seeking simplicity

The longer I practice yoga asana, the more I find myself drawn to the most simple, foundational poses. Triangle, anyone? While the complex poses like arm balancing and pretzel asana are fun to pursue, you usually can't actually spend a lot of time there.

But I can spend a lot of time in warrior 2, or supta virasana, or downdog. And right now, that feels way better, way more effective than nailing a handstand.

To actually give yourself ample time to align a pose, feel the pose in your own body, enjoy the pose, breathe there, BE THERE, is a totally different practice than an achievement oriented approach. Upon its face, it's certainly not as shiny or flashy. But dang if it isn't sustainable, health-giving and rife with the potential for internal experience.

Is your approach to practice supporting your health, your breath, your internal realm?

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Waking Up through Yoga

Ideally, our yoga practices create a better connection between our minds + our bodies. The breath serves as the gateway between the body/mind, and this specialty is an experience unique to yoga in comparison to other physical disciplines. Through the work of breath, we can really dig into poses, keep the nervous system calm and bridge the gap between our bodies and minds, all within the framework of a single pose.


Now, because we're forging this body/mind connection via the breath, we can start to WAKE UP places inside of us which have gone dormant or with which we've lost touch. Through yoga, we heighten our sensitivity, our perception, our sensory awareness. The practice can be all about TUNING IN to whatever is happening in that moment. Increasing capacity for awareness no matter what is taking place. I happen to think that's a much better option than huffing and puffing my way through a pose or a challenging experience.

As my teacher Tias says, "By increasing our capacity for sensory awareness, we become more connected, more present and awake beings." Yoga wins again.

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These are 3 ways to define the 5th YAMA, APARIGRAHA. Is it quite possibly the hardest restraint of all? We humans love for things to stay just as they are. As long as they're good, that is. Change is super freaky. So freaky, in fact, that it's less scary to just hang with what's happening now, then to accept whatever might happen in the future. 

Yoga postures are pretty much constantly changing. Sometimes they're evolving into deeper iterations. Sometimes they're devolving into less depth. Sometimes the nature of them is changing all together -- perhaps they shift from flexibility work into strengthening work. Or from physical to meditative. 

For me the journey of the hamstrings and split-legged postures in particular have been an epic, winding and sometimes frustrating pathway. It could be so easy for me to think, "I used to be able to do the full splits! (cling, grasp)." Instead I spend my time in hamstring openers breathing, checking my alignment, softening, trying to detach. And ultimately, if I can't do the splits ever again, am I still a yogi? Of course I am! You're not a yogi because of your ability to do a pose. You're a yogi in the way you handle how the pose goes.

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Working with Impermanence through Balancing Postures

Nothing in this lifetime is permanent. But we get into mental/emotional trouble when we think that it is. The interplay of the GUNAS suggest that change is constant and part of our work in the path toward CONTENTMENT is accepting the natural FLUX. We can prepare ourselves for inevitable CHANGE by seeing all of life's offerings as IMPERMANENT.

You know what else is fleeting + impermanent? BALANCING postures. I find balancing asanas SO. FREAKING. CHALLENGING. The interplay of all the bones, muscles, connective tissues, breath, point of concentration makes these poses so BEAUTIFUL in the moment of pause and so DIFFICULT in the wavering wildness of imbalance.

But it's all worth it. To practice ACCEPTANCE of the IMPERMANENCE of these set of postures sets the stage for our greater work out in the world.

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It's Called Gratitude, and That's Right

I find myself, at this current juncture, with an extremely full plate. I'll spare you the details, but surely you've been there too or are there now or are maybe on your way in. It's sort of fascinating to watch everything pile on and see how you rise to the challenge.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. My point is around GRATITUDE for practice. As I come to realize that things are never going to be less fast or less full, I see more + more the NEED that my daily practice fills. It's totally a REFUGE. It's mine alone, it's 100% for me (well, and probably a little bit for those around me), it's SACRED.

This morning as I moved through ASANA + meditation I just felt so dang GRATEFUL for my healthy body, for my ability to calm my heart/mind, for my ever-present BREATH. It just feels so good. So natural. So NECESSARY.

Why do you practice? What does your yoga do for you?

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