Make your asanas practice more comfortable and effective
Maharshi Patanjali, compiler of the Yoga Sutras, wrote in the verse 2.46: “Sthira Sukham Asanam” : A Yoga posture must be steady and comfortable.
But the reality is many times we are far from being comfortable on the mat. How can we improve that? A great part of the problem is that many Yoga postures involve a big dose of stretching, some of them quite intense. So, which are the rules we should follow when we are stretching our muscles? The Spanish website specialized in Physioterapy, Fisioterapia Online, throws light on this topic in one of its videos. We have summarized below the main points but the video it’s completely worth to watch.
Intensity: Don’t start hard. Start with a lighter intensity. Then, as the muscle “gets confident”, you can increase it smoothly and progressively throughout the stretch.
Duration: If your goal is just to relax the muscle, a short duration is perfectly fine. However, if your target is to modify the structure of the muscle and make it longer, you must hold the stretch for a longer time (around 5 minutes or more)
Frequency: There is no problem in stretching several times a day, if done correctly. Some good timings are morning after wake up and evening before going to sleep.
Compensation: Avoid “cheating”. When we stretch, one part must remain fixed and the other tip will be elongated, otherwise we are just transferring length from one side to another, losing effectiveness.
Breathing: Breathing awareness is key. Most of the muscles reduce their tone with the exhalation. Taking advantage of this we can stretch better.
Before or after other exercise/ sports: If it is a regular strecth to relax the muscle, it doesn’t matter. But if it is a deeper stretch with the goal of modifying the muscle structure, then to prevent injury it should be performed always after. This is because the brain needs some adaptation to the new muscle length after the stretch.
Which muscles?: Phasic muscles (those that are opossed to strong tonic muscles) normally need to be toned more than stretched, to reduce unbalances.
As we say, the video explains clearly and in detail all these points. Since the video is in Spanish, we have introduced subtitles. Don’t miss it!