5 Simple Questions Get Amazing Yoga Results
Is this where my foot goes?
If this leg is straight, what is that arm doing?
And I’m supposed to breathe?!
Is this the conversation in your head during a yoga class?
You’re not alone. A lot of people get overwhelmed when they’re learning something new. Especially in yoga because there’s so much to take in. And to top it off, it can feel like you never really know if you’re doing it right.
But what if I were to show you an insider’s secret that will help you get the most from your yoga?
It’s easy, and it’s something you can start doing it today.
Shall I show you?
Dr. Ray Long created a checklist called The Bandha Yoga Codex (BYC). You’ll find it in his Mat Companion Series. It’s a great method to help you get the most from your yoga poses.
It goes something like this…
- Which joints are being affected?
- Which muscles are contracting?
- Which muscles are getting longer?
- Can you expand your chest?
- Can you make your pose a bandha?
The BYC is a powerful resource. And I believe you should use it each time you practice.
But I always felt that it was missing one tiny, important piece. Something that would make it, even more, awesomer.
So I did some deep introspection. And when the answer came to me, I took the liberty of adding an important question to use before applying the BYC. A question so simple yet it helps make things super clear to the yoga student.
Once you ask it, it’s way easier to extract the benefits from your pose. Plus you’ll know if you’re doing it right.
Ready to dive in?
Let’s look at triangle pose.
Asking the right questions gets great results in return.
Go ahead and perform triangle pose. Do it the way you always practice it. Switch sides and go again.
Write down some notes about how it felt.
Now let’s try again. This time, we’ll follow your new checklist.
“What is the intent of the pose?”
This is my addition. If you answer this first, I believe the rest will come to you with ease.
Triangle pose is a side bend. Nothing more. The goal is to bend sideways from your waist. Now that that’s clear, we can move on to the next bullet point.
“Which joints are being affected?”
If you look at triangle pose from the ground up, you’ll get a clear picture.
Look at what should be going on with your ankles, legs, hips, spine, and so on.
Now that your skeleton is doing all the right things, look at your muscles.
“Which muscles are contracting?”
Look at triangle pose again. Ask yourself which muscles are getting smaller or shorter?
Since your legs are straight, the muscles in the front of your legs should contract and be toned.
When you bend sideways to your right, the muscles on your right side should contract and be toned.
Work your way up to your skull. Contract and tone the correct muscles as you go.
“Which muscles are getting longer?”
Look at triangle one more time to determine which muscles are getting longer.
Since the fronts of your legs are contracted and toned, the backs of your legs should be long and lean.
It’s the same thing for the left side of your body. If you’re side bending to your right, your left side should be long and lean.
Look for all the muscles in triangle that should be lengthened.
“Can you expand your chest?”
If your chest is caved in, it’s going to be difficult to breathe. When that happens, stress levels go up. And you don’t want that during your yoga practice.
Lifting your chest will help your breathing and reduce stress. Do your best so you can take full, deep breaths.
You may have to back out of your pose a little bit to make this happen. But the payoff will be worth it.
“Can you make your pose a bandha?”
Bandha is an ancient word for “lock, hold, or tighten.”
Most of the time in hatha yoga you learn about three bandhas: Jalandara bandha (chin lock), moolha bandha (root lock), and Uddiyana Bandha (upward flying lock).
But in the context of the BYC, Dr. Long is talking about using your muscles to make your pose an entire lock.
One secret I share with my students is an easy way to make their poses into bandhas. I use the verbal cue, “try to make your yoga mat 1/18 of an inch longer.”
That cue gets you to activate your stabilizing leg muscles.
If you’re tired of feeling like you’re doing yoga on the unstable surface a surfboard, try this tip. Most of my students feel solid as a rock right away.
It’s easy to squeeze out a ton of benefit from all your yoga poses. And you can finally be at ease knowing you’re doing it right.
It just takes practice, practice, practice. And now you have an insider’s checklist to make it happen.
Grab a pen and paper and write down your five-bullet list. Keep it in front of you for quick access during your yoga practice.
Play with it. Have fun with it. And discover your yogic potential.
You’ve got this!
PS – for other great tips and tricks to take your pactice to a new level, take a look at our popular video downloads.