Let’s face it: Our modern lifestyle and resulting body movement and posture is a far cry from the life and regime of the traditional yoga practitioners. When you factor age and a history of injuries and illnesses into the equation the discrepancy widens.
I found this out the hard way when my left shoulder collapsed during practice a few years ago. On my journey to recovery I analysed and researched the background of my injury and how to successfully rehabilitate my muscles and relative flexibility. My aim was to strengthen and support the joints affected during my shoulder injury, operation and subsequent recovery, to regain my former range of motion and strength. It became clear to me that I needed to complement my traditional yoga asana practice with strength training and a functional approach to correct muscle development whilst opening the body deeper.
The outcome was to include in my practice a focus on developing the synergistic muscles (the ones that help getting the job done by stabilizing the joint) as they are the ones getting the work done correctly. Unfortunately, if your synergistic muscles are not already well-developed then the practice of many traditional asana sequences may not place enough emphasis on development of these little muscles but too much on the already strong agonistic muscles.
Our Yoga Stamina classes are built on this principle of synergistic muscle development: While the classes are centered around the classical Hatha Yoga postures and Vinyasa Krama sequences, there is a particular emphasis on building supporting strength with correct body alignment, through the use of light weights and resistance bands. Supporting strength is commonly referred to as ‘core’ strength and limited to the abdominals – in yoga, we refer to this grounding strength to the engagement of the ‘bandhas’. These go beyond abdominal strength and when combined with correct yogic breathing, make our practice stable and light. From this bandha foundation the supporting strength is then extended into the hips, legs, shoulders and wrists.
Yoga Stamina is a great way to develop balanced strength and flexibility in all muscle groups while staying true to the principles of an authentic Yoga practice.