Asana

Whatever I said in a previous post about bicycling yoginis may be true, but you know, there is still just nothing like a real asana practice. I love my hatha yoga, taking my body through movement and stillness, finding the focus in the breath, the ease and strength in each pose. Not only do I feel more alive and energized after a yoga practice, I also notice that i am more open to insights, both during and after the practice. Regular asana practice keeps me centered, and grounded, and I am remembering now how important that is…

Click here for an interesting site for anyone who might want to explore some new asanas, and maybe try putting together a simple home sequence or two.

I did not bring my yoga mat with me on this journey, and so I have been practicing on a variety of different surfaces… wood floor, grass, cement (ouch!) and carpets…  all these different surfaces make for interesting adjustments, which can lead to interesting insights…

During standing poses such as warrior II and triangle, we tend to really ground through our feet, and hook right into our sticky mats. That’s good, mostly.  But on slippery carpet, I am unable to rely on a “sticky” surface.  What I need to do to keep my feet from sliding out from under me is to draw the energy up through my legs and use the core of my body more.  The feet definitely stay grounded, but they cannot be my sole support.  Playing with this from a muscular perspective I find myself exploring the lift from an energetic perspective.

Try this next time you are in a warrior II pose:  Ground your feet. Find those points – base of the first toe, base of the baby toe, heel – and feel how they are connected to the ground.  Then, lift your toes. As you lift your toes, engage through your thighs. You want to engage in such a way that you feel the energy lifting upward, and carry that energetic engagement right up into the floor of the pelvis. One way to do this is to think about the legs drawing toward midline, without actually moving them. The pelvic floor draws up (think gentle mula bandha)  and allow the energy to rise all the way from the ground up through the pelvis.

I think this must be how dancers learn to fly.  What happened for me, as I played with this energy is that my legs were very active, and my feet felt solid – I could feel a lifting that would keep my feet from sliding out and away while still maintaining a sense of grounding.  Very interesting sensation.  Play with it, and try engaging and releasing different muscles of the legs and hips and see what changes.  You may even begin to feel the core drawing energy up into the spine.   Beware though, that you don’t allow the engagement to become “gripping.”  Notice the tendency to grip, then let it go.  Don’t forget to stay with the breath!

I tried this energetic lifting in downward dog as well…  with much the same effect.  With the shoulders wrapped, draw the inner arms together and use that drawing in to lift upward.  At the same time, draw the inner thighs toward each other, keeping them spinning in just slightly, and draw that energy up into the pelvic floor.  Once again, an amazing energetic lift!  Even with a slippery surface you can stay in downward dog… grounded and flying all at once!

Ahhhhh….. asana.  I love my hatha yoga practice.

When my body has been stretched and worked and opened, then my mind is better able to find the stillness, the meditation, and yes, even an energetic lift.

So next time you find yourself without a sticky mat and are afraid to do your asanas…. do it anyway, and let me know what happens!

🙂

Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 13:10  Leave a Comment  
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Bicycle Yoga

This morning the sea is dark gray and opaque, with rough white capping waves.  At the beach, the wind and the waves create a comforting white noise that those (theoretically relaxing) noise machines can never truly imitate.  The skies are gray, with random raindrops…. very unlike the bright blue skies and warm sun of yesterday.
bicycle
Last afternoon, I borrowed a bicycle, and rode into Helsingor, a ride of about 8 kilometers.  It was a beautiful ride, along the coast, through tiny beach towns.  Many bicyclists, people walking dogs, sunbathing on the beach, swimming, picnicking, the deep blue water speckled with white sail boats, and closer to Helsingor, the ferries.  bicycle round-a-boutThis is a great place for bicycles….  not only are there pedestrian paths, but there are bicycle paths everywhere (even in the round-a-bouts!)  It is a very accepted and common mode of transportation here.

And can I just say….. Granny bicycles rock!  Ok, you hard-core bicyclists out there may disagree, but I think the old “Granny style” bikes (which is what Sven, a patient here, called it, as I was picking out a bike that would fit me) are definitely the way to go.  You know the kind… picture the bicycle ridden by wicked old Miss Gulch from the Wizard of Oz, basket and all.

Ok, so it probably means I am a pleasure bicyclist and not a sport bicyclist, but I really like sitting upright: spine long, heart open, smile on my face. It’s gotta be better on the body than being all hunched over, intent on the destination, forgetting about the journey.

And that’s the joy of it – not only is the bicycle something to get me from point A to point B, but it is also something that allows me to enjoy the journey… To see the sea, to smell the air, to open to all sensations…  feeling the breath, completely in the moment, this too is yoga.

Yoga is not all about asanas, although I love asana practice. Asana practice, hatha yoga, is invaluable for learning how to be in the body, how to be in the moment, how to be present with breath, and to stay centered in the midst of stress and chaos.  When you learn the focus of hatha yoga, you begin to see yoga in all of your life….

like on a bicycle.  Of course any activity can be yoga, or not.  I can take that same ride, and be lost in thought… thinking about yesterday,  and wondering how to make things happen in the future, and not be present to the air, or the sea.  That would be good too, and it would be healthy for the body, and good exercise, but it’s not yoga.

My preference is to take that same ride, and feel the air on my skin, the breath in my body, smell the sea and ride right out of time…. letting it become a meditation, a grounding activity, connecting me back to source.   Life giving, life affirming yoga.

When I can do that, on a bicycle, in an asana, in a sitting meditation on the beach, with joy, then I can also remember to ground and center even in the chaos and stress and pain that life may bring.

A street in Helsingor

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 05:39  Comments (2)  
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