Saturday, June 20, 2009

Practice from the Heart

It's amazing when you practice from the heart rather than just the physicality side of yoga. As a teacher, I have depended heavily on being,'perfect' in every pose according to textbooks and magazines, or even a copy of yoga master's asanas. In doing so, I have never felt a hundred percent comfortable in any pose (accept in Balasana or Shavasana) and never felt I was satisfied fully with my own practice. It didn't matter if I did 20 sun salutations according to textbook pictures, I felt something was still missing, inside and out.

Lately, after taking some time off, being a student again in the past week has taught me to look internally. What are my possibilities in all the asanas I have learnt, could I reinvent what I practice? Which part of me is the infinite and which part of me wants freedom? Which part of me finds happiness, physically, emotionally and spiritually?

Practicing with Twee Merrigan, Patrick Creelman, Maya Fiennes and Desiree Rumbaugh has made me realise I can reach out further than I can imagine, if I immerse myself, as if hypnotize, by willingness to reach deeper into my backbend with my breath following what the mind and heart says. Watching myself from the inside. It's like being on a journey to somewhere peaceful within myself when I practice surya namaskara without losing sight and gratitude of the awareness I should bring into each and every yogasanas. Learning to feel prana from the tip of my fingers, from the skin to every part that moves or stays.

In my previous practice, I have always been quick to take my form into the poses and trying to work my way into perfection. I have learned to instead create my pose with my heart, to expand from the center of myself in mind, body and soul. Taking the time to observe my movements has helped me move into the poses with awareness rather than consciousness. As B.K.S Iyengar's explains, self awareness is the opposite of self consiousness. When are you self aware, you are fully within yourself, not outside yourself looking in. You are aware of what you are doing without ego or pride.

I love B.K.S Iyengar's explanation of stretching in the asana......horizontal expansion and vertical extension should synchronize so that you are extending in all directions. Freedom in a posture is when every joint is active. Let us be full in whatever posture it is we are doing as we should be full in whatever we do in our lives.

Somehow, trikonasana hasn't been my favourite pose and have always felt restricted in it, releasing myself from it was my only joy. Lately I have found the liberation in trikonasana by not resisting the posture but to let the posture lead me instead, by letting certain parts of me freely accessible to the pose, I feel I could reach my hand further more than I could imagine.

'B.K.S Iyengar writes beautifully in his book, Light on Life. He describes doing asanas with the awareness of the body and the intelligence of the brain and heart should be in harmony. The brain may instruct the body to do a posture, but the heart has to feel it too. He says the head is the seat of intelligence; the heart is the seat of emotion. Both have to work in co operation with the body.'

"Sthira sukham asanam" Sthira means firm, fixed, steadfast, enduring, lasting, serene, calm and composed. Sukha means delight, comfort, alleviation and bliss. 'Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit.'

Ahhhhh, c'est la vie ....