If there's one thing we can learn from the recent influx of yoga-related media outbursts (if you haven't heard the buzz around the New York Times article on the perils of posing, read it here) it's that every studio, student and teacher brings their own ideologies and preferences to their daily, weekly or monthly practice. And whatever they are, well, we're just fine with that.Variations on a theme
Upon skimming the article, I was immediately reminded of a recent class I took at Jivamukti Yoga School in New York City, during which an instructor actually encouraged me not to get into a headstand. As she explained, I wasn't ready for it; and there are many steps I need to perfect-pre-poses, if you will-before I can even think about mastering this Holy Grail of inversions.
Sure, try to contort your body into a position it's not meant to be in (yet), and you may very well injure yourself, as implied by the NYT. But there are many positions in yoga that are really good for you-so good that they actually evoke feelings of pure happiness.
Drawing on a recent poll we took of Zeel readers who also happen to be avid yogis, I present to you a brief look at some of your favorite poses-the positions that feel so delightful, you could stay in them all day long.
Warrior (Virabhadrasana). An anchor of many yoga practices, warrior poses open the heart, stretch the chest and lungs, and work the inner and outer muscles of the thighs, calves and ankles. It's named for the "spiritual warrior" and can be performed in three variations.
Crow (Bakasana). Arm balance alert! Crow is an advanced inversion that does wonders for the shoulders, arms, wrists and the all-mighty core. Once you've mastered crow, work your way into side crow.
Tree pose (Vrksasana). Tree is one of the most peaceful poses in all of yoga. It's also one of the most iconic. Stand in tree, and you'll be sure to improve balance and posture while strengthening your abdominal muscles.
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Another mainstay of yoga, downward facing dog is one of those poses you come back to time and again, whether you're a beginner or a pro. Calming? Yes. Energizing? Definitely. An amazing position that stretches the shoulders, hamstrings and calves? Check, check and check!
Rabbit (Sasangasana). A true spine-stretcher, rabbit pose lengthens the muscles in your back while improving circulation from head to toe.
Corpse pose (Savasana). Also known as "dead man's pose," savasana is the last asana performed in all yoga classes, inducing a much-deserved moment of total body relaxation as you melt into the earth-or the floor of your midtown yoga studio.
Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Kapotasana). Pigeon pose is one of the best hip openers you can do. It stretches the backs of the thighs, the groin and the lower back all along the sciatic nerve. It's perfect for relieving the discomfort of piriformis syndrome, making it one of this editor's personal favorites.
Did we miss any? Which yoga poses do you wish you could do every hour on the hour, and why do you love them so?