Why Yoga is The Best & Most Complete System of Movement

When we think about the human body and movement we must simply look at anatomy and biomechanics. The body is able to only do so much in terms of these 2 biological mechanisms. All movement systems have these things in common, some focus more on special aspects of the bodies mechanical system and therefore anatomy which is completely logical. This does not mean to denigrate any specific system over another. However, in terms of physical therapy, body awareness, body balance structurally and mechanically, and simple body harmony nothing compares to Yoga. Now, one caveat, not all yoga systems under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga are created equally. Again, this is not meant to denigrate any particular style.

First lets take a deeper look into why Yoga is the best for the aforementioned reasons.

One, Yoga can be and in best learned in a slow manner that focuses on awareness of how the body moves into and within a particular posture known as an Asana.

Two, Yoga is a combination of multiple movement factors including, flexibliity, strength, neuromuscular coordination, balance, mobility and breath.

Three, Yoga is moves the body through and within multiple planes and in various manners of movement. This high level of coordination requires one to have the strength to obtain the position, the ability to coordinate multiple muscles to make the movement happen and this create the mobility and flexibility required to obtain the end result.

Four, Yoga requires coordination of multiple high level elements of human movement done with 100% attention to detail and held in place for time all while controlling heart rate and respiration to a well below other traditional movements.

Five, building off of 4, Yoga was designed as a breathing practice with movement following breath. This means the breath drives the movement. It is to be done in a controlled manner through the nostrils. It should follow the edicts of steadiness and ease as then should the movement. Therefore, all students move at a different pace which makes the Mysore practice so brilliant in its ability to have all students do the same practice taking into consideration their personal breath and their personal ability within the posture.

Six, it is a moving meditation practice and that is a prime focus of Yoga. Meditation in action and in stillness.

I can go on but I believe this is a great start to the conversation. I know personally Yoga has helped improve my other movement system practices not only physically but mentally as I am better able to control my breath and mind. While we often associate Yoga with stretching and flexibility that is a very short sided view to a much more complex and highly evolved system.

The best place to start is with the Iyengar method. The student is taught about the postures in a slow, controlled and supportive manner. Practicing in this light will help students evolve into other forms if so they choose and thereby enhance their awareness and ability to perform the postures as asked by the system or more playful methods which give freedom to the teacher to sequence.

Why Iyengar Yoga is Perfect for Athletes

What is Iyengar Yoga

In short Iyengar yoga focuses on proper form and alignment of the body in yoga Postures. It incorporates tools such as blocks, straps, blankets and more to help people find their optimal position. In addition, more advanced practitioners of the practice are further instructed on breathing principles which are keys to deeper effects within the practice.

What you need to Know

Think of this a deep and prolonged stretching series that focuses on increasing flexibility, range of motion and overall muscular balance to the body. Most athletes suffer in some form or another in all 3 of the above. The Iyengar practice is an active practice where the athlete uses the bodies innate kinesthetic, anatomical and bio-mechanical principles to effectively stretch the body. While the postures make appear to be static they are far from. Using the concept of reciprocal inhibition and contract/relax such as in PNF techniques, the individual is meant to pay attention to the finer details and actively create the posture.

Athletes Do Not Need Another Workout

Athletes do not need more workouts therefore practices such as Vinyasa, Power or Bikram Yoga are not suited for their needs. All athletes have specific needs and it is important to provide them with the postures that suit. In the Iyengar system, the Teacher can pick the appropriate postures to address the needs. In addition, the deeper and more prolonged stretching will help to active the parasympathetic nervous system creating a relaxing feel and a gentle active recovery.

Conclusion

Athletes in general need far more specific work, much greater attention to detail within the work and generally simpler not more complex movements and instruction. We as Coaches and Sports Medicine Practitioners do not need to step beyond the basics to effectively address the challenges 95% of the Athletes and People we treat face in the Orthopedic side. Any movement provides the opportunity to be therapeutic, it is our ability to effectively teach and translate to the individual and their ability to do as asked that often determine the success. Iyengar Yoga is a system that allows us Practitioners to put our Athletes in positions that address common issues.

Simple & Short Series of Movements To Stretch The Psoas

This series is a great series for stretching the Psoas. The key is how we use the body in the series to strengthen and stretch the hips as a whole. Often times the gluteals, in particular the Gluteus Maximus is ineffective at doing its job. In this series it is crucial that the Gluteus Maximus performs properly in order to help release the Psoas. This relationship is crucial for the hips in terms of Bio-Mechanics and healthy function. So, we are not only ‘stretching’ but we are strengthening as well. Most important a consistent practice and use of these methods will help develop the all too important neuro-muscular coordination and function of the hip complex and more.

What you may also notice is mention of the core, the concept of squeezing the legs together, the use of the Lats and more. These are crucial concepts for proper function of the body on the whole. Yoga and this practice is Physical Therapy. Practice this and your body will thank you. Some of the concepts may seem esoteric therefore finding a good Yoga teacher may be helpful.

Psoas Short Series

The Anti-Sit Plan for Better Posture and Pain Relief

Sitting is and leads to problems with pain by encouraging bad posture. There has been a movement toward standing desks and the like which presents a list of other problems. However, moving between sitting and standing throughout a traditional work day will help. But, we must embrace the truth, you need to reset your body and one of the best ways is through postural training using yoga and stretching methods. Regardless of what you might read on the internet, in my 20 years I have seen personally and know a number of other professionals whom have been at this game longer than I see tremendous success in using and applying yoga and stretching principles.

Here is a guide to some great postures and a great start. Most important is to do them and do them daily. Do not stress over time, etc. just practice and all will come especially if you stay consistent.

The Anti Sit Plan

Low Back Stretching Guide for Pain Relief and Management

As a professional Sports Medicine Practitioner and Yoga teacher its is all too often I see patients with lower back pain. Here is a sample of some of the common yoga stretches/movements I use both for patients and in Yoga classes I teach. Note there are other things that will support a health back including learning how to use your deeper core muscles (Transverse Abdominals) in yoga this relates to the uddiyana bandha (located at or near the navel and means to bind. It is best to work with a trained professional who can teach techniques to strengthen the Transverse Abdominals or a Yoga Teacher who can teach you how to use the concept in your practice.

This guide is purely based on stretches that done daily will help you improve the strength, mobility and flexibility of the body supporting the low back and spine. Yes, there are many other poses/movements that will help and I encourage you to listen to your body and do what works and make it a regular practice.

Please feel free to share. Also, you are welcome to reach out and email me with any questions.

Warmly, Joe Sarti

Low Back Pain Guide