Contributor: Sandra Fang, Yin Yang Japan Ambassador
Welcome to my Yin Yang yoga wear column! As a long-time yoga practitioner and yoga teacher, I’m aware of the immense benefits yoga can offer to anyone. Whether you’re attracted to yoga for physical health, for a healthier lifestyle, for better focus on work, or for better relationships with others, yoga can help on all those aspects. Unfortunately there’s only so much I can share in this column, so don’t hesitate to join classes at your local studio and to practice with professional teachers regularly to receive the full benefits of yoga.
Lunge poses are some of the most common postures in the yoga practice, and for good reason. These poses are easy to access even for beginners and yet offer a variety of benefits, including building strength, flexibility, concentration, and body awareness.
In our modern lifestyle, most of us spend a lot of time sitting everyday. We are busy in our heads but our body remains inactive. We tend to sit with our spine rounding and shoulders slumping forward. This causes tight hips and poor blood circulation. Low lunge helps to counteract that poor posture and rejuvenate our body.
Can you tell that I’m 7th month pregnant in this photo? For pregnant women, bring your front leg a bit out to the side to make room for your baby.
In low lunge, with your pelvis facing forward, focus on rooting the front foot down to the earth. Try to sink the pelvis towards the floor and feel the front side of your back thigh stretching. These hip flexor muscles and quadriceps get tight after sitting for a long time. At the same time, try to lengthen the spine, feel the crown of your head and your chest bone reaching higher towards the ceiling. Feel your chest opening and take a few deep breaths here.
Now be aware of your neck and shoulders, are you holding unnecessary tension around this area? Try to bring your shoulder blades down away from your ears and feel your neck relaxed. Be mindful of this action in your daily life too, so you can be more conscious of your posture and release unnecessary tension when you’re stressed.
The two most important elements of the yoga asana practice is to find stability and easy. Experience that with your own body in this pose.
If you’re looking for more strength in your lower body, from low lunge, tuck the back toes and lift the back knee up to high lunge. Feel the strength in your legs and find focus in your mind.
If you’re looking for more strength from your core, bring your upper body slightly forward to make a straight line with the back leg. This is a strong pose that helps to engage the core muscles. Focus on grounding the back toes, keep the front thigh strong, lengthen the spine and bring the shoulder blades down from the ears. Breathe easy, find stability and easy in your posture.