When I teach yoga I like to encourage my students to FEEL THEIR BODY, to really use the time to connect with the breath and their senses (that is what the practice is about).
This is the list of things I have learned and practice in my daily life, my practice, and WHEN I TEACH.
*You are responsible for your body
This is the biggest thing to understand as a human being and one of the biggest lessons to learn, YOU are responsible for yourself. When it comes to your yoga practice NO matter what the teacher says you are not being forced to be in any asana.
This is the BIG reminder to connect with your body. It will never lie to you.
*EVERY yoga pose CAN be practiced standing, sitting, and laying down.
Every action of your daily life can be turned into a yoga practice, If you sit with awareness, your core should be engaged, the spine should be neutral, the shoulders are relaxed, you are breathing fully; This is the power of understanding what yoga is about.
It is also about understanding you could be at a yoga studio tired and practice laying down, you could be on a wheelchair and you can practice yoga.
If you don't believe me TRY IT!
*Engage your core to protect your spine
Any time when you are awake and active your core must be engaged.
Would you like to strengthen your core? Be aware of it, The spine is not solely responsible for the load of the torso, it is the core.
The core doesn't get strong by just doing crunches, it is all about awareness!
Like I said before IF we are sitting down with awareness, the core is engaged!
*Bend the knees to protect your spine
Most of us have a little or a lot of hyperflexion of the knees happening in our bodies, this causes knee and back pain.
When you are folding forward bend the knees a little.
If you have low back pain when folding forward bend the knees as much as you need, feel up to what amount of bending the knees the pain goes away.
When you stand, feel, really feel the back of your knees. If there is discomfort, bend the knees a little.
*Yoga is NOT pain in your joints or injury.
This is my personal vendetta with everyone that goes to the doctor and says, "I was doing Yoga and I hurt my ..." NO! YOU WERE NOT DOING YOGA.
Yoga is about awareness, yoga is about understanding the feelings in the body and the quality of the breath, yoga is about understanding "when the ego takes over, what is lost"
*If your eyes can see it your body will follow
Your spine moves in the direction of your eyes, this is about understanding "What are we trying to do to the spine and the muscles of the body"
The first few many years of the practice we are trying to lengthen the spine, we are trying to learn "how to take the load of weight from the spine.
It is about understanding how the eyes can lighten the effort if we "look up" or sink the weight of the body when we "look down", how we can twist deeper when we "look towards the corners of the eyes"
*Keep your eyes focused
This is about taking the last step deeper, are you "looking at what everyone else is doing in the room? YOUR eyes are not focused.
This is about learning to steady the eyes to rest them, this is about learning NOT to be bothered by the outside world, It is also deeply connected to our cultivation of discipline.
Eyes focused on one point in the direction you want the body and the energy to go.
*Slow controlled breath
The breath is connected to the soul, the subtle body, the energy that tells us in a subtle feeling if we are getting sick, tired, hungry, or when something is not right.
The breath is the base of the practice, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE POSE, It is about the conversation of the breath and the movement.
It is about being able to easily and freely breathe and move, the balance of the inhale and exhale, and the understanding of "what happens in the body when we inhale and exhale".
How deep can we go into a pose with the strength and relaxation of the breath?
*Inhale on your way UP and backbends
Upward and backbend movements are expansive and so the inhales. the inhale propels us forward, gives us strength and length.
The inhale is related to the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) AKA active state of mind, alertness.
Inhale to lengthen
*Exhale on your way down and rounding the spine
Forward folds and any movement down is an opportunity to rest and relax, during the yoga practice we are bringing those two movements and energies (the inhale and exhale) into the movement and the asana (pose)
The exhale is related to the parasympathetic nervous response; Rest, and digest.
During the exhale, Moola bandha should be activated.
Exhale to relax.
*Don't EVER let what you CAN'T do stop you from doing what you CAN do
This is what most of us struggle to understand.
Where the real mind game and self-awareness work will happen.
What do we do when a pose is cued and the body is tight or weak?
What is the conversation that the ego starts to have when feelings start to arise?
Do you come back or not to a class because it was too hard or too easy?
Do you use props?
Are you fully aware of the breath and the reactions of the mind?
*Rest when you need to rest
As above so below! How you breathe is a reflection of how you practice, how you practice is a reflection of how you live!
Do you give yourself time to rest in your daily life?
What do you call REST?
*Do what is best for you even if it is not cued
This is where injuries will happen or not, this is where the real understanding of the practice will happen, the connection between body, mind, and spirit. Are we all going through the movements just because that is what we are told?
I am going to dare to say this, "every yoga teacher is cueing from the experience of their own practice and the place of where we are right now and the books we read"
Here is where the awareness of breath, feeling of shoulders, core, joints, and mind will meet OR NOT.
Do you use props?
*I am not going to tell you that what you are doing is "wrong" because I do not know your body
As a teacher, with everything I have stated above, here, is where I have learned to let go of wanting to correct students and let go of control, This is where as teachers and humans beings we will learn to let people DO WHAT IS BEST FOR THEM without doubting THAT THEY KNOW EXACTLY WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY WANT.
This is the place that has given me a little struggle and maybe also other teachers when from the perspective of our eyes we think the student is trying too hard, too little, too uncomfortable, or injuring themselves.
I can tell you this, from the front of the room we can see if you are breathing or not, we can see if your face is tight, we can see if the joints are collapsing, we will cue to remind you and make you aware of all of this but remember what I said at the beginning? YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF.
*I believe that everything you do is correct
As a teacher, I will approach you ONLY if I think you may be injuring yourself or if you have been a student that I have no doubt I can help go a little deeper into a stretch and I am allowed to touch you.
*I am going to keep reminding you
Breathe through your nose
Close your mouth
Protect your joints
Relax your face
Shoulders softly toward the waist.
If you live in Memphis join us every Monday at 7:30 pm and Wednesday at 4:00 pm for YIN at Delta Groove Yoga.
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