Monday, July 22, 2013
Morning glow of sunrise. Walking into the practice space. A smiling face greets you. We stand. We breathe. We move. Primary series practice has begun. For the next 75 minutes we breathe, move and ponder without words, but in understood shared experience. Sun salutations to prepare the body, mind and spirit. Standing series to establish a base of power, endurance and resilience. Seated postures to challenge the hips and low back. More than poses, this practice steadies the mind, and demands a moment by moment answer to the question: "Where are you, right now, at this very moment?" If you are not with the flow of breath, then you are not at home in the practice.
I am often asked if Ashtanga Yoga is mind control. I would say that it is more like a mirror of your current state of thought. If the breath wavers from its native steadiness, if there are major imbalances in the push-pull / forward folding - backbending / right - left / front -back of the body, if the core is weak or inflexible --- you will discover this from your practice. And the discoveries often point to a non-physical issue that needs attention - one's attitude off the yoga mat - the compassion (or lack) towards one's self - doing one's own practice with attention to progress, more than being in competition with another's practice.
And the best part of practicing in silence and stillness with your teacher is the shared respect of working with, and following the same timing as another individual, without staring. You occasionally look -- but more likely, you sense by the quality of the breath, what is needed. People from the yoga studio had opportunity to study with some master yoga practitioners and teachers. With that shared experience and a regular studio practice, words are not needed during the practice. All that is needed is:
P R A C T I C E