Body-mind connection through yoga

Practicing yoga poses is a form of moving meditation. Yoga as we know it is a sequence of postures, and is a great way to be physically active. When movement is paired with breath, this is called “Vinyasa”, a method that is very commonly practiced in all yoga styles and sequences. The Vinyasa method helps release toxins in the body, improve flexibility, build strength, and increase stamina. It is no wonder people who practice yoga experience a sense of calm and feel more at peace.

Yoga can be practiced for 15 minutes, or 90 minutes. The duration of your practice is not as important as how effective your practice is. This means a few things: practicing with awareness, connecting to your breath, and being present. There are thousands of yoga poses, but some poses, known as fundamental poses of yoga, are all you need to make up a complete yoga practice.

Let’s explore sun salutation A, which is a series of poses found in many of the yoga sequences:

    • Mountain pose: extends arms up to lengthen whole body.

    • Forward Fold: stretches the backline of the body.

    • Half Forward Fold (or half lift): strengthens the back.

    • Chaturanga (four-limbed pose): strengthens arms, shoulders, and legs; develops core strength and stability.

    • Upward-Facing Dog: stretches chest, shoulders and abdomen.

    • Downward-Facing Dog: strengthens arms and legs; stretches shoulders, hamstrings, and calves; lengthens spine.

    • Standing Evenly: grounding and calming; brings attention to breath and posture.

If this sequence is done daily, anywhere between 5 to 10 rounds, this is a complete yoga practice as it establishes a mind-body connection through movement and concentration on breath.

Yoga can be practiced anywhere, by everyone and anyone. A lot of times, we are unable to make it to a studio to take a yoga class. The Nike Training Club or "NTC" app is full of yoga sequences suitable for practitioners of all levels. You can choose from flow-inspired sequences to more restorative practices. If you’re short on time, consider a brief yoga sequence that is good for mobility and recovery; you can find an 18-minute yoga sequence on the NTC app called “Yoga Ready”. If you’re a runner, consider a different approach to your pre and post run stretch, such as the 7-minute "Run Ready Yoga” sequence from the NTC App. If you decided to go for a lengthier yoga practice, you might want to explore the “Ultimate Strength Yoga” sequence on the NTC app.

Yoga is best practiced in the morning before your day starts and on an empty stomach. While there are physical benefits in doing so, the more important reason is the state of mind that you will be in. When you wake up, your mind is not racing through a million things, to-do lists, or dealing with frustrations of the day. Practicing on an empty stomach will prevent you from feeling any discomfort while moving through yoga poses with a full belly. Of course, you can get on your mat anytime, just make sure you allow enough time to digest your food (2-4 hours). If you are able to dedicate some time for a yoga practice in the morning, your NTC app offers a lot of 20-minute yoga sequences that will surely set the right tone for the rest of your day. I highly recommend the “Dynamic Restorative Yoga” sequence; it’s my personal favorite yoga sequence on the NTC app.

Here are a few words of advice to inspire you to get on your mat every day, whether you choose to practice early in the morning before your day starts, or after working hours:

Commit! It takes about 21 days to form a new habit. The key is that you stick to it, then it becomes part of your routine. Try to practice at the same time every day. I find that setting an alarm with a positive or inspirational message helps. Understand the benefits of being active every day. Yoga is good for the body, mind, and soul. It’s all about perspective! 

Author: Nike Trainer Joumana Saber.