Balancing yoga postures can be an intense challenge for many practitioners. When we hold balancing poses for extended breaths and even cycle in multiple balancing poses in a row, we readily see many students in the group coming out of the sequence needing to shake off the tension and lactic acid build up in the feet. Equally problematic for many is just the simple process of finding steadiness. When I did my teacher training (eons ago), we were taught to suggest to students that they step off their mat to find more stable grounding. I have recently come to a conclusion that this may be of disservice and in fact, we may want to consider going in the opposite direction to, in fact, challenge our balancing poses even more.
For regular yoga practitioners, we clearly know yoga provides a bounty of health and wellness benefits. The aspects of flexibility, strength, stress-reduction, and improved energy becomes a primary focus for most people. But a new study adds an even more convincing and motivating reason to do yoga regularly. A study from the University of North Texas Health Science Centre has discovered strong evidence that stretching and flexibility are related to the health of arteries and overall cardiovascular health.
We practice yoga to acquire strength and space in the body so it becomes more free to find stillness through our methods of self observance. During this process of becoming stronger and more mobile, are these asanas truly nurturing our joints or are we potentially sending damage into connective tissue like our cartilage?