Yoga is a practice that can help us to create more balance and harmony in our lives. For me, balance means living a life with awareness without overindulging in the senses but at the same time without neglecting our human conditions by trying to restrain ourselves too much. It is about finding the middle ground in whatever we do.
In this way, if a Yogi likes French fries, eat them with moderation and awareness. There is no point in forcing our body into a certain type of diet or pose if we are not ready to organically step in to it.
Our body has its wisdom, and it’s way to evolve. It is through awareness that we understand what we need and how to adjust ourselves in life and the practice.
The Practice of Yoga can help you to cultivate that awareness. It is such an amazing tool to train your consciousness as we most of the time remain in the asana for just five breaths. If we let our awareness run behind a thought or any other distraction, you will lose connection to your body and your practice.
It is only when you train your awareness in and out of the mat, that you will know when you need French Fries and how much you should eat. Obviously, French Fries is just a metaphor and can be applied to anything. In practice, for example, awareness will let you know when is the right time to step back in a particular pose and when is the right time to go deeper.
We can undoubtedly say that if you can be aware in and out of the mat, you will have a deep understanding about yourself and your practice then your inner wisdom will play an essential role in the way you lead your life
Let’s use our consciousness to learn how to understand the secret languages of your body and life.
According to Larry Schultz, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga can be defined as “a fixed sequence of movements where you use Ujjayi breathing, Bandhas, and Dristi to create transformation.”
When these three elements — Ujjayi breath, Bandhas, and Dristi — are combined during the asana practice, the attention will move inward, giving the student the opportunity to move the attention inward, helping the students to realise about unattended or unresolved issues or emotions, resentment, anger, or any memory from the past, present, and past lives. It is only when we have the ability to see whatever is inside of us can we begin progressively letting go of these past experiences, whether good or bad. The first step in inner transformation is to realize where you are, and then you will realize exactly in which direction you have to move towards.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, when approached in the traditional way, is a great practice method to promote transformation. If you dedicate yourself with this method, you will have to practice the same sequence everyday, and stop whenever the teacher asks you to stop. This may sound boring to some, but this is actually one of the strongest points of the practice — be able to realize how the mind fluctuates through the same sequence or stimulation. This awareness in your practice will give you a very clear idea of the tendencies and attachment of the mind.
By understanding how your mind works, accepting its tendencies and attachments, you will give yourself the ability to change and improve your life, and also will give you the tools on how to understand and support others, as all these fluctuations that you witness in your practice are part of our human condition and they will be presented with more or less intensity in others.
Even if the practice seems to be very physical, it has the potential to change your life in a positive way. With all of that said, we would like to invite you to practice, and experience the benefits described above, regardless of your age, gender, flexibility, or strength.
Have a good luck in your Yoga Journey
“Saying you are not flexible for yoga
is like saying you are too dirty for a bath.”
Throughout our years of experience in teaching yoga, we have met students with different capabilities, understandings, and approaches when it comes to the yoga practice.
One of the most common concerns beginner students have is, “I am not flexible, so I don’t know if yoga is for me.” If you worry about this, too, then yoga is actually one of the best ways to release stiffness and tension in the body, as well as improve your joint mobility. It is very common nowadays for not only elders, but also in fairly younger people, to have very limited joint mobility, especially on the knees and the lower back. Lack of mobility in the joints (perhaps due to lack of daily stretching/movement or any exercise in general) leads to poor posture, more serious joint injuries and other health implications.
Mobility on the hips is one of, if not the most important part of the body to keep in check because the more mobile you are on your hips, the more mobile you will be on the other parts of your upper and lower body. Likewise, if you are too tight or stiff on your hips, your upper and lower body muscles and joints will compensate for this lack of mobility on your hips. For example, in a physical activity as simple as walking, there will always be a gentle twisting motion happening in both the lower back and the knees if the hips are tight – the more we are mindful of this simple reminder, the more we can prevent suffering from lower back and knee pain in the future.
In practices such as Ashtanga Vinyasa and Rocket Vinyasa, there are so many postures in the standing and seated sequences that work on hip opening, which make these asana practices are a great way to alleviate pressure on the lower back, as well as a safe way to maximize the knees’ anatomical function – flexion, extension, and a little bit of rotation.
With regards to poor posture, these yoga asana sequences are especially beneficial for people who are used to working around 8 hours a day seated and hunched over a desk. Not only will the standing and seated sequences give you the opportunity to practice stretches that release the back of the body, but you will also cultivate good posture by practicing correct spinal alignment.
Moreover, as having flexible hips will release stiffness in the spine, it will also eventually increase your lung capacity, thereby allowing you to take deeper breaths. Deeper breaths cultivates more energy into your life, strengthens your immune system, slows down the aging process, calms the mind by reducing tension and stress, and fortifies your body’s natural ability to heal, among many other benefits
All of the amazing benefits that having a flexible body are available to anybody who wants to practice yoga – as long as one’s mind is open to the idea of not letting one’s capacities and limitations be a barrier to the practice. Just get on your mat, practice with patience and persistence, and soon enough, you will experience progress.
Practicing yoga is an amazing experience – there is so much wisdom in every practice, in every breath we take when we move through asana sequences. Especially if you like to practice styles like Ashtanga Vinyasa or Rocket Vinyasa, where there is always a fixed sequence, the practice allows you to clearly notice the fluctuations of the body and the mind as you put yourself thorough the same sequences every day. There will be days where you will notice that your mind is calm, your body is flexible, and everything seems to be smooth and perfect; and similarly, there will be days when the body and the mind feel stiff or heavy, or seem to be pulling you in different directions. So how do you deal with all this as a yoga practitioner?
First of all, it is quote important to realize that there is no “good” practice or “bad” practice – every practice is a process of recognizing yourself on a deeper level, and most importantly, of accepting oneself in the present moment. When you approach our practice with more equanimity, and with simply an intention to learn from it, then you will received wisdom from the practice. However, if you approach the practice with the idea that it will ultimately bring you peace, happiness, and lightness all the time, then you are limiting your chances to learn and deepen your practice and your yoga journey.
All the mental patterns that come up during our practice (even off the mat) is a result of our experiences – which we may perceive as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Particular experiences, depending on how strong it is, will create an imprint in one’s mind in this lifetime (and other lives, if you believe in past life). Some past experiences are so strong that it eventually comes back to you, or may be triggered when you expose yourself to a similar situation, feeling, or environment that is similar to the said experience. The result of this will be a wrong perception of reality because what you really perceived is the reality based on a past experience, and not the reality as it is presented.
In this regard, if we approach our practice with just the intention to learn whatever the present moment has to teach, these imprints from past experiences will inevitably float to the surface of the mind repetitively. And although this will happen naturally, we must resist the urge to dwell on and follow these imprints as they arise; instead, we must learn to simply acknowledge them, and eventually, they will reduce. This is why the practice is called a therapy or cleansing process – not only for the physical body, but also for the mind and the spirit.
This is one of the most powerful results you can reap from the yoga practice: the ability to cultivate equanimity in yourself, and the ability to let go of things that no longer serve you in the present moment. This will allow you to perceive reality as it is.
The practice is supposed to give us clarity, and clarity of the mind will only be possible when your awareness allows you to recognize and accept what is going on in the mind, whether they be “good” or “bad.” If we only look forward to having pleasant experiences, it will increase our level of desire and attachment – and if we train our mind this way, finding peace or happiness in life will be very difficult, as the mind will always have the need to find pleasure in whatever we do. And as we all know, life has a bit of everything – ups and downs, happiness and loneliness, success and defeat, and so on.
Practicing acceptance can make a monumental difference on your practice, and as well as on your life. It is a constant learning process, but it will definitely help you improve the state of your overall well-being.