We rarely enter the yoga class in a “neutral state.” Our bodies have been biased into a particular position all night/day. If the class is first thing in the morning, we've likely spent the last 8 hours lying down, still so may feel a little rigid. Our heads likely clearer - when we sleep our thoughts get put on hold. If the class is in the evening we may feel a little tired, been sat all day flexed, and have the whole day swirling through our minds.
We start by setting an appropriate pose, one that we can comfortably spend a bit of time in, that feels good, that counters the effects of the position we've been in prior. Somewhere we can easily breathe in and feel relaxed in so we can settle and turn our focus inward onto self awareness. Body scanning and breath work are great tools to cultivate presence.
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Staying focussed will allow you to get the most out of the class/posture
Stay aware or your body, breath, technique, drishti, etc. avoid straining or creating more tensions/ injury. We can choose wether to go for 'that' option, to deepen, to back off, to tighten more or release a little, by listening to the sensations in your body and following your breath. You can learn so much about yourself by staying aware. Your habits, movement patterns, imbalances, restrictions etc.
Learn to focus within/amongst your mental chatter to hear your inner teacher, turning thoughts to constructive, not destructive, releasing mental negativity.
Staying focussed you'll have the opportunity to put your heart into the poses, dedicating, offering, learning how to deal with reactions, using the Asanas to clear and open yourself up. Overcome fears / barriers.
Aligning for optimal energy flow of the central nervous system and energetic body as you see it to be.
Best at the start or end of the class when still and fully focussed, we can set an intention for why we are here, what we'd like to achieve, or focus on a personal / yoga philosophy or spiritual concept that can resonate throughout the class and bring meaning.
How to translate the lessons you have learned on the mat into your real-life experience. Get to know yourselves, your patterns and relationship to the world through your poses.
In order to be the change we wish to see in the world, we first have to be aware / to know what we want to see changed...and then cultivate the strength to be it, through all our actions, words and agreements. In order to do this, we have to turn inside and nourish/transform ourselves as much as we offer out.
In each class, when we are moving the body or energy, we can focus on :
CONTRACTING ENERGY That which draws bones, joints and muscles closer together. This is an activating, yang principle. +
EXPANDING ENERGY: That which moves bones, muscles and joints farther apart. This is a releasing, opening, spacious yin principle. = both are always attempting to balance one another.
We always start at the FOUNDATION, neutralising first, grounding down then TRANSITIONING (contracting) through waves up the spine - into full EXPRESSION of the pose (expanding) Once you’ve opened up into the posture, we can refine further.
These sequential steps, will ensure that the posture remains in an optimised balance of strength and open space/communication throughout the muscular, joint, circulatory, nervous system (energy), lymph, mental, emotional and subtle bodies: uniting the body as a whole.
As you get proficient in a pose, you'll notice the nature of the work it requires from you changes. Your perception changes. What restricts you in a posture one day may not be an issue on another and something else may rise up.
Even if we were all slender Indian males which a good portion of our yoga postures were designed for, we'd still have our differences. Let's embrace them, be guided by them moving with a sense of ease and fluidity, whilst maintaining the tensegrity networks and respecting the natural movement of our joints!
Stay sensitive, focussed and stop anywhere along the path/progression that feels right for you. Instead of assuming a shape, we can set ourselves up for success by finding a comfortable and sustainable position with the key pose being the inspiration.
Work your edge/ let go - release places you’re gripping, recognise what’s most important and releasing whatever doesn’t serve that, finding strength in softness, vulnerability is strength.
Our bodies are dynamic, even “improper alignment” can be beneficial. We can train our body in a variety of ways so that our tissues are resilient. Improper alignment refers to what we may think of as a “misalignment” or a deviation from what traditional alignment dictates.
Use below's idea of progressions of the same pose building in difficulty. Find your own truth, growth and full expression.