Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Gym ball and yoga

Those who find yoga tedious can spice up their practice by using the tricky gym ball. This multiplies the benefits of two different exercises. Each complements and enhances the other.

Nowadays everybody is convinced yoga works. But some may raise their eyebrows at the gym ball. It works on the simple principal of the survival reflex, the same trick that makes yoga's balancing poses such superb work-outs. And this is how survival reflex works: when we try to maintain our balance, the large, subtle muscle mass called faschia gets a real work-out.   Most other exercise forms neglect this expanse of muscle fibers. Only when we struggle to maintain a balance in a well-designed  pose do we really challenge these muscle fibers.   Muscles called stablizers are also prodded into action, boosting our stamina to amazing levels. When the stabilizers get sculpted in this fashion, the core muscles are finally allowed to reach their full potential. If all this sounds too much like a biology lesson, let's make this simple: you can really shape up fast if you combine your yoga sadhana with a gym ball. Imagine if just simply sitting on the ball can trim fat, how much more toned you can get executing a yoga pose on it? Interestingly, some difficult yoga poses are more easily learnt when you use the ball as a prop.

Some tips:
  • If you are new-comer to either of these physical regimens, it is best to practice them individually before combining them.
  • If you have never used a ball before, start off by supporting it against something solid (like wall/chair) so your body gets used to its shifting movement. Or ask a partner to hold it or help you get into the pose.
  • Usually, the ball is selected according to your height. But for starters, smaller balls are less intimidating.
 Setu bandha asana (Bridge lock pose)

Lie on your back, feet propped on the ball. Place hands under waist, to support. Inhale, lifting up hips, pushing feet firmly against the ball. Hips must rise as high as possible, body weight supported entirely on hands. Hold the pose, breathing normally. Exhaling, relax back. Do three times. Over the next few weeks, increase duration in the final pose, holding it longer.

Benefits: Shapes the hips, back of thighs. Provides strength training for wrists, arms. Boosts respiration by expanding chest.   The pressure at throat helps regulate thyroid imbalances. Relieves all backaches, especially lower back.

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