What is the difference between jogging and doing yoga exercise? Answer: the iPod! A serious yoga practitioner will not find the merit of using an iPod while practicing yoga, as it may clash with concentration. In order to do yoga poses correctly and benefit from them, the practitioner has to concentrate in balancing the stretches and strength of all the muscles involved.
When one lacks concentration or focus, the muscles under-stretch and the body does not get the benefit of the pose (asana) that is being done. Worse still, he/she may get hurt at one part of the body when that same part, or the interrelated part, is not kept properly stretched. Ironically when one is over focusing on only one part of the muscle(s), some other parts of the body can become distressed.
For instance, some people complain of getting very tired arms when doing virabhardrasana II (a.k.a. the Warrior Pose – Figure 1). This happens because the focus of the stretch goes mainly to the legs and hips and the shoulders lose the grip. Thus the arms get over tired before completing the duration of holding the pose because the strong muscles try to control the pose and the weak ones give way.
When doing an asana, the practitioner has to maintain all muscle stretches that are required in that particular pose, literally from head to toe (or in yoga it’s more often “from toes to head”).
In the book The Tree of Yoga, Mr. BKS Iyengar wrote: “Focusing on one point is concentration. Focusing on all points at the same time is meditation.”
So how can one do a full yoga pose without over-tiring other parts of the body while focusing on one or more points that are being taught in that particular class? By maintaining a single stretch from the feet to the head and not losing awareness on other muscles. This is when concentration, focus, and awareness are put to work, and the iPod left in the locker.
Keep calm, keep focused and concentrate.