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Musings from the Mat: Are you Practicing Yoga or Making an Asana Out of Yourself

July 2, 2017

Once upon a time, there was no standardization of pose names; the same pose might be called different names by different teachers or poses could go by the same name. Be alert for these confusions. Being descriptive creates better communication skills from teachers and offering the sanskrit name lessens the confusion as there is less transliteration.  The key to a successful pracitce is in the adaptation and application of the ancient discipline of yoga to contemporary lifestyles, thereby enhancing health, longevity and quality of life.

Yoga begins when you let go of ideology and accept the self in its natural state.  You are formed from this wonder – the body, the breath, the heartbeat, and all of nature.  Yoga is a reminder of what you ALREADY are/have.  Buddha said, “Don’t take what I say as truth, explore it!”

 

  • Move within the natural boundaries of the body and breath.

  • Don’t push, invite. Let it unfold, let go and love it. Find peace in your pose. Asana needs softness to receive (not too much strength).

  • Asana is in service to our breath. Surrender to the breath. Asana is breath moving.

  • Your practice can be tainted the way you “think” your pose should be. People are addicted to the practice.

  • Breathe first then move into the pose. The breath carries you in and out of the pose.

  • The body will align itself around the breath.

  • Ujjayi sound gives you good feedback. Ujjayi is that natural breath when sleeping. It’s life! All asana is with the ujjayi breath. Most people have a stronger exhale. Make sure the inhale is just as strong; let me hear it! Inhale deeply and accept that YOU are the source. The inhale and exhale are even sounding. 

  • The appearance of the posture has nothing to do with yoga. (Non-attachment)

  • It’s about alignment and safety. If it feels good, it’s correct.

  • Adapt the movement – modify or intensify

  • Effort not struggle. Sthira Sukhum (strong/soft, effort/ease). This applies to breath as well – inhale is the ease and exhale is the effort.

  • There is no perfect pose. (Do not imitate someone else’s practice. Use your practice to discover yourself.) Poses unfold from the inside out.

  • We are not trying to get somewhere…you already are somewhere.

  • Asana has no purpose other than to serve you.

  • Asana is whole body prayer to reality.


Your Yoga
Beginning students want to do advanced poses and advanced students want to do simple poses very well! They are a bit obsessive in the beginning but that relaxes and then they can practice actually, naturally and non-obsessively.

Only do yoga because you want to. If you need a little something, you do a little something. It is better to practice for a short time daily than a long practice weekly. You are God realized without it - so it’s not a necessity to do yoga. The comings and goings of the divine are not dependent on an asana practice. However, if you choose to practice asana because it feels good then: 

 

  • Practice actually, naturally and not obsessively.

  • Practice 20 min daily because you love it…not because you “should” (that’s addiction).

  • Yoga is what you do when you’re inspired!

  • Get your practice in before anything else.

  • We practice to feel better so we can feel better.

  • Don’t get trapped by the “improvement” system of the social mind.

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