A posture is achieved when effort stops and the mind is merging meditatively into infinity.
In morden yoga practices, we call the postures asanas. However, following Patanjali’s yoga sutras, the term asana only refers to a seated posture, literally asana meaning „seat“. This could be Padmasana (Lotus pose), or any other seated pose, with the aim to sit firm and still for a longer period of time. Obviously this is not Bharadvajasana, as in the picture!
Interestingly in the early times of yoga, any standing and dynamic postures have rather been named tapas. Studying the yoga philosophy we might find the term tapas translated as devotional austerity, but literally it means „heat“.
So, how comes that we are calling the postures asanas? Shouldn’t tapas be the better matching term for what our physical practice is today? Well, our asana practice today has at least a similar ambition – through steadiness and ease, reaching a state of moving meditation.
Good morning practice!
I played with the 2nd, the intermediate series recently – fuuuuun! While some of the super fancy transitions and advanced inversions are still out of reach for me right now, I was quite surprised that many postures are fully accessible for me and I’am quite close to others.
Someone said once, if you always do the same, you can’t expect different results. Well, I don’t agree when it comes to the yoga practice. In the Ashtanga method we do exactly that, we practice the same sequence, the same postures every day. And with this slide more and more into a moving meditation. But not just that, with practice, the body opens, we go deeper and deeper into the poses. Once in a while I try a posture that I couldn’t access before and notice that all of a sudden I can. Without even working on this specific pose. The body changed.
And I’m transitioning more and more into the next series. A new chapter to start, exciting!
Urdhva Padmasana – one of my favorite postures, as it combines inversion, stretch and balance. The pressure at the thyroid brings my attention up and the posture as such allows some fine tuning in the entire body until feeling steady.
Each time you reach this state of steadiness and ease, it feels like arrived. The posture feels stable, easy and makes me wonder why it was such an effort to reach this state. It’s the same for most postures that don’t come naturally. The moment headstand felt like this, I thought, finally, I’m there. Wrong. Totally wrong. An injury threw me out of my practice and inversions moved far away. Once again. Nothing is for granted only because you were there once. Insecurity and mistrust in my body instead. I know this by now and I also know it’s just a matter of slowly getting back. Accepting the weakness through injury, building up step by step. No doubts, but patience. Consistency. Forgiving. Learning. Benevolence. Trust. Ease. And back you are.
Once the body is back, it doesn’t mean the posture can be easily accessed. And no way to push yourself. It’s the mind that need to follow!
Upavista Konasana was a long journey for me and I thought I will never reach the ground with my upper body. Even if not flat yet, I‘m down! It was never a posture that had too much of my attention, as I know it’s a matter of open hips and long hamstrings and it’s an intense stretch of the insides of the legs. Nothing to force, but slowly develop. It’s all about patience. Haha, my strength! Not. At. All.
This posture is a fabulous teacher. Everything is possible and comes when the time is right. When we are ready. The body open, the mind without the intent to push. Allowing the body to immerse into the asana and eventually one day we’re in. And if not? Well, I don‘t worry anymore, I just practice.
Together with a yoga teacher buddy, we hosted a beautiful workshop last weekend. For the first time I was giving Reiki to each participant individually, while they were guided through a yin yoga practice. What a thrill!
New for us was the combination of Reiki and yin yoga, as well as giving Reiki to individuals in a large group. I can hardly explain what was going on in the yoga shala, but I can tell, it was an amazing experience! My hands were almost roasting, energy was flowing like never before. Strong, rich, to the point. And the feedback was awesome, people felt it and some were deeply touched.
The entire afternoon was different for me. I noticed, that I was driven by intuition and I allowed it. Whatever I did, whatever I said emerged from my belly, not my head. While this made my head feel a bit like covered in mist, I knew it was the right thing – to listen with my body and trust my instincts.
Now my brain rules again and I’m planning to do more of this. I don’t think this is something one teacher can do alone, as this would reduce the focus. To be able to offer full attention to both, yoga and Reiki, to instruct, align and care about people, and to merge into the Reiki energy, it needs two to tango.
Stay tuned, I will come up with news on this soon!
When practicing Ashtanga, we usually don’t use any other resources but our body and breath. However, from time to time I find it quite useful to get some support. Never to force the body into something, but some help to get used to a certain posture.
It can also be beneficial particularly for rather stiff bodies, to simply extend the arms, which might enable them to get a better understanding of the posture.
Are you in Switzerland? I’m available for one to one teaching – book your slot and experience the difference!
I remember quite well when I heard this for the first time; it was in my teacher training and my only thought was: now she (my teacher) lost her mind.
I was sweating my heart out, my concentration at a peak, my muscles sore, my entire body a mess of tension. Ease? Really? I rather felt like made of concrete, ease was a term I wasn’t even dreaming of!
It took some time to get an idea of what this means, to find steadiness and same time ease in a posture. Stability and consistency without effort. When holding a posture, while being in correct alignment, there’s a certain moment when it feels just easy, almost like a relief! This is ease.
The best postures to understand the concept of steadiness and ease for me are headstand and handstand. There is this moment, when all of a sudden you feel weightless, your body is in every detail in the right alignment. As if you can stay forever in this posture, almost levitating.
This happens when it all comes together: concentration and an inward view through drishti (focus point), proper ujjayi breath, stability through activating the bandhas and correct alignment. For me it’s additionally about not thinking how to do a pose, but just do it.
Then your yoga starts.
Turn your lotus position upside down. No worries if full lotus isn’t
available for you yet, whatever your variation is works – full lotus, half lotus
or cross-legged. Even if full lotus is preferred as it makes the posture much
more compact and stable, we all know that it’s not always accessible.
Once in the posture and your thighs are parallel to the floor, press the
knees into the hands (yes, this way!). Start to lengthen your spine (feels
sooooo good!) and lift your chin slightly, so there’s no pressure on your neck.
For the next few breaths, allow your world to move this way. Upside
down. Notice what‘s different – is there any difference?
Physically this posture does a lot – it opens the hips, strengthens the shoulder frame, the muscles along the spine, the erector spinae is activated, just to name a few. In addition, your inner organs benefit, particularly as this pose utilizes specific pressure points at the thyroid and the kidneys.
As in all inversions, the blood flow increases and the brain is offered a surge of oxygen.
Don’t you wonder if you would suddenly feel your thoughts streaming with better clarity. If holding this posture a bit longer, maybe even a few minutes, you will notice that all your doubts, blank mental notes, and confusing stimulus will clear up.
Really? Well, you tell me, try it 🙂
I’ve got you covered — how about a private session? For a best friend, for yourself or both of you?
Make giving meaningful — a Reiki treatment is a great option for experiencing a deep relaxation while the self-healing capabilities will get a major boost. Read more about it here.
A yoga private session is the best way to learn and deepen your practice. No matter what your friends’ and your practice look like right now, be it group classes in a studio, home practice or if new to yoga, a private class will make a difference. It will be tailor made for you, meaning you decide if it’s about receiving adjustments to improve postures, learn something about the yoga philosophy, breathing techniques, meditation, better adapt your practice to your needs, or get a smooth start into it all.
Are you new to yoga? Read here how to get started.
Make a difference! A present like this will be beneficial for body and mind and it’ll be fun! Let’s have a chat, I’ll be happy to design a beautiful e-card for you.
Let’s twist babes out there!
Gently move with your breath – lengthen with your inhale, twist with your exhale. Twists help to rejuvenate your spine by restoring your spine’s natural range of motion. They will cleanse your organs, and stimulate circulation. Not to mention the cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands!
Get your blood flowing and boost your energy!