I recently took one of the worst practices I have ever attended. Had I been in the back of the room I may have walked out. I wasn’t. I was second row and far from the door. I had to make a decision and I chose to stay and do my own practice. I have never done that before. I have walked out of a poorly guided practice, just once. As a teacher I am comfortable allowing those who join my guided classes vary the postures, within reason, but if someone in one of my classes began doing completely different postures than the ones I was suggesting I would definitely be concerned.
Symmetry Is Important
Vinyasa translates to mean configuration, order, connection, composition. It is often translated as "a sequence of postures linked together to create flow." If you watch video of B.K.S. Iyengar you can see him both working slowly on the technique of the postures and then demonstrating that technique in Vinyasa.
Technique is the key to the grace and control of a postural flow. Each movement begins and ends in the same way. Everything done on the left, is then repeated on the right. The symmetry of the sequence and in technique creates the beauty of Vinyasa.
Learn How Your Body Moves
Have you tried belly dancing? Pole dancing? Ballet? Attempting any of these without first establishing the roots of the movements can result in serious injury. Yoga Asana should be seen in the same light. Don't jump into a Vinyasa practice. Learn how to move intelligently and then slowly increase the pace.
A rapid paced series of movements are useful when you already understand how to go though them slowly. Taking your time to feel each muscle engage and release, support and expand, gives you the awareness necessary to move more and more quickly in safe ways.
Find a Knowledgeable Guide
Thousands of people are now calling themselves Yoga instructors. Thousands of training programs exist. Thousands of Vinyasa classes are available. How are you to choose the "right" one?
Instead, begin with a more simple practice like Hatha. Even if you aren't new to the practice. These classes will help you to develop the roots you will need. The teacher should allow you the time to find and remain in the posture an experience all that happens while you are there. The sequence may repeat and build as you move through each new series. As you gain prowess in the postures, you can ask your teacher what class is most appropriate for you to attempt next.
Afterward, You Should Feel Good
After a quality Vinyasa practice you should not feel like you've had your ass kicked and a good workout. You should not be exhausted and beat up. Because you have prepared your body, mind and energy, the flow of movement and breath should give you a sense of inner awareness and depth of self. Your body should feel supple, your mind quiet. As you rest in savasana you may experience Nidra.
If you are ready to learn Asana techniques that will help you move toward Vinyasa join the practice at Lake Tahoe Yoga. Not sure where to begin? Contact us for suggestions.
Ashta Anga refers to the eight limbs of Yoga. According to the ancient texts, “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali,” and “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” all eight must be practiced in order for Yoga to occur. Yoga is both the means and the end. It is the combination of the practices of right action, speech and thought. What is right is defined by the eight limbs. When we follow the guidelines provided by the ancient Yogis we are more likely to be upon the right path.
The Right Practice for You
Every body is different and each one of us is unique. Just because all of your friends are taking “Hot Yoga” or “Vinyasa,” style classes that does not mean it is the right practice for you. In fact, it is rare that a hot or active practice is the best place for any of us to begin. The additional stress placed upon your body due to warm temperatures and new, challenging movements can actually hurt you. As with anything new, your first Yoga practice should be slow and well directed. You should be given the opportunity to attempt simple movements, ask questions and provide feedback to your teacher about how you are feeling throughout the session.
Living in Pain
I began practicing Yoga because all of my friends were enrolled in the class and it fulfilled a course requirement. I continued practicing because it initially reduced and then eliminated my debilitating back pain.
My pain had begun in high school as a result of scoliosis and growth spurts while competitively running in track and cross country. I continued to run while in college and continued to damage my back further. Adding insult to injury; my role as a teacher for children with autism required that I lean forward to reach desks and be at eye level with my students. There were days during which, due to the pain, I couldn't stand up straight, sit comfortably or sleep.
Yoga for Healing
Yoga Asana as well as the calming effects of breathing consciously and mindfulness practices helped me to heal. The movement was the perfect prescription for my back. The breathing helped me to remain calm when managing stressful situations and aggressive students. The mindfulness practices helped me learn to slow down and focus so that I could pause before putting my body into an unsafe position or activity.
As I continued to practice I learned the differences between the various modern styles and began to explore the various practices. When I met my teacher, in New York, I was granted access to the lineage of Rajahatha Yoga and began to develop my own practices in a way that best works for my life.
Continuing the Healing
Although I enjoy attending group classes at Yoga studios, my personal practice is what keeps me healthy. I spend less time moving actively and more time slowing down. The more slowly I move, the more awareness I have, and the better I am at addressing whatever issues; physical, emotional, energetic or mindful, that I am dealing with.
If you are ready to begin healing and to feel better through Yoga you might consider seeking out a teacher who has experience in more than just teaching classes. That which you experience physically could be a manifestation of something deeper and vice versa. Seek someone who can offer more than just poses. Find a Guru: a guide who sheds light where it is currently darkness.