Yoga Ball

The term yoga ball is one of those things which should probably explode on the page the second that it is written. It is a bit like using a term like: slimming blubber. Ok, maybe it’s not quite that much of a misnomer, but there really isn’t any such thing as a yoga ball. You could read every traditional text on yoga and find absolutely nothing about a ball of any sort – at least until the mid 90’s. But, there just happens to be a place in yoga for the use of a ball, but the ball should actually be called a ” prop.” There are some forms of yoga that make extensive use of props, but using a big rubber ball is a relatively new phenomenon.

And for good reason. Learning yoga, especially if you are wickedly out of shape can be pretty tough. Certain forms of yoga, like Hatha (which means ‘forceful’) and ashtanga can also be virtually impossible if you aren’t already in pretty good shape, not to mention relatively thin, and probably young. So for those well past middle age and beginners who are starting from really ground zero or below, the use of certain props may be necessary even if the style doesn’t call for it at all. It just so happens that this is precisely how the use of exercise balls entered the realm of the yoga classroom.

The ball, when used in yoga, is there to minimize the position to the point where someone with limited flexibility and strength can actually begin to work on the position without falling over, breaking or otherwise injuring something. Torn things lead to bad meditation after. Downward dog is wicked hard to do if your hamstrings are tight, and even folks who can touch the floor with their fingers will grimace while in this pose. The ball is used to take some of the pressure off the hamstrings and generate what might be called a ” downward puppy.” A much lighter version of the pose that a beginner can actually hold for more than a half second before exploding.

I’m just trying to be humorous, please dont think I look down even an inch at anyone who uses a ball for yoga. As a matter of fact I could probably have used something bigger and squishier when I started yoga. The real key to yoga is sticking with it consistently enough and for long enough that you end up being able to do the poses without props, and then actually lengthen into each poses even further. If you need to start with small props, you’ll eventually get to using no props. If you need to start with big props you’ll eventually move on to smaller props. Everyone has to start somewhere, and getting started is more important than where you start.

So, while there may still be no such thing as a yoga ball, per se, there are certainly good uses for an exercise ball during a yoga session. If you’ve never tried yoga before at all, you would probably do well to check out some of the other online resources (with pictures and everything) that show many yoga poses using a ball as a prop, or a class based on the use of props such as the ball. Just remember that (at least eventually) you’re trying to get to the point where you’re just doing yoga, and letting the kids play with the big rubber ball.

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