Don’t tell me you can’t do yoga!
It’s amazing how many people say to me, “oh I tried yoga but I can’t do it”, or “I can’t even touch my toes”!
What are you talking about people?!!!!
These same people go to the gym or have done at some point, they might swim, or have played tennis. When they started these pursuits, was there nothing to learn at the beginning and nothing to practice in order for it to be interesting and for them to grow and improve?!
It tells me that there is some general misinformed idea of what yoga is … for a start, IT’S NOT A SPORT! In fact the whole point is that it’s not competitive at all, but rather the beginnings of us learning to accept ourselves WHEREVER WE”RE AT!
That means, whether your 18 or 80, whether you’re flexible or stiff, whether you’re trim or obese, whether you’re sick or healthy … etc etc etc … it’s the process of learning to be wherever we find ourselves, in each moment, and being present with that. It is a practice that takes courage and curiosity.
And when we stop projecting all these results and requirements, and expecting this elusive list of outcomes from ourselves, we begin to observe more, learn about ourselves more, listen to our needs more, and learn how to respond rather than living in this constant state of reaction to the stimuli around us.
With Hatha Yoga, it just so happens to be in a way where we utilise our bodies …
not to be Olympic yogis, or Yoga Journal models, but to stay connected to ourselves and self-aware, by using the body as a tool to feel and sense. You can then optionally add to that, the deeper meaningfulness to the practice of yoga, that by using our bodies in this way, we remind ourselves of the importance of our bodies, and how to care for and nourish our bodies so that we might live a life with less suffering, so our bodies support our life and lifestyle in a way that makes living life FUN, JOYFUL, or simply just ENJOYABLE!
Our yoga sequence at Pure-Li Yoga is designed to help you tie your shoe-laces, stand on one leg so you can safely put your undies on, reach that top shelf in the pantry, look over your shoulder for on-coming traffic in your car, strengthen your body to lessen the likelihood of you falling over, make sitting into and standing up from, deep low chairs easier, make rolling over and getting out of bed easier, and so on, and so on .., this is what I mean when I say our yoga supports our lifestyle. What is the point of a pretzel posture if what we are actually doing is practising how to damage our joints as we get older, and do no work on making our bodies strong?!
Recently, a few people have asked me what is HATHA YOGA?!
HATHA YOGA can be understood as a physical yoga practice, or the yoga of effort.
As opposed to RESTORATIVE YOGA, where we are actually working to get used to doing nothing with our bodies, HATHA YOGA implies we are using effort to move towards asana (postures) that work to strengthen, condition and nourish the body – not just muscles, but all the body’s systems – organs, cells, tissues, blood flow and quality, and ultimately equanimity of mind.
At Pure-Li Yoga in the GENTLE HATHA PRACTICE,
we are moving gently and mindfully through a sequence of postures that each have variations, so YOU choose which version of the posture you do, depending on your body’s wishes on each day you practice. ATHA! START WHERE YOU”RE AT!
You don’t have to be experienced, and if you are, it helps if you are experienced enough to have a beginners mind!
Every time we practise, we are different.
Moment to moment we are changing. Many things affect how we move, how we feel, how we think. What has happened just before we show up to the yoga studio, or an event that occurred twenty years ago! What we’ve eaten, with whom we’ve been interacting, what the weather is like …. all things affect how we are, and if yoga is about practising being truly present, we are listening to that and responding in a way that is going to nurture us best in each moment.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF OUR PRACTICE?
Ohhhh so many!! One large point of our practice is equanimity of mind. When we practise yoga asana (postures), we are working to strengthen the body by moving actively, in and out of each asana. This requires us to also practise focusing, listening in, welcoming sensation and being present with it. And whilst I do give plenty of instruction, I’m not interested in perfecting shapes . . .
I’m interested in facilitating each student to be their own teacher
As your guide, I can show you the benefits of moving in a particular way, or working towards a certain asana, but mostly my hope is that you experience giving yourself permission – permission to explore within each asana, maybe even within each breath.
At Pure-Li Yoga, our yoga has less to do with performing pretzel poses, and more to do with preparing your body to support your lifestyle. The yoga is not the postures . . . the yoga is the residue that’s left in your heartbodymind, after practising the postures!
So if you can’t touch your toes, bend your bloody knees!!
What we are doing, is strengthening the muscles around the joints, and moving the parts of our bodies that are stiff, encouraging blood flow to all the extremities, moving the spine to bring health, healing, and nourishment to the tissues. We are practising putting the body into positions of degrees of duress, and learning how to be present with that so we can practice breathing through stressful situations.
We are learning to be firm but calm.
By moving actively into the postures – that means not sinking into flexibility or using external forces to get us there (e.g. gravity, momentum or other parts of our bodies forcing us into the poses) – we get super strong and self- aware, by going at a pace our individual bodies can handle. We create length, strength and opening, and with regular practice, a sense of equanimity and ease, a sense of connection and coming home, a sense of peace.
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EFFORT AND FORCING.
The first tenet of the philosophy of yoga is AHIMSA – DO NO HARM. Cultivating AHIMSA or compassion towards ourselves and our practice, is integral to all YOGA practices.
Without the element of compassion it simply is not YOGA.
Can we make each asana a question, rather than a perfect shape to be ‘achieved’?
With this question percolating in our mind-body, it gives us space to find our version of each asana in each moment. There is no one right way or wrong way. There is no perfect asana for all. There is only YOUR way, we are individuals with perhaps, a common goal, but there is no end to an asana!
Do we master an asana, or do we master ourselves in it?!
Even when we are as absolutely still as we can be, we are still moving, shimmering, evolving, pulsating …
We are constantly changing and different, within each asana we move into, there is a universe to explore and adventure into! I am interested in going there!