The Rhythm of Yoga Life
The arrival of my son Eli has undoubtedly conjured up all sorts of emotions and the time off has given me more opportunity to reflect. Reflect on being a parent for the second time, my work & even my Yoga practice.
One of the things I seemed to have forgotten since Mias birth (my eldest child) was how babies have no concept of routine. Well no concept of their parents routine at least. It seems every parents first job is to help develop a routine or rhythm for their child and this is always emphasised as children grow and enter school. Without a doubt the majority of children thrive when in a routine and pattern & as parents we work hard to help create and support these routines. Why then do we not apply this same knowledge to our own lives? Do we actually believe that as adults a schedule, a pattern or routine is no longer of benefit?
I think we would all agree that we operate better when we are in a routine ourselves. More than anything it just ‘feels’ right when we are in a rhythm. More than that, is the feeling that its ‘not right’ when these patterns or rhythms are disturbed. A long flight after a relaxing holiday or even just a disturbed nights sleep can send us completely off centre.
From the celestial bodies above us to the cyclic nature of the seasons, life exists & thrives when in rhythm. So, its safe to say that anything that can help us create and sustain rhythm in our lives would be of benefit.
This is the gift of Vinyasa Yoga. “Vinyasa” is derived from the Sanskrit term nyasa, which means “to place,” and the prefix vi, “in a special way”. We take from this that a Vinyasa class is progressive sequence of asana where we place our body in a specific or special way.
The practice would follow a specific system that helps each student unfold. There are phases that naturally flow into one another seamlessly yet with an inherent harmony and intelligence.
Each of these phases has its own lessons to impart and each relies on the work of the previous phase.
Stage 1: Be Still
The teachings of yoga includes a view called parinamavada which is the idea that constant change is an inherent part of life. We shouldn’t assume that we are quite the same person we were yesterday. Without time to be still & become aware of self, its easy to distort the reality of who we really against on who we think that we should be or have been.
Stage 2 Align the breath:
All my classes emphasise the use of breath and its ability to transform. One of the primary teachings of Vinyasa is to align and initiate action from our breath which opens up the flow of our life force energy-Prana. Again this breath experience links to the rhythmic actions we highlighted in the nature that surround us. Each inhalation connects to each exhalation in one continual cycle. Expansive actions such as heart opening backbends are initiated with the inhalation, contractive actions such as forward folds begin with the exhalation.
Take a few minutes to explore how this feels right now.
As you inhale expand the body- open your arms, lift them up rolling back your shoulders and project your heart forward. As you exhale lower your arms round the rounds and bring the palms together (contraction). How did that feel?
OK now try this.
Start lifting your arms, open your chest and roll back your shoulders but this time as you breath out. As you inhale lower your arms and round the spine again.
Don’t you feel the first method felt intuitively right and natural, while the second felt awkward and just off.
This intuitive feeling helps us learn how to sustain an action by harmonizing with the flow of nature creating a natural rhythm to our lives.
Stage 3 The progressively unwinding path:
The Asana (postures) sequencing plays a pivotal role in our experince. Each new asana is only as beneficial as whats preceded it. With our thirst for all things ‘tough & exciting’ we can sometimes fall into dismissing the foundation elements of a practice. We give our all to the more physically demanding postures or we spend the opening moments of practice itching to get to the “good stuff”, the headstands & arm balances or jumping back and fourth. A properly constructed & planned vinyasa practice will be progressive & its benefit be determined by this step-by-step integration.
Think of this. Imagine a metal spring coiled tightly. If you were to take that spring and tug at it with speed and force what would happen? The spring could lengthen yes, but it would still be coiled. Now instead unwind the spring slowly according to its circular pattern. The first moments are tough and often require more energy but as you begin to open up, you find it gets easier and easier to uncoil what was once tight bound.
Essentially at the start of a yoga practice, you are that spring. The vinyasa sequence should feel beautifully rythmic in nature and progressive in action. As you unwind with each asana you go further & deeper until you finally open to your full extent.
Stage 4 Let Go:
Just like that unwound metal spring, your journey through the vinyasa will leave you with a sense of compete freeness. Being open, no more than that, being totally laid bare gives the most euphoric yet relaxed moment you could imagine.
We have hopefully guided you to a place of complete Ananda or Divine bliss. No stress, no worry, no fleeting desires to push or pull us.
As I often say near the climax of our practice together, THIS is the moment. This is your Yoga. Almost suspended in the moment with a complete harmony of mind, body & spirit.
Don’t shy from this experience, don’t feel a guilt but rather embrace it and bask in the divine creature that is you. Your time is so often filled with responsibility to and for others, that this moment might just be the only one thats truly for you!
Don’t hold back, just LET GO.
It is important to remember a vinyasa is not just any sequence of actions. Its not random physical exercise. It’s a process that awakens and sustains consciousness. One that leaves you a little more YOU by the end. As you gather your things to leave class I can promise that you will renter the world as the best version of you.
I return tomorrow (Saturday 10am) to help guide you through a Vinyasa class that will draw on these elements.
Class is full but I have saved a few mats for drop in’s so get there early and you can claim a mat. Class begins at 10am but I will be in from 9:45a, with a vibration sound bath of mind expanding music and teaching a pre class pranayama.
If you need to cancel please, please do so online so that so another member can makes of the place.
Love & Peace