Feel

How do you feel? I’m not after good or bad, but the details. No judgment. Take a moment and close your eyes, bring your attention inside and just do one thing: feel. Start with the easy things, like the temperature. Find different temperature zones in your body. Notice any tension, maybe even pain. You can use your breathe to guide you through your body and continue observing. Can you feel your breath? Your blood? Your veins and arteries? Your inner organs, muscles? Smile. Yes, just do it, smile. Feel the difference. What changed in your body following your lips going up? Now ask yourself: how do I feel? 

Instead of asking yourself if something is right or wrong, good or bad, ask yourself, how does it make me feel? And go from there. This is more important than anything else.

The same approach works in you yoga practice. You need to feel what you do, feel your body, your muscles, fascia, organs and and and. Every movement, every posture has to be felt and yeah, it should feel good! I know, sometimes it’s a bit challenging at the beginning, but again, you’ll find the moment of steadiness and ease, the moment you feel arrived in an asana. Listen to your body. Stop pushing, start feeling. Not saying this is easy, I even think it’s the most difficult part! If you are flexible, you might easily jump into a pretzel, but without that connection to your body, it’s no asana, but just a pretzel. Works for your Instagram account, but meaningless for your practice and your progress.

Start by sharpening your awareness to your feelings and what you feel. All the details! You will learn about your body in a total different way! Do some sun salutations blindfolded. This will support your focus. This can then be replaced with drishti, the focused gaze. It takes practice, as everything, but it will take your practice on a new level!

Just be prepared, that eventually you will never ever be able to answer the question ‚how do you feel‘ with just one word…. 

Let your breath be my music

In yesterdays Ashtanga class I asked my students to concentrate and to keep a strong focus on their breath, bandhas and drishti. I asked them to let each inhale and exhale initiate a movement. I asked them to follow my instructions and even if it’s not their pace, to make it their pace. There’s no such thing as a pause when practicing Ashtanga. We keep the focus, we keep on moving. We flow to the final rest, shavasana.

The stronger the focus the easier it gets to let upcoming thoughts just pass by, to tune in, to find yourself in your own bubble, while the breath of your neighbor yogis constantly confirm the frequency you’re connected to. Be in your body, feel what you are doing, align your body, check in to yourself.

My students yesterday seem to ride the same wave, it was such a precious and beautiful energy – I love your music, let’s play it again!

 

No rush

Yogi, take the necessary time to observe and understand what is going on in your body when practicing. It’s not just your body doing asanas, your mind has a job too. Yep, understanding what’s going on in your mind is crucial too. You just can’t separate it, body and mind go together. We should always practice mindful, feeling, observing, understanding.

I sometimes recognize, that my practice is just one asana after the other, while my mind is somewhere else. Time to connect. Time to go internal. I usually close my eyes for a moment, just listening to my breath, before restarting my practice. Activate my bandhas, deepen my breath, establish a strong drishti.

Take your time, rushing around and not paying attention will just get you tired, and make you more exposed to injure yourself, and also create mental madness. Your practice is a journey and so is each pose. You have to learn from it. Mastering a posture doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t learned from it. The physical level is quite obvious, but you might also be confronted with your weaknesses on a mental and emotional level.

Practicing yoga means digging into yourself, facing your true self and work on that changing process. Develop your body and mind, work on your flexibility on all levels. Create prana, learn about yourself. Don’t be afraid to change. It’s crucial to develop on each level. Enjoy the beautiful journey and take your time yogi!

 

Photos by Dee Gandhi, www.AlokaCreative.com