When I meet new friends whom ask what i do for a living, or have newbies in class I commonly hear ‘ I can’t do yoga…I cannot touch my toes. Im so stiff!’ It seems even if we ‘not overtly trying to be a pretzel’ we re still focusing on physical and investing in trying to hit a pose.
I can only speak for the way I teach and be in line with what I teach- but would like to express that for me, the asanas for the body could be compared to perspectives for the mind.
In even thinking about them, let alone attempting them, they draw our attention to certain areas of our bodies. We then have a mental and emotional response to them and it’s here at this point that we either practice yoga or a form of exercise. The difference is intention. It is this that either makes use of every experience as a chance to become more self aware and decide whether to engage with the present moment or whether to retract (contract our muscles) or work them in isolation. For me, Yoga is state of embodied consciousness where we exist in a state of union firstly within ourselves and ultimately with everything around us.
But coming back to asana- Even before asanas are ‘got into’ Our responses to being invited to fold, move or simply feel where we are at that point in time is an opportunity to come into a state of union, to bring about a conscious interaction between our bodies and minds. Do we use the invitation to take time to listen, feel and allow? Or push, force, or over exert to make a shape? And for whose benefit? Even for myself whom maybe considered more bendy than most, I continue to observe the asanas I use in my morning practice, the effect they have physically, mentally and emotionallly on me, the ones I stay longer in with ease and the ones I find resistance towards.
Tip for your next yoga class- be as fully present (sensing) as much as you can physically as you approach the asana, are in it as much as you can be without strain, and as you come out of it. Be as observant with the thoughts and emotional responses you have to the asana as you can. You may discover that most of the discomfort is in your mind as the body merely senses but it is the mind that decides whether the sensation falls into your definition of it a pleasure or pain. in being mindful, your yoga practice may simply highlight that those shoes you wore yesterday are really not helping your back and calves be as relaxed as they could be! Flexibility is not the only thing a practice can offer.
There is so much more than the physical achievement, there is also the playfulness that invites a deeper exploration of the ultimate expression of yoga, until every aspect of our being is acknowledged and celebrated. This is what I hint at and find inspiration and joy in, and invite you to join me in this too x pls note I’m on my teachers retreat 24th June- 2nd july but check out my cover teachers and videos online, see you soon urbanyogis xx
Seeing things from a different perspective-