Monday, October 27, 2014

the sweet spot of yoga

I was happily in student mode this weekend, participating in a virtual yoga workshop. For five hours Saturday and Sunday, Sarah Bowker, Meghan Skirha and I virtually joined our teacher in California, a student in Virginia, and another in Europe. Technology is amazing, yes?

I wanted to share something with you that I believe is a great skill for your yoga on and off the mat. In the Yapana methodology we explore holding patterns in relation to breathing, asanas, gravity, and movement. 

These are propping, collapsing, and yielding.

When we are propping in a yoga pose we are being overly rigid in our body. You might think  of a big giant boulder, or a big piece of furniture. It is hard for the breath to move through the body. In fact, students often are holding their breath when they are propping in their pose. Typically, when this happens a student is relying on his/her strength alone to hold them in the pose. 

When we are collapsing we are dropping the weight  of the body into the earth without maintaining a connection to the structure. There is little structure and stability in the body and the breath is more often shallow. Typically, when this happens a student is using too much flexibility and not enough strength.

The Yoga Sutras speak very little about actual asana (postures). What the sutras do tell us is that we are cultivating  effort (which equates to strength) and ease (which equates to the sweet feeling we get from a juicy stretch). It is the balance between those two that creates a healthy posture. A posture that enlivens and awakens. One that can bring more balance back into body, helping us to grow stronger in some areas of our body while opening up in other areas. 

This brings me back to the the third holding pattern, yielding. When we are yielding in a pose, there is a beautiful balance between strength and flexibility. When one is yielding in a pose you can almost see their whole body pulsing with breath. This is the sweet spot.

Does this show up off the mat? Yes, most likely. 

Do I have any Type A personalities reading this note right now (if you even have time to read it ;) ? We are the strong, dedicated, focused ones that can will our way through most anything and everything. Effort is a superpower.

Do I have any totally carefree, "it'll happen when it need to happen" folks reading? You might be a bit scattered and not so focused (and boy, I bet people adore you for it too). Ever feel like you are floating away, mentally or even physically? Ease is a superpower.

It is the combination of the two and the ability to yield, that gives such beauty, shape, and form to ALL the postures of your life.

What do you think? What is your natural superpower and could you benefit from cultivating the opposite energy a bit more? 

Lastly, here is a photo from our virtual classroom this weekend. Pretty cool, right?

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