Support is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it shows your strength.
If your body is not capabable of doing a pose without modification or support, don’t push yourself into the posture. You can create unnecessary strain or injury.
In my 20’s, while giving birth, I sustained injury to my lower back. Due to this injury there are some poses where I need modification, and or support. Malasana is one of those poses for me.
While in this posture, and without support, I have to lean forward I experience discomfort in my hips, and a strain on my ankles because I have to spread my feet out so far to hold myself up.
The support of a block will gradually ease the tightness in my hips, and provide me the release, and flexibility I need to sit up straighter, and eventually sit in Malasana without discomfort.
Don’t strain, it’s not worth the pain.
Balancing postures have always been my biggest challenge. I used to get so frustrated.
In this posture, I wobbled just raising one foot off the ground. If I could successfully get past the wobble, I hurried through the forward bend, and landed in a yoga pose called “Balancing Stick.” I was lucky if I could hold this pose for one to two seconds.
Learning to apply focus with each move was the key to locating a sense of balance. Standing on two feet, raising both arms above the head, and behind the ears, then bending at the hips while raising one leg behind you, and keeping the standing leg Quadracept and abdomen engaged, and continually coming forward until both the arms and the leg are parallel with the ground. Viola! . Never breaking focus is the magic! I am now able to hold this pose a good 30 seconds.
Focus is the key to success, not only on the mat, but off the mat too.
Center your attention on focus and watch the magic unfold.
When I first started practicing yoga 14 years ago, needless to say, my ego guided my practice. I forced my way into and out of every posture because I wanted to prove I could. If everyone else was doing i.e. “Pigeon Pose” I should be able to. This monkey won the prize, I torqued my knee, causing unnecessary injury.
Being an observer allows you the time to connect with your body and avoid injury.
If you have never taken a yoga class or if you are already a seasoned practitioner, I recommend taking an easy flow class where the flow is at a slower pace. Moving at a slower pace gives you time to feel more and respond appropriately to your body’s messages.
When you get a sense of what your body is trying to communicate, you have the knowledge to back off or modify a position that best meets your body’s physical structure. A good instructor can assist you in making the proper adjustments.
Practicing observation will allow you to respect and honor your body’s unique design.
Don’t be a Monkey. Be yourself!
I could have easily told myself that I will be too busy the next three days working, planning for an event, and pet sitting to follow through with my 30-day challenge.
Whatever you label as a distraction is only a perception
Have you ever noticed that when you TRULY commit to something, others will do what they can to support you, and some will even join you?
The only thing that will break your commitment are the thoughts you tell yourself.
Meet Daisy on the left who is taking a break between postures, and Lucky on the right, who is practicing Sphinx pose.
When I was done with my practice, I joined them in their practice, a walk with occasional leg lifts.
The second MOST important posture is Savasana
Savasana, also known as “corpse pose” is lying flat on your back while resting your arms and legs at 45 degrees.
The benefit of this pose teaches you to surrender and relax your muscles.
I know, for me, it’s a constant practice to surrender and relax without thinking about a gazillion other things I feel I “should be doing.”
These three to fives minutes may be the only time in the day you consciously practice letting go of stress. Take the gamble.
The only side effect is bliss
The lotus pose is THE most important posture.
In this posture, I set my intention, solidifying the foundation for the rest of the class.
After I set my intention, there is a party of monkeys jumping in my head, all wanting a piece of my attention.
Applying the Ujjayi breath. A Sanskrit word meaning “victorious breath” will help bring your concentration back to your practice.
Its a constricted breath, breathing in an out of the nostrils. Some call it the “Darth Vader” breath or the “ocean” breath.
(Try whispering really loud. This will give you an idea of what the constriction feels like in the back of your throat.)
This style of breathing allows you to hear your breath and helps to calm the mind, bringing your attention within. It also helps to warm your body’s core, and prepare you for your asana practice.
As I move through each yoga posture, I am reminded that my postures have become routine. I have been going through the motions but the benefits have waned.
It’s my commitment to stay focused that’s given life back to my practice.
Just getting into a posture and holding it until I am instructed to move into the next posture is important, but so much more can be gained by being focused.
When I am focused on MY practice; I don’t compare myself to what other yogis and yoginis are doing, I see where my posture can use fine tuning, I notice when I am holding my breath and creating resistance, and I recognize at what point I can cause injury to myself.
It’s like walking into the classroom for the very first time. Everything is new and exciting.
There is so much to be gained by being present and focused.
As my friend LouAnn Thomas says, “In-joy the journey.”
If you are just now tuning in, you can go back to read my post on Dec. 31st. (A New Resolution) explaining my challenge.