The practice of yoga is a constant journey and evolution. This blog is about experiencing and learning through the journey.There are countless opportunities for discovery, challenge, enjoyment and comic relief.It’s a journey that will never end, always a Yogini in Progress. Enjoy the journey!
Sometimes when I practice, it's with my
eyes closed. It started at the gym yoga classes as a way to block
out competitive urges or avoid the 360 degrees of mirrors interfering
with my drishti (focus). Seriously, how can pay attention when
everything you have self-doubt about is all right there in front of
you, magnified for the masses to see!?!
When my eyes are closed, I become
invisible to the people around me (at least it feels I do). Closing
my eyes has allowed me to find a pathway to introspection, focus on
the practice and a way to challenge myself.
Vasistasana with Utthita Padangusthasana
The vision of my physical body through
my physical eyes at times leads to self doubt, criticism and a little
too much thought about what others may think. But, when my eyes are
closed I depend on the interpretation of my inner eye. Looking
inward, it's easier to experience the practice as is bubbles up from
within. What I see is based on more than what the practice looks
like, it's defined by what it feels like. Denying the
external view has allowed me to move past competitive comparisons and
become more accepting of my physical attributes.
A while back I read a blog about things
you'll start doing, now that you're doing yoga. One of the items
was; you will start taking picture of yourself in yoga poses, often.
When I first read this, I thought, “Oh, not me.” I hate having
my picture taken. But, it was true, it started innocently enough,
trying to get a better view of my shoulder dipping in a challenging
arm balance. Then, it snowballed to pictures during workshops and at
outdoor yoga events.
Recently, I had the opportunity to have
some yoga pictures taken by a professional photographer. It was a
fun night with other yoginis pretending we were yoga models. But,
the most fun was the revelation of the resulting images. This is how
I look when my eyes are closed! The photographer was able to capture how
I feel throughout my whole being. It was lovely to find the internal
view matched the external one.
If you are in the Omaha area and are
looking for a photographer, consider Christopher Tierney of CTF Foto.
It's that time of year for resolutions and changes. No doubt many of
you have big plans for positive changes. But, just how will you get
there? Your yoga practice and the concept of viṅyāsa krama can provide
some sound guidance.
Imagine you are in the forest or mountains
and ahead of you is a natural staircase comprised of stone. The
ascension is not uniform or predictable, some of the steps are more
substantial or minimal, the stride from one to the next may be great or
simple and every so often there will be secure plateau to pause. This is
the embodiment of viṅyāsa krama.
asana, meditation or pranayama can be viewed as steps in a staircase.
Some of them are accessible and easy to run through and others require a
little more time, consideration and preparation. Every once in a while,
we have to go back down to the bottom and start again. And every so
often, there is a natural plateau or pause.
Consider a challenging
arm balance like parsva bakasana (side crow). The first kramas of this
pose are are fostered and nourished in adho mukha svanasna (downward
facing dog). Active hands, arms and shoulders working to support the
body create the strength and structure for parsva bakasana. As your
practice expands, you are engaging the energy of manipura chakra and
tapping into the lift of uddiyana bandha. A major step along the way is
finding bakasana (crow).
Moving on, developing the twist of the
torso in utkatasana (powerful pose), encouraging the triceps to leverage
the strength of the thigh in the twist, while the hips stay in line
with knees and feet. Keeping this parivritta utkatasana (twisted
powerful pose) squatting down to reach your hands and firmly grounding
them to the earth. Only then are you ready to test the waters of bearing
your weight, your hips and your heart on you hands. Finally, your heart
reaches forward, your upper body engages, uddiyana bandha lifts and
your feet fly gently off the early. You've made it to the summit of
With each intentional step, respecting the time,
effort and energy it takes to work through it, you can get to the top,
the apex, the final goal.
So how does this affect those
resolutions? Those challenges and goals in your life can be viewed as
needing the same special steps to work through them. What are those
steps, big and little, that will get you to the goal. If your goals is
to lose weight, don't just focus on the final goal, the first step might
be a simple one of eliminating soda or drinking more water. If your
goal is to organize your entire house, the first step may be to start
with a room or better yet, a small drawer. If your goal is to find a
new career, the first step may be rediscovering your strengths and
If you are not making progress or you fall away from
that ultimate goal, what plateau has become too comfortable, how can you
move the next step? How can you move in the right direction and in the