OK, I’ll say it: before I did my teacher training I found Sanskrit a bit pretentious, but now I know the words and I enjoy it as they fall out of my mouth. I revel in the history, authenticity and my new knowledge. So! Asana just means a posture comfortably held; it’s the poses’ part of yoga. Yes, yoga is more than postures, but whatever yoga is for you, rest assured, it’s whatever you want it to be.
When I first began yoga, it was something that was very physical, but out of nowhere the mental effects crept on me. I’ve spoken before about surrendering to your practice. Not beating yourself up or focusing so much on a particular goal/pose…laugh it off! In the photo above, I fell out of whatever it was I was trying to do to look serene and yoga but I’m genuinely happy – that’s what is important. I’ll say this because my teacher, Ganga Devi, said it to us and it was one of those moments where I had to find my book and quickly write it down:
“We are more important than the asanas”
Next time you feel that twinge in your knee or your shoulder gives out and all you want to do is take a moment in shavasana (corpse pose), DO IT! Remember you are more important than whatever pose you are trying to do. Asana practice has wonderful physical and mental benefits which are quickly negated once you push yourself too hard and become injured. I’m the worst for it, so this is not only a memo to you, but also one to myself. Without question, you are more important than whatever pose you stress about achieving, so let it go! It’ll come back to you and one day while having a relaxed practice, you’ll give that pose you were obsessing over a try and it will feel great (this is the point where you’ll probably find a new goal, try and enjoy the progress as it happens)!
One of the best things I’ve ever done for my asana practice is… chill out. I took about two weeks of just getting to know my posture, my alignment and the subtle body. The first day I was like “man, this isn’t what I need.” A couple of days later after persevering with stripping my practice back to the basics, I felt better than ever, nothing was hurting and I was really getting to know my body. I’m always trying to slow down, rewind, flip the switch and come back to the basics. They don’t call it the foundation for nothing. Nail those foundation poses. When you can comfortably sit, hold and breathe in a posture for longer than you’ll ever need, then you can move on, but there’s a lot of great base work to be done which will undoubtedly help you reach your goals. Whether those goals are increased flexibility and strength, a clearer mind, or a more focused meditation it’s okay to have them floating in the background, just remember that you are more important. Deal?
Helen – WAP