This week's practice clearly demonstrated that I've been sick and my regular practice has been blunted. Flexibility in most of my joints was lacking (even with pregnancy), which just shows how being away from a yoga practice can actually impact flexibility gains and maintenance.
It is not surprising as basic fitness gains such as cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength in an exercise program can decline with even two weeks of no stimulus (read: bed rest). Not surprising that I felt this way this week.
What does the research say about yoga detraining?
Well, I found no definitive information other than this brief response on Yoga Journal's website addressing shoulder inflexibility in practice after many years away from practice.
So, I head into the flexibility research instead and find some interesting conclusions.
In one hamstring flexibility study, researchers noted that after four weeks of nonstretching, study participants lost the knee range of motion that they gained from stretching in the first six weeks of the study. They conclude that the benefits of stretching will be lost relatively quickly if stretching is not continued. But hesitate to give an exact duration of time.
Even at an acute or one time session, research notes that flexibility gains can be lost after about 90 minutes for most muscle groups. It makes sense as our bodies continue with the physical demands of day to day life, which can cause muscles to tighten once again.
Nonetheless, it seems that reduced flexibility and dare I say limited yoga practice can have some short and long term implications to how well your muscles will stretch.
An interesting point to take as a future teacher and a current student. It reinforces the importance of taking each session as it comes. The body can vary from day to day, practice to practice. The key here is to listen and practice to the best ability for that day.
Honoring my body's flexibility and health,
As I search for my own practice and work towards sharing yoga with others, it is interesting to hear what the journey looks like.
This video is a sample of two teachers' perspectives on how to do it from their points of view.
Sounds like a commitment that I won't be able to make in my current life situation. But it does give pause to the purpose and mission of my blog - continued learning. I try to explore all angles of yoga and I know I don't exactly have it mastered by any means but each week I learn at least one new thing.
If anything, this video has shown me that I've got to explore the lineages more as I quite frankly know nothing about them. It sounds like there are many and finding the right fit takes some time and reflection.
One step at a time. Isn't it about the journey anyway,
Do you hear it?
Do you feel it?
Your body is constantly telling you something and are you tapping in to it?
One of my favorite times during yoga practice is just that - when I'm listening to what my body is saying. It formally happens at the end during corpse pose/savasana but it can also appear during other parts of practice.
I wish I used my yoga skills this week. Need I say more, practice just didn't happen. And can I blame it on not listening? Well, maybe.
Cold and flu season is upon us and you guessed it, I caught one of those pesky colds. I won't bore you with the grotesque details. But here's how it unfolded...
My coworker said to me, "leave, go home. I'll finish up" as my throat felt like a welder's blow torch was burning down my throat.
My husband said to me, "go, lay down, go back to sleep. I'll deal with the cries of the nightmare-shaken toddler down the hall" as I drag myself back to bed and out of my momma bear shoes.
Did I listen to them or to my body?
Yes and no. But the result was I was hold up in bed (corpse pose, anyone?) for a day because I didn't fully listen.
Yoga has wonderful lessons, which I'm still working on...and rest when rest is needed is one of them. I guess that's why I'm still a work in progress.
Ready for health, vitality and more yoga next week,
When you think of a tabletop, what do you think of?
One that is cluttered with stuff like unopened mail, loose bills and sale flyers or one that is perfectly set with every piece of flatware in its place or a momentary landing spot for what is important?
Is your table sturdy and strong or rickety and ready to collapse?
This or That?
If you are like me, I like order on my tabletop with a table base that is planted firmly in the floor. No wobbling allowed or junk sitting on top of it.
I'd like to think of our tabletops as a reflection of the chaos (or lack there of) in our lives.
This week's pose of choice is reverse tabletop pose (ardha purvottanasana) and since I'm one for a strong table, this pose did not let me down.
The first week back to "scheduled life" is always a little chaotic and hectic. Reverse tabletop was the solace I needed.
It is a pose known for relieving fatigue (*hallelujah*) and stress (*whew*). It opens the chest and the shoulders (counteracting poor posture) as well as strengthens the back and pelvic region (perfect for el prego).
A relatively easy pose to maneuver if you don't have wrist issues and/or neck concerns. But one that may not be practiced as much as it's counterpart, tabletop pose. I can't recall the last time I did this pose but the static strength of this pose is unmatchable.
Now you may wonder how the baby belly fit into this week's pose....quite fine I'd have to say. Just think of it as a large fruit bowl in the middle of my table!
Keeping things as sturdy and strong,
Do you recall your childhood dreams? Ever wonder what your life would be like if you pursued them?
The start of every school year, my mom would sit me down to complete my school days scrapbook. It always had a place where I could check off what I wanted to be when I grew up; it included a predetermined list but I could always add one or two.
On the predetermined list, ballerina was always listed. And each and every year until I was probably 12 years old, I picked ballerina as what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Well, this childhood dream was never fulfilled nor have I ever taken a ballet class in my life. However, in this week's practice I was reminded of this dream.
Now it wasn't that I felt like a ballerina this week (completely the opposite as my baby belly grows larger) but I felt pretty strong and balanced doing the king/lord of the dancer pose (natarajasana).
Now I didn't practice the full pose with my leg extended far behind me, but this standing pose was challenging enough with my suspended leg slightly behind my body and the hand pressing into the foot. I was able to balance with success and feel strength through my back/glutes and a well-needed stretch through my chest and front hip.
Dancer's pose is a great heart-opener and with the timing of a new year, it was fitting to practice this pose to help ponder what I see for the future year. It not only reminded me of my past dream(s) but also my 2014 dreams.
What are your 2014 dreams?
A some words that represent my dreams for 2014 would be:
- happiness and contentment
- smiles and fun
- compassion and empathy
And as a new year rolls around, my practice this week reminds me of dreams and encouraged me to dream big this year. Will you?
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.