How many times have you been in an asana class and found yourself faking your way through a pose that you did not know how to do? This is very common in fast-paced studio classes, and it is the cause of injury in many yogis.
Long before Yoga studios began to appear in every town, learning the asanas took years of dedicated study. A student would work with one teacher over many years, combining formal education with self-study. Ultimately, the student owned and was responsible for their own practice.
Fear can drive your asana practice, or your asana practice can drive fear from your life.
Sometimes people avoid certain poses, ones in which they don’t look their best or are afraid of hurting themselves in. They focus instead on the poses they know well and never look beyond them. But staying within your comfort zone is a sure way to limit progression.
Yoga asana is training for life. Use this time to overcome fear on your mat and it will pay off in the rest of your life. Focus on aligning your breath with your movements and lining up your muscles and bones the way they are naturally designed. Begin with this foundation regularly and a pose that once seemed very difficult will soon be part of your daily practice.
By Myra Lewin
The idea that purusha, or divine consciousness, exists within you can be challenging to wrap your head around at first. Understanding and, more importantly, experiencing that it is embedded in every aspect of your being can require some time.
If you have struggled to recognize the divine within, perhaps it is easier to consider it in terms of creative energy. Think about a time when you were immersed in a project that you truly enjoyed. The “flow” you experienced allowed you to enjoy simply being in that moment with no attachment to the outcome. That leads to vitality and bliss, a sign that you are connected to purusha.
One thing about the ego is that it likes to feel right, even if it is not. It can be indignant and urgent, clouding the way toward an outcome grounded in sattva for all involved. Yoga is the gift that allows us to break through the ego’s façade and live our truth.
A good indication that you’re being directed by your ego is when you feel stubborn or that you have to justify, explain or defend. Direction from purusha, or the God of your heart, is gentle, less insistent and more loving. It is quieter than the loud voice of the ego, so often requires a shift in perspective to hear. Sometimes the simple act of changing our physical perspective can bring about this shift in the mind. This is the wisdom of inversions.
The days are growing colder and the nights longer, signaling a time to pause, go inside and look back upon the year. This act of conscious reflection of the year behind allows you to see where you can make space in the new one.
This is the time of year for inversions. Not only do they bring increased prana and blood flow to your crown and heart chakras, but inversions also encourage new perspective so you can move ahead with a new sense of yourself.
Make room for fresh perspective and new beginnings. Inversions are a great way to move out stagnant energy and break old patterns. Use this guide to practice inversions safely and effectively in your own home.
1. Legs up the wall: rejuvenating, cooling, calming
2. Walking legs up the wall: rejuvenating, warming, invigorating
Start on your hands and knees, pressing your feet against the wall. Keep your knees below the hips, wrists below the shoulders. Lift your sit bones up and back, coming into a shortened downward dog position. Begin walking your feet up the wall. Relax your head and neck completely as you look at the wall.
Work toward creating a 90 degree angle between your upper and lower body, keeping your wrists directly below your shoulders. Press your feet into the wall and your hands into the mat. Keep your feet flexed and extend out through your heels while bringing the balls of your feet toward your body. In the beginning, you may start with your knees bent while pressing your feet into the wall, but work toward straight legs.
Be sure to engage your pelvic floor muscles (located at the base of the abdomen, just above the pubic bone). If you feel this pose in your lower back, the pelvic floor may not be active. You can correct this by extending your sit bones toward the ceiling to engage the pelvic floor.
Breathe here for 20 breaths, or up to 5 minutes.
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