“Yoga is your Task Master”, I often tell my enthusiastic trainees….
What does that mean? It means that ‘Yoga’ in all its wisdom, will work on your body, mind, and ‘stuff’. You do not need to add yourself to the [Hatha] yoga that you do. The poses, and your mindset do the work for you. If you are familiar with the “No Pain, No Gain’ marketing indoctrination around your exercise, you will have some unlearning to do when you start yoga.
I am deliberately personalising Yoga when I speak of it, because in my experience, it is as though Yoga has a mind of its own. The requirement of us as students, is that we yield or surrender to ‘Yoga’. Yielding and surrendering are not popular concepts in the West. We are encultured to compete, lead, conquer, win, achieve, dominate, control, and a whole lot more.
Adding ourselves – our own effort – to yoga is a little like thinking we know the Mind of God. How can we know the wisdom of the body. How on earth can we possibly hear and know all that we need. How can we foresee what is coming and prepare for it? We can’t. In our short-sightedness and lack of overview, we can only work on one aspect of ourselves. If our belief systems are not up-to-date, and if we apply yoga poses with an ‘achievement’, or ‘conquest’ mindset, we risk burning out, or injuring part of us. I have seen this time and time again.
Yoga is most effective when you relax your nervous system so there is not over-stimulation. Then be mindful of any extra effort, and ‘letting down’ is essential as well.
Your poses should be relaxed, but active – working you just outside your usual range of movement and usual comfort zone.
‘Rules’ of Yogic Practice
Work your Yoga Poses at the truthful level of your energy and ability.
Enter Hatha Yoga with your mind set to ‘enquiry’. Make each pose an enquiry as to what is going on, and how you feel. You do not need to answer or problem-solve. Just listening and observing with kindness creates a loving relationship with self.
Your breath is a really honest indicator of what is going on. If your breath changes too much, becomes harsh, then you have pushed yoga. Yoga will push back. It follows an irrefutable Law. So, listen for your breathing. Make sure it is soft, not raspy. Catch yourself when you are in the habit of holding your breath.
Seek to be ‘Firm, but Calm’ in your Yoga Poses….Active but Relaxed. That will make your Yoga sustainable and nourishing for your body, mind and self.
Like to find out more? Yoga Instructor Training is available online, or group from late February 2014. Yoga Teacher Training resumes the next round in 2016. Find out more from Susan Wanmer, Yoga Leader and Senior Teacher firstname.lastname@example.org