I’m about to make a shocking revelation for a yoga teacher. It’s a BIG one, so you might want to take a seat before you keep reading. OK….are you ready? Here goes:
There. I’ve said it, so let it sink in for a minute. Pause and reflect on these words because you know what? YOU shouldn’t care that much about yoga poses either, and I’m going to share with you why that is.
You see, yoga is a system that is focused on learning. Learning how to link your breath with your mind and body, and learning how to come back to your body over and over again. As long as the poses you’re practicing are safe for YOUR individual needs, then you’re doing exactly what you should be doing. What I care about is that I’m practicing poses that give me a way to check in with what is happening in my body at that moment. And I want the same for you.
And this matters why?
Being connected to our bodies allows us to become aware of what we’re feeling, what is going on around us, and where in the body we might need to focus some special attention (i.e., if you notice you’re experiencing pain or tension in your low back).
When we’re disconnected, we’re more likely to miss out on our lives — we might find ourselves forgetting things, feeling restless, feeling empty inside, feeling a lack of purpose in life, feeling uncertain and not being able to connect with other people.
Knowing this, it’s easy to see why this matters: If you are not able to tap in to how you feel, then you will not know how to act on your own behalf and make the best decisions for you.
Great…so how does this apply to my yoga practice?
When you find yourself on your yoga mat, you can practice learning how to connect to your body by trying some of the following things:
- Pay attention to what your breath feels like as you move from pose to pose. For example, when you’re in a twist, where does the breath gravitate to? Does that change when you move into a different shape, like a forward fold?
- Pick a pose that you do regularly and get curious about it. For example, what did it feel like yesterday compared to how it feels today? Do you notice any changes in the variations you’re choosing to do or the props you are using?
- By the way, I think it’s fun to experiment with different props in poses. Sometimes, I will change the height of my block with a pose to see how that changes the way the pose feels for me…Triangle is one I love to do this in, because I’ve often discovered that I need to take the block to a higher height in order to keep my alignment where it needs to be.
- Take time to notice how you feel before you begin your practice, and then again as you end your practice. Has anything changed?
- When you’re in poses that you’re holding for a few breaths, notice which body parts are keeping you grounded. For example, your feet in Mountain Pose. Your bum in Boat Pose.
- In Savasana (Corpse Pose or Final Relaxation), place one hand on the heart and one on the belly, and notice how the breath moves in these spaces.
When you take the time to approach your yoga practice with the intention of connecting to your body, it doesn’t matter what your yoga poses look like. Because when you are connected to your body, you are aware of when you move into a shape that doesn’t feel good or doesn’t feel safe… and you adjust. You adjust back to a place where you’re breathing freely, feeling good and staying connected.
With this structure in place, you’ll realize it doesn’t matter which poses you can or can’t do. You’ll realize that you can do all that you need to, using the variations that meet you where you are in this moment.
Namaste and Have a Sparkling Day!