There is no competition in yoga. The underlying principle is a free mental attitude. Each person starts from where he is, takes the time required and awaits progress without impatience.
The section outlines the basic principles of physical yoga:
In yoga postures, muscles are to be stretched gently. When the point of maximum stretch is reached, the stretch should be maintained for 30-60 seconds without causing strain in the breathing process or pain in body. When regularly stretched, the muscle fibres and tendons gradually respond by changing their tonus and elongating slightly.
Careful stretching is compatible with calm, unrestrained breathing and flow in body movements. What happens in the muscles during stretching is similar to what occurs during relaxation. Stretching too far, however, will provoke pain, and the breath and body movements will lose their gracefulness. This indicates that the person is pushing himself too far….In yoga, the main emphasis is on the stretch, but always within limits that fall short of blinding the breath and movements.
Differentiated & coordinated movements:
Done properly, yoga entails little expenditure of energy.
However, a beginner tends to use far more muscles than required, and also to struggle and strain. With more practice, only the necessary muscles are involved. Such improvements are called differentiation and coordination; they come with practice and develop more quickly when the attention is engaged.
In classical yoga, movements should be slow and should be made at a constant, unhurried pace, without force, jerking or pulling. The same goes for the transition from one posture to the next.
Half-open or closed eyes:
When more experienced, it is advantageous to do yoga with half-open or even closed eyes. In this way, the student becomes more aware of the inner aspects of movements, breath and mind.
Breathe through the nose:
During practice of yoga, it is preferable to breathe through the nose. Under times of stress or strenuous physical exercise, we tend to breathe through the mouth to supply the tissues with enough oxygen, however, when we have an inner focus associated with rest, calm and meditation, we normally breathe through the nose.
Coordinating breath and movement: Yoga postures should be done with deep, calm and regular breathing. The pace of physical movements should be attuned to the rhythm of the breath. We might say that the breathing controls movements and movements control the breathing.
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