Thursday, April 1, 2010

Aligning with the universe allows us to ride the winds of grace toward the center of our heart.

Practice staying connected to your heart as we introduced challenges into our asana practice! This was the theme of the Level 2 yoga class I taught at Kula on Tuesday night 7:30-9pm last week….

Rumi..."On a day when the wind is perfect the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day."

I took a Ayurveda lecture from Aaron Leitko at Flow Yoga on sunday. Aaron briefly summarized Ayurveda, which translates to mean the science of life. Ayurveda focuses on the 5 elements including earth (prithvi), water (apas, jala), fire (agni), wind (vayu), and ether (akasha, akash). Through this science we learn how to create harmony between the five elements in our body, our emotions, and our situations…When talking about the 5 elements Aaron briefly used a metaphor about a sail boat that went something like this…when we create balance between these elements, we align with the universe and through this harmonious alignment the universal winds blow our sail boat in the “right” direction. Isn’t that lovely? I am going to expand with this metaphor.

This reminded me of our yoga asana practice and more specifically Anusara yoga. Anusara (a-nu-sar-a), means “flowing with Grace,” “flowing with Nature,” “following your heart”. When we use precise alignment with our physical body in asana poses we are also aligning our mind, our heart and our spirit with the universe, as a result the universal winds blow our sail toward the center of our heart, and the center of our being. It feels like life is working with us instead of against us.

However so much of our life off the matt doesn’t align with the universe. Sometimes our actions, intentions, wants, and needs are in such contrast with each other that instead of not having the help of the universal wind, it’s like we take out the oars in our boat and start rowing away from the center.

How can our actions on and off the matt better align us so may ride the universal winds of grace toward the center of our heart? How can we not pick up the oars and row away from the center, if anything how can we oar toward the center?

Finding this alignment in our asana practice has two stages. The first stage is finding the alignment of our body, mind, heart, and spirit and noticing the harmonious effect it has on our being. The second stage is coming into this alignment and then introducing various challenges and seeing if we can maintain this clam, heart centered and luminous feeling. I love practicing this second stage because life off the matt is full of challenges. When we practice confronting challenges and maintaining a lightness of heart on the matt, when we are faced with an obstacle off the matt it becomes easier and we are more aware of not losing our center.

Suggested asanas… These poses are already challenging, remember you can practice the first stage by just maintaining alignment. Adding the variations creates more of a challenge but so is staying connected to heart. When challenges confront you in life how do you respond? Do you constrict out of the heart? Or do you use the challenge as an opportunity to connect to life more fully while maintaining balance?

•Vrksasana (Tree pose):

1.Ardha Chandrasana variation: bring the sole of the right foot to the left inner thigh with your hands in anjali mudra, experience your inner radiance. Keeping this inner shine reach your left hand toward sky, and spread your right fingers like the sun with the thumb at heart center and palm facing the left, so the right hand resembles your heart budding open like a flower. Now begin to reach your left hand toward the right, contracting the right oblique muscles and puffing the lefts ribs up as you turn the chest toward sky. Maybe switch your drishti past the left arm pit. (picture of this variation the leg is in 1/2 lotus)
2.Twist variation: hands in anjali mudra begin to twist the torso to the right, and take your drishti over your right shoulder, then twist to the left brings the drishti over the left shoulder.
3.Back bend variation: with the inner thighs moving back scoop the tail bone scope the tail bone as you lift the heart and do a bend backward, take your drishti up toward the sky. Smile
4.On a block variation: stand on a yoga block and do the same variations, quite a challenging being 2-3 inches above the ground.

•Pincha Mayurasana (foararm balance):
1.Twisting variation: while balancing on your foararms start to twist your torso to the right and then toward the left.
2.Back bend variation: while balancing on your foararms melt your heart, bring it forward, integrate shoulder loop, lift up your head smile. Then begin to reach your feet toward the front of the room.

•Hanumanasana (splits): doing a pose like hanumanasnas is challenging and we normally run into our ego and self judgment. When in Hanumanasana, no matter how far you are in the pose, can you cultivate an attitude like “where I am is perfect and beautiful!” Find your inner sparkle within this difficult pose.

•Bakasana (crow pose): balancing on your hands is a challenge, but add the extra challenge of a longer hold. Can you stay heart centered and luminous 5, 10, 20 breathes. Keep smiling.

For more information on regular Ayurveda talks visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

My Intention It is my intention as a yoga teacher to help you bring more health and vibrancy to your body, ease and alertness to your mind...