This Week in Yoga: Precision & Stability

Hi, Yoga Friends,

If you practiced in the studio with me a couple weeks ago, you might remember our focus was precision and stability.  Precision is the quality of being accurate, and stability refers to firmness, solidity, steadiness, secureness, & strength.

Being precise about how we position our base, the foundation of any yoga pose (made up of any combination of our feet, knees, hands, forearms, head or sitting bones) has direct bearing on the amount of stability we experience during the time we’re there.  Giving each posture a good amount of time (or breaths) allows us to be mindful about where we place what, and in what way; and it also allows for curiosity and experimentation so that we find the best expression of a pose for our own unique body.

Given enough repetition, whether in the same practice session, or over weeks, months, or years, this precision and stability lead to knowledge imbued with wisdom and confidence.  Acumen is the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, and aplomb refers to self-assurance when in a demanding situation.  These are the fruits of a dedicated yoga practice.  There’s a beautiful sweetness about moving from pose to pose as if it is what you were born to do.

However, nothing is permanent.  So, regardless of where we happen to find ourselves at the moment, not only will our circumstances change, but we will 20190224_1623087729673856989822429.jpgchange, too.  This is practice in nonattachment, which is an acknowledgment of humility, impermanence, and letting go of control.  There are nice things about nonattachment; for instance, when things feel ridiculously difficult and overwhelming, it won’t necessarily be that way forever.  Alternately, there are challenging things about impermanence:  when life feels smooth, easy, and sweet, we know it probably won’t remain at this height always.

This is why it helps me to think of balance as a verb.  Instead of viewing it as a state of ease, equilibrium, stasis, and perfection, I practice balance dynamically, as an action, moving back and forth between extremes, honing in on what feels like center when and where appropriate and beneficial.  And this is my invitation to you ~ consider balance as a verb; bend and straighten your standing knee in warrior III; sway back and forth often (as much as possible, really) in tree pose; find yourself forgiving 20190202_1354094077344601718753753.jpgand gentle when you drive all the way to your dad’s house and then realize you’ve forgotten the key that will allow you to prep for the sale on his behalf.  Move between your extremes and find what feels like center to you; rest there for as long as it lasts; and when the ground beneath you shifts, shift with it; when your center slips, slip with it, precision & stability, acumen & aplomb radiating from you like the beacon of light and love you are.

 

This Week in Yoga ~ Unfolding

Hi Yogis,

Last week in yoga (I know, someday I’ll catch up) we worked with the concept of unfolding.  In a mat-based yoga practice, this means two things:  1) we allow the pose to unfold during the course of several breaths, and 2) within the pose unfolding, the body unfolds, as well.

For instance, when practicing Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle pose), instead of leaping into a pre-conceived “final” version of the pose on breath #1, we start gently by simply reaching to the side with straight legs, both arms parallel to the floor.  On breath #2, we lower the front arm, pressing the back of the hand gently into the inside of the front thigh, or, resting the palm on a block, while the back arm drapes behind the lumbar spine.  Breath #3 will take the fold at the hip deeper, if that seems wise, and the bottom hand closer to the floor.  20190110_0715412322849988521377645.jpgThe top arm is invited to reach upward, and the gaze is directed to the ceiling, side wall, or floor.  Breaths #4 & #5 will offer the space to remain, back out, or go deeper into the pose.  In this way, we take the pose in stages, which allows the body to warm up to the shape without any pressure to find the edge.  Only by the final breath(s), if it seems wise to do so, will we explore the edges of the pose as they manifest uniquely in each of us.

During practice, we unfold the pose and the pose unfolds the body, so that by the end we might feel like we’ve arrived in a totally new place, not just “regular old triangle pose.”  The fuel for all this unfolding is the breath. It is in each inhalation that the body expands and creates space, and in each exhalation that the body stabilizes and grounds.  In this way, the breath acts as “the great unfolder,” a beautiful thing to experience.

Happy Practicing,

The Catholic Yogi