Shoot for the moon by aiming for the stars. Advanced yoga poses should be viewed as goals. You don’t want to let yourself get aggravated or agitated when you don’t find them easy because that is the opposite of how yoga is supposed to make you feel. Yoga poses that beginners should shoot for are supposed to be difficult and they are a way of gauging how well you are doing.
Beginners all start with the same basic poses because you are training your muscles. Muscles have what is called muscle memory. It doesn’t matter if you are learning yoga or you are training for gymnastics. Your muscles learn what to do by repeating the same movements over and over until the muscles get good at that singular movement and remember it easily. Muscle memory plays a huge part in all sports. Any athlete has heard the terminology ‘muscle memory’ and it also applies to yoga.
Training your muscles to learn movements is a sometimes-arduous task because it isn’t easy to get muscles to learn new movements. As you gain muscle and learn balance, through the easier movements of yoga first, you will be strengthening and gradually preparing your body to segway into more difficult movements. With constant repetition, you will realize one day that you can miraculously do something with relative ease that you couldn’t do a few months prior.
Some advanced poses that you can set your sights on:
The Firefly Pose
This pose is exceedingly difficult and requires exceptionally good core strength, which we already discussed is something that is built over time. When you feel that your core muscles are rock-solid, then you’ll be ready to give this one a shot.
Start with your feet about shoulders width apart. Squat down and shift your pelvis area forward. Start with either arms first. Bring your upper arm and the shoulder through the back of the thigh of the corresponding side. Now do the exact thing on the opposite side. Move slowly and deliberately, keeping balance as you move.
Your goal is to now lift yourself off the floor. Begin shifting your weight, slowly moving back and forth in a rocking sort of motion, until your legs are elevated and extended out in front of you. Press downward with flat hands into the floor as you find your balance. The completed pose should end with your feet extending upward, even with your chin, and toes pointed outward. Your legs will almost be resting on your shoulder blades. Yes, it is as hard as it sounds but if you work your slowly to this goal, you will get there.
Lord of the Dance Pose
Start in a mountain pose. This would likely have been one of the very first poses you learned when you began practicing yoga. Breathe as you shift your weight until you are balanced on your right foot. The left leg should be brought-up toward your left buttock cheek. Bend your knee as you move. Center yourself and stiffen your right leg by settling back and letting your thigh center itself under your hip joint.
Keep your body straight. Reach behind with your left arm and grab a firm hold of your left ankle. To relieve stress on the lower back, keep your pelvis shifted forward while you ground your tailbone toward the floor. Pretend that you have a tail and you are using it to point to the floor directly below you.
Gradually move your left foot up and off the floor. You want to extend it back, almost behind you and away from the center of your body. Your thigh should end-up parallel in alignment to the floor. Once you reach this point successfully, move your right arm out in front of yourself as if reaching for something directly in front of yourself. You’re taking a cocktail from a tray. All your limbs will have to push away from each other to maintain balance. It’s a very tricky move because there are so many pieces to the puzzle.
This pose is a big deal. Once you can do this, you’ll feel like the king of yoga. It’s difficult and it is impressive to see someone do. To begin this one, you’ll be on the floor. On the floor, start with your knees wide apart and sit back with your rear resting on your heels. Slowly lean forward and put your hands down on the floor with the fingers facing back towards your body. Don’t lock your elbows, you’ll want them bent slightly. Your pinky fingers should be touching, and your outer arms should be touching each other too.
Now bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle and slip your knees to the outside of your arms. Lean on the back of your arms, the area from shoulder to elbow. Your elbows should be poking you in the stomach, preferable lower than your belly button.
You will want to tighten-up those stomach muscles to help absorb that pressure from your elbows. Breathe deliberately now. Look down at the floor to help you stay balanced. Focus. Lean forward and lift your feet off the floor. Start with just a second or two. It is like planking, you won’t be able to hold it long at first. Gradually, you will build the time that your body can be held up in this pose.
Some people will strap their arms together for extra strength and stability as they are learning. This is up to you and will require some help in the beginning. Otherwise, you can take your time and gradually build-up to maintaining this pose. It is about building strength and balance to an ultimate level of achievement. Good luck!
The Many Yoga Benefits
Everyone knows that a sense of achievement is a huge bolster to the ego, to one’s sense of being and self-confidence. As you learn and acquire new skills, you begin to feel more confident in all aspects of your life and this is a feeling that you simply cannot replace. Yoga benefits you by adding years to your life and ensuring that you get to enjoy those years with more mobility and flexibility than others as they age.
The breathing that is done with yoga brings oxygen that is purposeful into the body, as you are stretching. This allows oxygen to enter joints and make them more fluid and supplier in their movements. A great benefit of this is that arthritis pain can be alleviated through yoga. Oxygenated blood brings healing energy with it and you’ll feel a warm sensation as your joints are flooded with fresh blood and oxygen.
Concentration and mental focus are built through the practice of yoga. It takes great concentration to control all the muscles of the body in a dance of balance that requires much training as you progressively challenge yourself to more difficult poses.
Keeping your muscles stretched and your body strong can keep you physically younger. Those who practice yoga often live much longer lives. Whether it is a combination of the physical and mental acuity that yoga requires, people who practice yoga tend to live longer and happier lives.
Yoga is a great way to relax and let go of stress also. This undoubtedly influences quality of life and could add years to the lives of most people. We know that stress has many negative effects on the body and yoga is a wonderful way to relieve that stress to reduce the risk of heart disease and chronic illness.
Yoga also teaches us about setting goals and working towards them. Yoga is wonderful for the family and children should be introduced to it at a young age so that they learn how to relax properly. It becomes an early habit when kids are introduced to yoga and a family does it together. It’s quality family time. Children are naturals at yoga because they are especially flexible still. Old age hasn’t crept into their joints yet and if they are able to embrace the practice of yoga, the odds are that they won’t ever feel the extreme grip of aging joints. If they are taught to challenge their flexibility early-on, they will enjoy making yoga something that they do for the rest of their lives.
Time and practice bring improvement without much effort. Learning to relax and let the process happen is what is important. Improvement slowly creeps up on us. That is the way of practicing something with enthusiasm and enjoyment. When you have fun, you’ll stick with it and the rewards will be many. Having improved flexibility even helps to ensure that you suffer fewer muscle sprains and tears because your body will always be in such a relaxed and flexible state.