It's in weeks like this that my learning of yoga expands.
Let me explain...
I've noted before that I don't completely have a handle on yoga philosophy and history. The occasional tip toe into the work of Patanjali and his Yoga Sutras has been as far as I've gone. Cracking open and glancing at the eight-limbed path has maybe been as far as I've gone. On a superficial level, I understand.
But this week's chosen practice lead me to dive deeper.
Not really knowing where my practice would take me. As usual, I picked a video name that spoke to me - Steadiness and Ease.
Who doesn't want that in their lives!
This was the first time practicing with Shivani Wells on doyogawithme.com. Her approach was easy to follow as she was meticulous in cueing each and every pose and the sensation it brought forth. She emphasized following your breath, which I so welcome!
However, the most interesting learning this week was how Shivani structured her class. She spoke of using Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra as her inspiration for practice. Specifically, chapter two at verse 46.
I had no idea that the Yoga Sutras had chapters and is read by means of verses.
See - I have lots to learn.
So, Shivani spoke of "Sthira Sukham Asanam”, which translated means “steadiness and ease”.
I dove in to some online research and found an excellent modern take on the verse but also a more traditional perspective reading…
"2.46 The posture (asana) for Yoga meditation should be steady, stable, and motionless, as well as comfortable, and this is the third of the eight rungs of Yoga."
Throughout the practice, I was tasked to keep asanas steady and with ease. It is actually quite difficult to do, particularly in the more challenging poses.
Overall, I appreciated the opportunity to not only practice but to incorporate the early teachings of Patanjali for the duration of the class. This was a perspective I’d never seen or tried before. What a great tool to have in my teacher’s toolbox. Ok - I still need to learn more about the Yoga Sutras to be able to do that!
Furthermore, this video sequence provided two other new and interesting perspectives. Briefly, they were Shivani’s ability to cue visual foci and a unique way to move into side plank. For the former, I was positioned in downward facing dog when I heard a cue to look between my two big toes. I’m certain I’ve never thought through where my eyes look during asanas. Cool! Something to take away!
For the latter, the sequence was a perfect example of steadiness and ease. Side plank on a good day is challenging but with the added leg lift and “yogi toe lock”, it was sure to test my ability to stay steady and at ease. Take a crack at it yourself, to see what I mean!
Back to the basics. Time to take another attempt at learning more about Patanjali!
Sometimes you need yoga, just to be yoga.
For me and this blog, it is at times challenging to keep my head out of the practice. That being, thinking to technically about the practice as opposed to being present in the movements, breath and with myself.
This week’s practice took two run throughs. Earlier in the week, I practiced not realizing that yoga needed to be just yoga this week. Come to write a blog post and I can say with certainty that I had NO recollection of what I did nor what I wanted to write about.
I checked out.
And rightly so.
It’s been a busy, hectic (read: somewhat stressful) beginning of September. Obviously I needed to check out.
Do yoga for yoga sake.
When it came to round number two (and checking my notes from earlier in the week), I was able to recall and write about what I was thinking, feeling and learning with this week’s practice!
In a nutshell, September. Oh - September. It brings on such memories of starting new things and getting back into routine. I was inspired to try a September kind-of practice with Adriene’s Dorm Room Yoga. I’ve been out of post secondary school for over 10 years but I couldn’t resist a try!
It was not so much about the physical practice this week but more about her statements and guiding words.
"getting your money’s worth"
"not ignoring how we get in and out of things but considering that part of the practice too”
"experience the space between the poses"
Adriene’s words were instrumental to staying focused on the practice (I did that well this week!) and realizing that it is so easy to just run through the poses.
This fits well with a cool program I’m taking part in right now called Everyday Mindfulness. I’m taking it for personal reasons for quick little hints and tricks to be present and not get hung up on the past nor anxious about the future. But many of the mindfulness concepts align well with the yoga philosophies. I can see myself carrying these concepts over to my teaching practice.
Thank goodness I took the time to practice twice this week and get these golden nuggets again. I would have to say that I am pretty proud that my unconscious self was able to get what it needed during my first practice and my intellectual, blog writing self got second fiddle this week. Regardless, it all turned out in the end.
But sometimes you just need yoga, for yoga sake,
You’d think I’d have oodles of time to do yoga on vacation.
Well, that was not the case for this summer vacation. I won’t bore you with the details but the only yoga thing I could do while on vacation was one restorative pose.
I really needed a restorative pose!
Sitting in a car for many hours and constantly twisting around to face two carseats (okay, two kids), was pretty darn hard on my back…
My answer was…
Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)!
The morning after we arrived home from our journey, I settled in to the pose as the kids wondered around their rooms that they missed. I’m not sure how long I stayed in the pose until my littlest saw the opportunity to jump on my stomach. Nonetheless, I had my one sample of yoga during the week.
And thank goodness for it!
I really enjoy Adriene’s take on legs up the wall so take it for a five minute spin.
Circulation is back and yoga will be too,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.