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How to Cheat at Yoga

The growing popularity of yoga with more than 11 million Americans doing yoga regularly has Americans doing what we do best – inventing a more efficient way.

Yoga Class at a Gym

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In a matter of two decades, yoga has become ‘the new running’ not only for aging baby boomers, but also for our younger generations. Because of our rush to excel, we enhance, heat up, or just intensify traditional yoga. As we transform yoga more into a sport, we also realize that our western bodies don’t perform poses like we think we should.

Think about it, yoga comes from a culture where people often sit on the floor and start their yoga practice as young children. When you take a 40 year-old man that’s stretched a total of an hour his whole life, a little difficulty is to be expected. So, what’s a typical first response when resistance is met? That’s right, we do it harder ­– especially us men. And what happens when new yogis can’t release and relax by straining more? Many quit.

Ways to cheat

Some people are discovering remedial ways to take tight western bodies and loosen them, so what might take 10 years of yoga can occur in less than one. They do this by releasing the soft tissue restrictions through therapies that specifically release chronic tension and it can make a significant difference in how a body benefits from yoga. When you can take a hamstring that feels like a steel cable and turn it into to a soft bungee cord, you are now able to do yoga.

By releasing the chronic tension through precise pressure on the tension, the body slowly relaxes that tension in a way yoga can’t for a tight body. For a chronically tight body, stretching the tightness will have limited effects. Yet, once that body starts to relax, what was torture in yoga becomes pleasure.

Deep tissue or Thai massage are two massages that often help the body become pliable. Over 20 years ago I had a judge come to me for Rolfing because his wife’s yoga class showed him that despite his running success, he had a body of stone. Because he immediately saw improvements with Rolfing, he was a good student. He learned to completely change his running stride so he actually became looser from running. After ten Rolfing sessions and a year of integrating the sessions, he went back to yoga. Immediately, he was one of the loosest men in the class.

Cheating – through the release of tension can:

  • Turn hard tissue soft
  • Prevent hyper-mobilization and cheating during yoga poses
  • Teach your body to relax
  • Allow you to relax – there is no effect
  • Allow you to get into new yoga positions
  • Prevent injuries
  • Quicken and enhance the benefits of yoga
  • Release and then allow you to strengthen your core muscles without tightening

A body that is virtually never stretched can’t be expected to perform like someone’s who has been doing yoga for 20 years. Don’t make it hard on yourself, get help. I love yoga. I recommend it to most of my clients. It’s not only a great way to stay loose; it will keep you fit and young. You might need a little help to prime your yoga pump, but even the yoga instructors I’ve Rolfed over the years will swear to the benefits of releasing the chronic tension and the resulting improvements to their yoga.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer, 30 yrs experience, www.align.org, 265.8440. This article and many more health and wellness articles are at the blog: www.sandpointwellnesscouncil.com. Go to the blog to ask questions or add your comments any article.

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