If you teach or work in a yoga school, it may be hard to believe that some people only want physical benefits from one’s practice. Yet, the public seems to only know that Hatha yoga training is often mentioned as a system to bring one’s physical body into balance. Obviously yoga is much more than a physical exercise, but systems, such as Pilates have sprouted to address the needs of athletes who didn’t have a desire for the mental, spiritual, or emotional benefits of yoga. Competitive athletes are certainly the more likely candidates to injure muscles and joints, but anyone can receive an injury.
Injuries and Muscular Imbalance
Muscle injury, if severe enough, can result in something called muscular imbalance. Muscular imbalance occurs if there is a disruption of the normal amounts of opposing force between muscles. If a muscle is injured, weakened, or over developed, the opposing muscles will try to compensate for different directions of natural movement and tension. Limping is one example of movement that can result in a muscular imbalance. When this happens it can put too much strain on the joint between the opposing muscles, as well as cause the uninjured muscles to overcompensate, causing over development.
Strong muscles are shorter in length. During an imbalance it is important to stretch the strong muscle, to lengthen them, and to carefully strengthen the weaker or injured muscle. A good example of this is bicep curls. The bicep will contract and shorten as the arm is bent at the elbow, bringing the weight towards the chest or facial region. The triceps muscle then will relax. The triceps shortens and contracts as the arm is brought back to a straight position, but for optimal muscular balance, the triceps should also be exercised with weights, with specific exercises for the triceps.
Advice for New Students
Hatha yoga provides movements and postures, also known as asanas, which will not overemphasize one muscle over another. People who practice yoga become aware of their own bodies strengths and weaknesses. This awareness will make it easier to detect injuries before they become severe. People of any age group can take up yoga. There is a focus on multiple muscle groups, improvement in flexibility, and a broader range of motion in joints for practitioners of yoga.
Yoga has various physical styles. Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, for example, can improve muscle tone – while it also strengthens the body and tones the abdominal region. Even though yoga has been practiced for over five thousand years, a doctor should always be consulted before new students begin any type of exercise program. The Hatha yoga method is well known by the general public and will introduce a student to asana practice, while teaching the deeply rewarding techniques for relaxation, meditation, and pranayama.
Whether you are an athlete, an executive, or just an everyday person, yoga training is essential for good posture and a healthy body to keep your muscles balanced and strong. Yoga could be the very thing needed to do just that, and the stress relief from different yogic practices will offer a whole new way of looking at the world around you.
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