How to Do Floor Stretches in Hatha Yoga

Along with being a physical discipline yoga is also a philosophy that originated centuries ago in India. There are eight branches of yoga – Hatha yoga, Bhakti yoga, Guru yoga, Jnana yoga, Karma yoga, Mantra yoga, Raja yoga, and Tantra yoga, which also includes kundalini yoga. Hatha yoga places equal balance on the overall well being on the body, including the physical, mental and spiritual aspects.

Benefits of Doing Hatha Yoga Stretches

Not many people realize the benefits that regular stretching has on their body. When they think of workouts, they usually visualize intensive cardio vascular exercises or heavy weight training. However, what most people do not realize is that not incorporating stretching in your exercise regime can limit the size and growth of your muscles.

All muscles are covered by a protective sheath of tough tissue known as fascia. Stretching the fascia using hatha yoga floor stretches gives the muscles beneath a greater scope to grow, making them longer and leaner. When you don’t stretch your muscles, lactic acid gets trapped within it, leading to muscular fatigue. Hatha yoga floor stretches can help your body recover faster from muscle soreness and develop the ability to withstand physical stress.

What to Keep in Mind When Doing Hatha Yoga Floor Stretches

Mornings are the best time to practice hatha yoga floor stretches. If mornings are not suitable for you, early evenings would also be fine. These stretches are best done on an empty stomach, within 2-3 hours of your last meal. Before bedtime, avoid doing floor stretches that are over stimulating, as it may lead to a disruption in your sleep cycle.

When doing hatha yoga stretches, be aware of your body and understand what it is trying to say to you. Work with it slowly and never try to push it into a posture, if it is not ready. Every body has its limits, which need to be respected. Over a period of time, you will be able increase its limits, but its not going to happen suddenly

If you’ve recently been through a surgery, do not get back to hatha yoga floor stretches without consulting your doctor. Also, exercises should be avoided in case you suspect an inflamed appendix or internal bleeding.

Breathing in Hatha Yoga Floor Stretches

Breathing is very important during all yoga postures, including hatha yoga floor stretches. You should be very conscious of your breathing pattern and inhalation and exhalation should be done slowly and deeply. Unless specifically instructed to do so, never breathe through the mouth.

For most beginners, it becomes quite a chore to remember breathing when doing the floor stretches. One is so focused on getting the posture right that they overlook breathing. Whatever you do, never hold your breath. Doing so will be detrimental to the entire purpose of doing the hatha yoga floor stretches. You will find it difficult to hold your posture, and it will put tremendous strain on your body. Try to utilize as much of your breathing capacity as possible. Exhale deeply, emptying your lung of the impure air, thereby making more space for pure and fresh air. There is a co-ordination between breathing and your floor stretches. When you expand your abdominal and chest cavities you inhale, and when you contract these cavities, you exhale.

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