It was about five years ago, I had been practicing yoga for two years and was still on my "I WILL BE GUMBY OR DIE TRYING" kick. Ashtanga or any sort of power Vinyasa based yoga was my only style and my goal was to achieve asana perfection every single time.
I was attending a yoga studio in St John, New Brunswick (did my final SLP placement there, met Andrew... all around good times!) and was a little off-put by the owner's "yoga mom" type personality. I should say, how HE catered to the yoga mom's out there, flirting, flexing his muscles and ignoring little old non yoga-mom moi. Even though I was determined to hate his class (and well hey, I never went back did I?), he did teach me one very important thing- just to let go.
During a seated forward fold he came over and started commanding that I back off, back up and stop trying so hard. To allow the asana to become the Journey instead of the destination (he didn't say exactly that, but that's my interpretation). I will admit, forward folds have forever been difficult, even after seven years of practice I barely grab my toes. I used to work SO HARD just to be able to fold, bend, push, hold on as much as possible in the first breath. Very one breath-one asana type feel.
Instead of practicing safely, the one-breath per "asana is a destination" type practice can be scarily dangerous. Popping in and out of a posture can push our muscles beyond what they should achieve, resulting in overstretching or even pulling and tearing of muscle tissue.
(pre-yoga class a few years ago out at Hubbard's studio)
After that yoga class, combined with a few other insights over the years, I take most asanas one breath at a time. This means that I don't even try for "my" full version of the posture on the first breath, ever. I'll stop before I go as far as I think I can, take a breath allowing my body to settle and accept that my body will gradually make it there. From downward dog, cobra, upward dog... you name it.
It allows me to practice more mindfully and safely.
A few thoughts to consider:
- With every inhale lengthen your spine, moving outward and upward
- With every exhale relax, let go into the posture- one millimetre more.
What is the most important yoga lesson you've ever learned?
article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com