There are many reasons to pursue a yoga practice. Perhaps you’re inflexible and would like to have more mobility throughout your body. Maybe you have recently had surgery and some gentle yoga poses will help heal the targeted area of surgery. Or maybe you’re an athlete and would like to use a yoga practice as an additional way to train your body. Have you ever heard the term functional yoga? What does it mean?
Whatever your reason, a functional yoga practice is a good approach to this form of movement. Functional Yoga is simply having a specific focus and intention for practicing yoga. Because there are so many styles and forms of yoga, you can choose the exact form that suits your needs. What does Functional Yoga mean to you?
Think about what you are needing in this present moment. There is probably a yoga style that will guide you toward your intended goal. Here are just a few ideas for a Functional Yoga practice followed by some poses you can practice.
In this practice, you will hold specific yoga poses for an extended time in order to release tension in bound-up parts of your body. By holding these yoga poses, you release connective tissue and fascia that causes pain, immobility, and dysfunction. This is a therapeutic style of yoga that is good for mild injuries and recovery from particular surgeries where scar tissue has formed in the body. It can simply be used, also, to gain more flexibility.
The idea of Yin Yoga is to disengage your muscles; come to complete relaxation. This allows for the bound-up areas of the body to slowly release to create greater mobility in that focused area. Yin Yoga also is a good practice for relieving mental stress due to its meditative qualities.
In Yin Yoga, Pigeon Pose can be held for 7 to 12 minutes on each leg in order to release tension in your tight hips. The release will result in more flexibility in your hips and hip flexors. Here’s how to practice this posture:
- Start on your hands and knees on a yoga mat.
- Slide your left knee toward your left wrist.
- Angle the left leg so your foot is pointing toward the right side of your mat (about 45 degrees).
- Keep your right leg extended straight behind you.
- Lower your upper body over the front leg and relax completely.
- Hold for 7 to 12 minutes in stillness.
- Repeat on the other side.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
This advanced style of yoga practice is highly disciplined. It caters to those who want to maximize their strength, flexibility, and overall mobility. This is a structured practice in which the practitioner performs the same sequence of poses at each lesson. With repetition, one experiences improvements in the advanced poses thereby enhancing the mind, body, and spirit.
Revolving Triangle Pose
With a steady Ashtanga Yoga practice, you will gain more flexibility through your body. Revolving Triangle pose targets your torso and your legs. You’ll experience greater mobility on your upper body and a good stretch in your hamstrings. Here’s how to perform this yoga posture:
- Stand on your yoga mat with your feet wide apart.
- Straighten both legs.
- Turn your left foot forward to face the front of your mat.
- Extend your arms outward so they are parallel to the floor.
- Reach out over your left leg.
- Tip your body so your left arm is reaching down toward your left leg and your right arm toward the ceiling.
- Rotate your entire torso to the left side of the room.
- Your right arm will now be reaching toward your left leg and your left arm will reach upward.
- Hold the posture for 5-10 breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
Related Article: Triangle Yoga Pose: (Utthita Trikonasana) – A Go To Asana For…
This style of yoga, based on the Iyengar Yoga philosophy, is considered a very good form of Functional Yoga. Within the practice, you focus intently on alignment and muscle engagement while performing your poses. One goal of Anusara is to guide you toward better posture, mobility, strength, flexibility, and overall greater functionality of the body.
Related Article: Yoga For Better Posture: Maneuvers & Stretches To Try!
A deep lunge practiced in Anusara will involve focusing on the alignment of the legs while creating a deep stretch for your hip flexors and thighs. Here is how to practice Crescent Lunge:
- Come to a kneeling position with your left foot stepped forward (like you’re genuflecting).
- Slide your left foot slightly forward so that your knee is aligned behind your heel.
- Slowly lunge forward by dipping your hip toward the floor.
- This will realign your knee over your ankle bone.
- Keep your right leg extended behind you.
- Hold the posture for 10-20 breaths.
- Perform the lunge on the other side.
Final Thoughts On “Functional” Yoga:
These are just a few examples of Functional Yoga styles. Take a moment to decide what you need physically, mentally, or spiritually. This will help guide you toward the perfect yoga form that suits your specific needs and personal intention.