures that stretch the neck and shoulders are the following:
• Neck shrugs
• Eagle pose
• Sun salutations
• Elbow stretch
• Shoulder stretches
• Threading the needle
• Cobbler’s pose
Weight-bearing poses that focus on the upper body aid in strengthening and toning the arms and shoulders. Chairs can be used to modify yoga poses, if needed. These postures range in complexity and should be approached gradually:
• Cobra pose
• Plank pose
• Upward facing dog
• Downward facing dog
• Supported headstand
• Supported handstand
Although there is always overlap between poses, there are specific postures that help to create balance and coordination in the arms and upper body:
• Plank pose
• Elbow balance pose
• Dolphin plank pose
• Side plank pose
• Limbed staff pose
• Extended hand-to-big-toe pose
While Hatha yoga is useful for toning the arms, its benefits are best realized when these poses are part of an entire practice. Combined with meditation and breathing, the development of upper body strength provides the stamina and coordination needed for challenging poses.
Finally, let’s not confuse any form of yoga with other exercise systems. Yoga is not merely an exercise system. Although Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power yoga will tone one’s body, these systems were designed for the health of the entire body and mind. Every exercise system borrows methods from yoga, but none of them is a complete maintenance system for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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