If someone asked you what the biggest benefit of yoga for your upper body is, how would you answer? Would you say that all the Down Dogs and chataranguas gave you muscular endurance and strength? That your chest and shoulders are more open and your posture is excellent? Would you mention how your spine is protected because you’ve built up a girdle of mobile muscle to keep you safe from injury?
Or perhaps you’d expand beyond the obvious physical benefits. You could share how you are now a person able to live from a place of compassion, speak your authentic truth, trust your intuition, and visualize Samadhi or enlightenment because you’ve balanced your heart, throat, third-eye, and crown chakras.
Yoga’s benefits are infinite and whatever your answer, you’d be correct. The fruits of a well-rounded yoga practice encompass the physical benefits for your muscular, spinal, nervous, and digestive systems. Opening the physical body creates corresponding openings in the heart and emotions, as well as helping develop a clear, calm mind.
This week’s classes focus on the shoulders, heart, throat, and neck region. You’ll have the opportunity to create strength and mobility and maintain excellent posture. On a deeper level, you will correct imbalances in your subtle body, where the chakras reside.
The Anahata or Heart Chakra is considered the seat of compassion, where we rise above the ego and self-love to develop the ability to love others. By practicing heart openers and strengtheners as well as learning to breathe deeply and fully, we balance this ability to be selfless.
The Visshuda or Throat chakra resides at the base of our throat and is considered the place from which we speak our truth. Many of us find it hard to clearly state our thoughts and feelings. Working to remove blockages of our verbal expression allows us to speak from the heart.
The Ajna Chakra or Third-Eye is located above the brows and is where our inner vision or intuition is located. Stimulating or calming the third-eye helps us to see more clearly and wipe away any blurry lens obscuring our perspective.
The seventh Chakra, Sahasrara, is on the crown of our head and is said to be where we can connect with the divine. Focusing energies on creating an open channel to the Universe is yet one more benefit of dedicating our time to building endurance and opening ourselves to true bliss.
The beautiful thing about these practices is even if you are simply focusing on getting physically stronger, you’ll receive the emotional and mental benefits as well.
Take some time on the mat this week to trying out these new classes and see how you feel.
1. Ben Davis Fitness 'n' Yoga: Body Awakening Flow
2. Eric Paskel Wall Flower: Upper Body
3. Kristen Boyle Speaking from the Head & Heart
4. Desiree Rumbaugh - Upper Body Strength Flow
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