Holding poses for a longer period of time is an extremely beneficial addition to your practice.
Holding a pose for a longer period helps build strength and stamina. For example when you hold Warrior II for a longer period, the muscles of your legs and arms have to work harder to maintain the pose.
When you hold a pose, you have time to actually feel, to adjust and to readjust. Watch out for allowing your mind to become completely occupied with this. While it’s fine to take some time to focus on your alignment don’t allow it to become your sole focus in the pose.
Holding a pose for longer then you are used to can often give space for emotions to arise. You go beyond the point that is comfortable (obviously you come out of the pose if it feels painful or does not feel ‘right’). Going beyond the comfort zone can bring up fear and other emotions.
Then there are prone poses such as Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) and Shalabhasana (Locust Pose) that even adepts do not hold for more than a minute. On the other hand, certain poses such as Sirshasana (Head Stand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) may comfortably be held with practice for up to ten minutes. Here again, different schools of Yoga have differing views. It actually all depends upon a variety of factors including your gender, age, physical fitness, medical health, flexibility and needs.
All of the meditative poses, however, can be held for longer periods of time, without any complications. For these types of postures, it is actually beneficial to retain the asana without needing to take a break. These poses include the Easy Pose (Sukhasana), the Corpse Pose (Shavasana), and the Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana). Asanas are meant to strengthen the mind and spirit, while toning the body, in a safe progressive manner.
Hatha is a Sanskirt word of two parts: ‘Ha’ for sun and ‘tha’ meaning moon. Characteristics related with the sun are passion, masculinity and strength, while moon qualities are freshness, femininity and surrender. Together (sun, moon, male and female) contain physical qualities of hot and cold, firm and fluid. It is in our physical bodies that we strive to cultivate a balance of strength and flexibility, learning to balance our effort and surrender in each pose through breath and mind control. The knowledge Hatha expresses is that both sun and moon energy exists within us all. Hatha is a unification of 2 opposites to illuminate all existence into totality and create balanced harmony from within.
Today, hatha is most often used to describe gentle, basic yoga classes with no flow between poses. Expect a slower-paced stretching-focused class with some basic pranayama breathing exercises and perhaps a seated meditation at the end. Hatha classes are a good place to work on your alignment, learn relaxation techniques, and become comfortable with doing yoga while building strength and flexibility.
A hatha yoga routine consists of a series of physical postures and breathing techniques. Routines can take anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on the needs and ability of the practitioner. Yoga should always be adapted to one’s state of health; that is, a shorter and easier routine should be used when a person is fatigued. Yoga is ideally practiced at the same time every day, to encourage the discipline of the practice. It can be done at any time of day; some prefer it in the morning as a wake-up routine, while others like to wind down and de-stress with yoga at the end of the day.
Today, the term hatha is used in such a broad way that it is difficult to know what a particular hatha class will be like. In most cases, however, it will be relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer. It can vary a lot, so it is a good idea to call the studio before attending the class.
Popular hatha classes include:
Yoga for Hips, Hamstrings and Back.
Hatha Yoga For Beginners: Better Balanace.
Seated Hatha Yoga.
Hatha Yoga to Release the Lower Back.
When I first started practicing yoga I took a class. We opened with sound of om and then again sealed in our practice with the sound of om. I remember thinking to myself, “what is om and why are we doing this and more importantly how can these people hold this for so long?!”. Years later I still practice yoga, and still open and close my practice with om.
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. Coming from Hinduism and Yoga, the mantra is considered to have high spiritual and creative power but despite this, it is a mantra that can be recited by anyone. It’s both a sound and a symbol rich in meaning and depth and when pronounced correctly it is actually AUM.
Why do we chant it?
Everything in the universe is pulsating and vibrating – nothing is really standing still! The sound Om, when chanted, vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz, which is the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature.
As such AUM is the basic sound of the universe; so by chanting it we are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound and acknowledging our connection to all other living beings, nature and the universe.
“The syllable OM, which is the imperishable Brahman, is the universe. Whatsoever has existed, whatsoever exists, and whatsoever shall exist hereafter, is OM. And whatsoever transcends past, present, and future, that also is OM.”
Yoganand says that chanting om also creates a link with those who have practiced before us. “It’s a sound that validates oneness and harmony,” he says. “We chant it because yogis have for thousands of years. And when we chant it, we’re connecting with those yogis in a ritual way, and drawing upon the support of the practices they’ve been doing for a long, long time.”
Create a habit.
Just like taking care of your car or brushing your teeth, your yoga practice should (and will!) become a habit and a standard part of your daily routine. Kripalu Yoga teacher Evelyn Gonzalez leads workshops at Kripalu designed to help people determine how to start practicing yoga at home. Using her personal experiences to guide others, she says, “If I go for months without a regular yoga routine I can feel my body start to fall apart.” The goal is to get to the point at which no doing yoga would be like not brushing your teeth, not getting your car’s oil changed.
“Be loose and free about the routine. Do as much or as little as you feel like doing. Think about what’s best for you and you alone,” Evelyn advises. Just because your neighbor practices for an hour a day doesn’t mean you should too. The first thing to ask yourself is: What schedule works best for me? If you’re already a morning person, consider practicing shortly after you wake up. Maybe your lunch break is the best time to practice, or perhaps before bed, to wind down from the busy day.
Breathe first. Let your breath guide your Asana practice. If you’re not breathing, you’re probably not being mindful. BUT, don’t beat yourself up if you notice you’ve lost your deep yogic breath. Compassion and love is what it’s all about.
Do some asana. Surya Namaskar A can be a nice place to start, but once you get going and used to doing a morning practice, I’d invite you to take some long yogic breaths and then move into whatever poses or series of poses you feel called to.
Stick with a set sequence. Practicing the same poses every day repeatedly is a powerful way to keep consistent with your practice. This repetition offers you a clear vantage point from which to watch yourself grow and change. The nature and sequencing of Ashtanga Yoga offers this beautifully. You don’t have to think about what pose you want to do next, so instead you can focus on your breath, bandhas and drishti. This takes you into a deeper meditative and focused place, so that you will step off your mat feeling more present and peaceful.
Do Not Try Everything at Home
However, as much as we love trying new things, that doesn’t mean we should try everything we see on social media. As Crow pointed out, it’s crucial to learn and understand not only the standard asanas but also the anatomy and kinesthetics of the body before attempting extreme variations of yoga poses. And remember, as wonderful as social media can be, it’s always best to learn under the guidance of a teacher. Enough said.
One of the most fundamental types of breathing we use is long, deep breathing. This is a breath in which you pull the air from your belly and try to slow your breathing down to one to four cycles per minute. Below are some of the many benefits of this simple breath.
Breathing is vital for our survival as it is the only way we can send oxygen inside our body and into our organs. We can live for months without consuming food and days without water, however we can only survive a few minutes without breathing. When you learn the breathing techniques it will positively affect your actions and thoughts. Every thought we have changes the rhythm of our breath. When we are happy breathing is rhythmic and when we are stressed breathing is irregular and interrupted. Mastering the art of breathing is a crucial step towards self-healing and survival.
When focusing on the breath during our asana practice, the control of the breath shifts from the brain stem (medulla oblongata) to the cerebral cortex (evolved part of brain) due to us being aware of the breath. It’s in that moment, when we are aware, when the magic starts to happens. The mind will become more quiet and a calm awareness arises.
The variations of breathing patterns and styles can often be daunting and overwhelming to new participants to Yoga. However, often the more simple of breathing forms can provide the greatest rewards and benefits. As one of the simplest forms of breathing, basic nostril breathing yields a wealth of benefits.
8 effective benefits of alternate nostril breathing:
Cleanses your lungs:
Improves brain function:
Calms an agitated mind
Merges the left “thinking” brain and right “feeling brain:
Encourage a calmer emotional state
Great preparation for meditation:.
Regulates the cooling and warming cycles of the body: