To an experienced practitioner we understand that the yoga postures, even with their specific names, are only guides along a certain path. They are not finished products and will continue to benefit you. There is no posture to be obtained only benefits to be revealed. The only thing we seek to obtain is to be 100% present within our body as we move through the yoga postures, opening, strengthening, lengthening, healing, restructuring. We learn to be present to how our body transforms. In any posture, there is always something more that can be transitioned through in each and every yoga posture and benefits that exceed our expectations.
What it is we are actually doing in “yoga.” What are the yoga postures all about?
Think of yoga asanas, or postures, as a ski hill. We all go down the same hill. Some take the bunny slope and others take the steeper trails. The hill is the same. This is why you see photos of people in Standing Bow Pulling Pose, some with their back stiff and straight and foot barely over their hip and others with their back nicely curved and leg way up over their head. It’s the same pose just different levels, same beauty.
The benefits are the same no matter what level one practices at.
Every advanced posture starts with a basic move. Just like the ski hill, learning to stand on your skis is the first step to conquering the hill. If you’re wanting to learn a one legged posture, then learning to stand on two feet without falling over must be mastered first.
Yoga teachers won’t expect you to reach completion, but rather be conscious of your movements. This is why all levels of practice benefit the same. It’s the process of what you are doing that activates the practice of yoga.
Hatha Yoga. In every yoga posture there are two forces at work, hence the meaning of Ha-tha, sun and moon. There is strength and flexibility, the agonist and antagonist muscle reactions. One muscle contracts while another, or others in a muscle group, relax. This happens in every yoga pose.
There is also the compression or tunicate effect. Organs muscles and tissue are compressed and squeezed in many yoga postures. The idea is a squeezing and releasing of tissue as if ringing out a dirty towel. The compression forces fluid out, and on the release, allows fresh blood to come through. I’ve found these compression aspects to be of very high value in my practice.
No matter how in-depth or uncomfortable a yoga posture is, they all become the same when you approach them carefully with mindfulness. Think of mindfulness in yoga postures like driving your car at night going around a blind corner. If you go too fast you could collide with an unforeseen obstacle.
The proverbial man in meditation IS the clear depiction of yoga. One pointed focus. Whether sitting in silence or practicing your body movements with music. It’s that deep inner focus and attention to what is being done now, in this moment which provides your lessons.
I’ve taught beginners who are masters at mindfulness and so called masters who are get caught up in expectation.
It’s the path of mindfulness we seek.
Any gymnast or dancer can do “poses” pretty easy. That’s not yoga.
It takes practice….lots of it. By the way, that’s why we call it a yoga “practice.” Keep it up.
For a more in-depth look at this process, please attend one of my new ONLINE YOGA CLASSES beginning in April! For my first students there will be a significant discount for joining.