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Yoga breathing exercises can help improve endurance and stamina. When exerting in sports or exercise we often hold the breath as a way to create strength. Yoga trains the body to create strength through breathing control. Holding the breath at points of exertion takes a great deal of energy that could be used during long sets or matches. Learning the correct way while doing a yoga pose is simple. Exhale during the execution of a pose until you feel the muscles’ full length of stretch (maximum resistance). Never hold your breath. Breathe normally and listen to the body. Hold for 30 seconds, then release the pose slowly. By constant practice of yoga poses you’ll soon apply breathing techniques in everyday routines. A simple spine twist is excellent for rotational sports. It can help increase needed flexibility of the shoulders and back and hips. Remember to apply the breathing technique to this pose. Begin the spine twist by sitting on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Keeping the spine straight, bend the left leg placing the left foot on the outside of the right knee. Now, place the left hand on the floor behind you with your arm straight and the right elbow bent. Positioned on the outside of the left thigh place the right hand on the left hip. Slowly exhale while turning the head and upper body to the left, looking over the left shoulder. Pressure from the right arm should keep the left leg stationary while pressure from the left arm and torso gives you the twist. Stronger use of both arms increases the twist. Hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat twist on the opposite side. A total body conditioning and flexibility routine is essential for the avid tennis player. Yoga techniques could be the edge you need in developing your game.

When Trace Bonner launched Holy Cow in West Ashley’s South Windermere Shopping Center last summer, she didn’t know what to expect. Now she’s teaching 16 classes a week and adding another instructor. And while she credits the center’s success in part to its cute cow logo and convenient location, there’s no question that there’s a revived interest in yoga across America. The ancient Indian practice of yoga first arrived in the US at the beginning of the 20th century, but didn’t really catch on until 1969 with chants at Woodstock. Now, after being overshadowed by the aerobics craze in the ’80s and early ’90s, yoga is once again attracting followers, with many looking for relief from ailments and injuries or from the stress of daily life. Baby boomers, worn out from years of jogging and bouncy workouts, are back on board. But interest is growing with other age groups, too, from college students to senior citizens to celebrities. The surge in interest is being fueled partly by doctors’ growing acceptance of yoga’s healing potential. Mainstream medicine has adopted yoga as a gentle therapeutic method for treating a number of illnesses, so more and more doctors are referring their patients to yoga. Initial trials have shown yoga can help people with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma and cardiac risk factors.

At one time it seemed that yoga was little more than a dated hippie fad, rather like the lava lamp. But now this ancient health system is back in vogue. Celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, and Julia Roberts and Sting are not shy about advocating the mental and physical benefits of the discipline. It is cool to carry around a little purple mat and tie yourself up in knots in local gyms and draughty church halls. It seems yoga is everywhere, and nowhere is it more omnipresent than on the net. Should you wish to learn more about Sting’s views on the subject, for instance, you might care to read the in-depth interview available at the White Lotus website. You’ll find a glossily professional web page which features authoritative articles on the many different forms of yoga – and the debate about which is the best. You can also access a shop selling books and videos, or click through selection of celebrity interviews. Share the well-illustrated interview with Sting, in which he expresses regret at not having started yoga earlier. But he adds that, if anything, the exercise seems to be reversing the ageing process. This view is echoed by fellow megastar Madonna. Indeed, the title song, Ray Of Light, in her best-selling album incorporates a traditional yoga chant.

Kneel on a thick carpet or blanket with your knees close together. Sit back on your heels and stretch up from your hips, balancing your head well so that a line drawn through ear, shoulder, Active London elbow and hip would be straight. You should sit up in this posture for greatest benefits. Most yoga students are familiar with this posture. Lie flat, face down, chin on floor. Make your hands into fists and push them either under your thighs to help the lift, or place them alongside your body. Exhale and lift legs from your hips, tightening your buttocks and stretching your legs up and back. Hold position for as long as possible, exhale, return to starting posture and repeat. Lie face down, legs stretched back, buttocks tightened and knees pulled back. Place hands just below shoulders, exhale and lift head, then chest, shoulders and torso, pushing down from your pelvis and straightening your arms. From the back of your head to your tailbone, your body should be curved back. Push shoulders back and down. Push head back more. Stay like this as long as possible with normal breathing. Come down very slowly, and relax. Kneel on the floor and sit back, bringing both feet to the right of your hips. Straighten your right arm, bring it across your body and turn to the left. Place your hand, palm down under your left knee. Exhale, turn your body more to the left and clasp your right elbow with your left hand, from the back. Turn your head and gaze over your right shoulder. Fold position for a few breaths and then twist and look back over your left shoulder. Shoulders should be at right angles to the body. Come back to starting position and repeat on other side. You should do this posture once every hour if you have lower back pain.

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