Sometimes we need a reminder that as humans we are animals too! Since the dawn of time, we have lived alongside birds and bees, and have even coexisted with animals like dogs and cats as companions for thousands of years. While Native American communities revere spirit animals as guides, the ancient Egyptians believed cats were magical and brought good luck to owners. In India, cows are considered sacred, and there are many texts delving into animal worship (or Zoolatry), which suggest that primitive man's infatuation with the animal kingdom arose out of a curiosity about animals. which had imitable characteristics.
In the world of yoga, we can see how animals provided inspiration in the form of Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog), Kurmasana (turtle pose) and Garudasana (eagle pose). Religions that have influenced yoga like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all symbolically use animals, and ancient stones and artifacts found in the Indus Valley show carvings and depictions of rhinos, elephants, and of bulls. One of the most controversial and important recovered stones linked to the beginnings of yoga itself even shows what scholars and historians have called the `` lord of animals '' - also considered by many to be the god Shiva.
Whether you have explored the origins of yoga and its mysterious history, or simply enjoy the practice for its physical and mental benefits, we can further deepen our understanding of yoga by learning more about the postures. With many animal-inspired yoga poses, the original intention was not just to `` make '' the shape, but to embody the qualities and energy of the animal itself. Read on to find out how to embody four key animal asanas in your practice!
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward Facing Dog Pose
Although this specific posture does not appear in ancient Hatha Yoga texts, an almost identical asana called Gajasana (elephant posture) does, and it is advisable to repeat this posture `` over and over '' in Sritattvanidhi, a 19e century Mysore Palace script (in case you are wondering why it appears so many times in ashtanga or vinyasa flow style lessons!) When we practice the face down dog, we are reminded of how humans evolved from animals that crawled on all fours, and studies show that when we adopt hands-knees or even “crawling” positions, we reconnect to our original primitive strength. This type of position also has mental benefits, strengthening neural connections and improving brain communication between the left and right hemispheres, making our reflexes more efficient and improving our overall ability to move. Knowing all of this, perhaps we could give our time in a downward-facing dog to help us let go of the over-thoughtful, tech-driven, stressed human life, and spend time in the always-on mindset. curious and playful. , non-expectant and naturally strong dog.
BKS Iyengar said that this pose is dedicated to Kurma, the turtle incarnation of Vishnu, and that there are many variations, ranging from the simple and accessible, to the more complex and requiring a lot of flexibility in the hamstrings, hips, spine and shoulders. Whichever variant of asana you choose, you can deepen your experience and awareness of it by embodying the qualities of the turtle itself. In many cultures, the tortoise represents deep wisdom and knowledge, patience and longevity, and is also the personification of immortality, fertility, the moon and the earth. It is important to note today that we can use this posture as a way to calm ourselves down, reminding ourselves of the benefits of living slower and taking the time to absorb what we are learning and experiencing, thus transforming it. in wisdom. The Kurmasana posture itself can be a place to retreat and practice pratyahara or `` withdrawal of the senses, '' and practicing it regularly can help us stay connected to a sense of introspection and tranquility that the turtle does. represents in many religions.
The swift, keen, and predatory eagle is often depicted as a symbol of strength, leadership, and vision in Native American culture. Spiritually, it represents a connection with divinity, since the eagle flies higher than other birds. If you have practiced Garudasana before, you will know how much focus and strength the posture takes to maintain for a while, encouraging us to stay focused and cultivate eka graha or `` one point focus '' when we have it. need in life. . Eagles can also remind us to see situations from a different or `` higher '' perspective, and to know that whatever the circumstances, you have the potential to rise up and fly higher than you think!
The lion symbology represents majesty, strength, courage and pride, and sometimes we all need a little lion energy! Simhasana involves kneeling with your mouth wide open and tongue outstretched, and letting out a big, confident "ahhhhhh". When we open our mouths and create that sound, not only do we release the physical tension from the face, but we also release the emotional tension. To be our strongest and bravest selves, it helps to let go of the things that hold us back, like self-awareness, worry, or fear, and practicing this asana with sound and breath is wonderful. way to remind ourselves how powerful we really are. ! When it comes to the chakras, Simhasana helps release any energy stuck around the throat chakra, encouraging us to speak freely, express our opinions, and let out the occasional roar!
Everyone seems to be a yogi these days, from your BFF to your co-worker to your aunt—heck, even dogs and goats are getting their zen on. But if you have yet to attempt Warrior II or Mountain Pose, taking your first yoga chic can be a little intimidating. What if your hands sweat and you fall off the mat ? What if you hate it ? What if you can’t do a solo. damn. pose ?
Okay, rewind a second—there’s a reason so many people have hopped on a mat over the past few years. ' Yoga is a non-judgmental practice, ' says Claire Ewing, certified yoga instructor and studio marketing directeur for CorePower Yoga. It’s is a totally accessible way to unwind and break a sweat, so there’s nothing to worry about before checking out a chic.
But to help you feel a little more comfortable before you say your first ' om ' or ' namaste, ' Ewing has some yoga tips to answer all those questions floating around your head.
When in doubt, Ewing says opt for a vinyasa flow chic, ' where you have the opportunity to explore the postures and fundamental principles of yoga. ' These are the genres of classes most of your friends probably do, and it’s a great form of yoga for beginners. But of course, it never hurts to check out a couple different genres of classes to see what feels best to you.
' Definitely go for something breathable and easy to move in, ' says Ewing. ' You will work up a sweat, so consider wearing something with moisture-wicking abilities. ' Oh and FYI : Yoga is a no-shoes kind of workout, so don’t worry about sporting your best sneakers to chic.
Like with any workout, it’s totally a personal preference how much you fuel pre-yoga. But Ewing points out that yoga is a pretty soutenu workout, and fueling your body properly will help you get the most out of your practice. Keep it light, though, ' I usually start with a protein shake or bar knowing that the classes can physically take you in dynamic directions, ' says Ewing. ( A. k. a. don’t down that massive avo toast right before chic. ) If you’re just having a small pre-workout snack, you can probably do that about 30 minutes beforehand; but wait a full one to two hours before working out after a meal.
She adds that hydrating beforehand is also key, especially if you ever do attempt a heated flow. ' Drink a full glass of water about two hours before class—that way you have something to sweat out and you will feel better during chic. '
' Absolutely ! ' says Ewing. ' A regular yoga practice increases flexibility and strength in your zones musculaires. It has you work your full range of motion in every joint of your body and build strong and long groupes musculaires. ' ( In fact, vinyasa yoga even made this list of the top calorie-burning workouts. )
This depends on the type of yoga class you take—for example, a slow flow or hatha class may require you to hold a pose for an extended period of time. But in vinyasa, ' it comes down to the intention of how the positionnement was designed, ' says Ewing. ' For example, balancing poses are held longer to benefit concentration and focus, while transition postures build strength while teaching fluidity in movement. '
For the most part, though, poses are held for three to five breaths during the first round to help them sink into your memory. Then they’re held for a solo breath when you repeat the pose, to help amp up the cardio component of yoga.
Don’t stress ! No one expects you to master every pose your first go-round ( or really, ever—it’s a constant learning process ). Your yoga instructor should offer possibilités for pose modifications, especially for the more challenging ones. ' Your breath is key in yoga, if you are losing sight of this, you may want to consider modifying or completely backing off, ' says Ewing. And don’t be afraid to ask your instructor for assistance.
Also, try to avoid comparing yourself to the other yogis in the room—all bodies are unique, and have varied strengths and défis. Plus, every time you step on the mat, it’s going to feel a little different, ' for both your body and your mind, ' says Ewing. ' If there is one thing you can take away from the classroom, it is learning how to modify and create a practice that is fit for you. '