Gymnasts and dancers have yoga balls for years to tone, strengthen and improve their bodies and flexibility. Recently you will even see Physical therapists have discovered that the yoga ball is also good for helping people through rehabilitation and wellness programs. For yoga practice, the ball can provide additional support for any moderate to more difficult movements lip hip openers, backbends and restorative poses. You will learn in yoga teacher trainingthat some yoga ball exercises can help provide support, improve balance and increase you flexibility.
Gain Flexibility & Strength
There are ways that your yoga teacher will show you how to use the yoga ball to help get more out of a routine. When practicing upward facing dog you can place both knees on the floor and slowly lean forward onto the ball. Roll your body forward until your hips are centered on the ball and both of your legs are straight. As you begin to inhale, press both of your hands into the ball and lift your chest up until both of your arms are straight. You can hold this position for up to 30 seconds before you move into downward facing dog. From your current position you can exhale and slowly roll your body forward while placing both of your hands on the floor in front of you. Slowly press both of your hells into the floor. Make sure that the ball is supporting your chest and your upper thighs. You can hold this pose up to 15 seconds. Continue by alternating between the two poses for the desired number of repetitions.
For more focus on a spinal rotation you can sit upright on the ball and extend both of your legs out in front of you. Begin by flexing your feet and placing both arms out to your side. Keep your back straight; rotate your torso to the left as you slowly reach toward your right foot. Bring yourself back to the neutral starting position and repeat on the other side. You can continue with up to 12 repetitions on each side.
Build Endurance & Balance
Yoga teacher training will show you how to use the yoga ball for Warrior I pose. Begin by standing over the ball with your left leg in front of you and your right leg behind you and lower yourself into a lunge position. Next, square your hips forward and inhale while sweeping both arms up and reaching toward the ceiling. Hold this pose for up to 15 seconds before moving on to Warrior II pose.
To begin Warrior II lower both of your arms onto your side and make them parallel to the floor. Rotate your hips to the side and hold for 10 seconds. From this point you can move into the Side Angle of back to Warrior I pose.
To begin Side Angle you can bring your left arm down and place it on the floor in front of your left leg. Slowly extend your right arm up toward the ceiling and stretch through the left side. Stay in this position for up to 12 seconds and then return to Warrior II. You can repeat this series beginning with Warrior I on the other side.
Finding the Right Ball
There are some major elements when looking for a yoga ball. The size of the ball will make a difference and you need to make sure that you choose the right size that will support your height and weight. There are some positions and movements where you may need to use a smaller ball than what you typically use. As a rule of thumb when you are sitting on a yoga ball your thighs should be parallel to the floor and in direct alignment with your hips. If you are taller than six feet find a ball that is 32 inches. If you are between six foot and five seven select a ball that is 30 inches. If you are shorter than five six use a ball that is 26 inches.
Through yoga teaching and combining traditional yoga poses with yoga ball practice will give you the ability to engage several large and small muscle groups and provide a full body workout in less time. These types of muscle toning exercises will increase your metabolism, burn fat and improve your flexibility which leaves you feeling stronger and calmer.
A yoga ball has been discussed in yoga teacher training as a tool or prop to use to remove the burden of full support in your core muscles and allows you to maintain the positions you may otherwise be too weak to hold for long periods of time. Practicing yoga with a ball can help you improve your balance and your posture while developing muscular strength, stability and flexibility.