Our past weeks of withdrawal have caused a lot of strain. Often holding back does cause strain. Like holding the dog leash when your pet really needs to run. This forced containment has caused us to look inward. That is one of our practice techniques! We place our attention inward towards a specific area and look for the details of relief, growth and ultimately stabilization with ease.
Now a hint of possible expansion in our community is beginning to emerge. How will we evolve going forward? How can we balance the effort of contraction and expansion to get to that essential “point zero”, or controlled effort that evolves towards ease?
Many poses feel like we should develop them by contracting to go deeper into the architecture of the pose. Other poses feel like we need to expand greatly and extend our reach! Twists are usually a bit of both. This post’s sequence is comprised of mostly twists, and all about opening up the abdomen to new space or withdrawing it inward for more contained strength. Guruji spoke often spoke of yoga practice as both a personal evolution and involution.
I think that most yoga students toss aside the arm balances as too difficult or strenuous, thinking, incorrectly, that they require a great deal of arm strength. When I started as a student, my arms were plenty strong but I couldn’t manage a single arm balance, and it took years to sort out what allowed these poses to “happen.” And that’s how I view them, as a pleasant result rather than something forced with willpower. When it goes well, the feeling is one of lightness and ease, as though levitating (one of the yogic “superpowers” in the yoga sutras). Rather than a feeling of accomplishment, however, I notice (or go for) passivity in the brain while holding the pose.
The following sequence will hopefully give a taste of how to attain this sensation.
Our yoga practice, called Sadhana, develops our character as much, if not more than, our physical strength and health. Our practice is here to nurture us – mind, body, and soul. Geeta Iyengar was so devoted to her students, her genius and commitment were inspiring. She was a yoga mother to us all. Below is a You-Tube clip of dear Geeta speaking about Sadhana.
When we think of what has influenced and nurtured us the most in life we eventually land on memories of our mothers, or women in our lives that influenced us. Now we turn to our practice to help us enact the mothering we still require. We all still need discipline, encouragement, laughter, and love to continue in all our endeavors.