Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Observations from my mat

some observations....

Getting in the zone:
I move through the 5 universal principles of alignment: open to Grace, muscle energy, expanding spiral, contracting spiral, organic energy, and then move through secondary principles like the seven loops, bandhas..

Often to find Open to Grace I will say some prayers in my head. Ill l sometimes say the serenity prayers (God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference) or the 3rd step prayer (God, I offer myself to thee-- to build with me and do with me e as Though wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will...) These prayers help me remember the bigger picture, taking me out of "its all about me, and whats the biggest variation of the pose so I can be the best" and instead help me remember why I practice and help me surrender myself to the flow of Grace. This also cultivates the actions of 1st principle: My side bodies naturally lengthen, my inner body expands, outer body softens, and I feel connected to earth/my foundation as I come back to the remembrance of a power greater then myself.

One way I cultivate muscle energy is by bending both legs and isometrically drag them to the mid line from the sides and front and back. This gets much better results for me then keeping the leg or legs straight say in trikonasana, parsvatonasana, uptivista konasana... It also helps me create more expansion in  the pelvis, then keeping the tone and the openness I extend my legs and start contracting spiral...  Also in muscle energy I am a big touch-er on my own mat. I am not afraid to investigate and feel with my hands different body parts to check and see if they are doing what I am wanting them to do. This has been duper helpful. For example for a while I thought I was engaging my hamstrings in glutes in certain poses but with further investigation I discovered that although I thought I was engaging them nothing was happening. I had to learn tricks, like push into the front of the heel for glutes, and pushing into the heel isometrically drag the leg backwards for hamstrings.

Ill be in a pose applying the refinements and feeling the bliss that comes when my muscles, bones and breath are flowing toward optimal alignment. But I notice that I am using a lot of effort and my pose is laking that "outer body soft" refinement of first principle. In my head I will think "my skin is so soft, like Velvet, light, soft, smooth Velvet.." or "my skin is like a flower petal, soft and smooth, with dew drops, such soft petal like skin, oh and I can feel the sun shining on my petal skin". This sounds silly especially when I verbalize it, but it does bring a flavor (rasa) of soft sweetness to my poses.

Once I am in the zone:
My breath with deepen. Everything feels like it flows better. Aw I wish I could put in words the "this is the place" feeling I get when I am close to optimal blue print.

A fun thing I have been noticing lately is that my fingers will wiggle gracefully with enthusiasm, aka jazz hands.

Not a new observation, but a good reminder, is that once I am in the zone, NOTHING SHOULD HURT. I practice for a lot of years coming into "the final version of the pose" and I would feel pain and pinching in certain body parts (often my lumbar spine) but that thought that came with the pose. It wasn't until I started practice Anusara Yoga, this alignment based practice rocks. Now I know if something hurts I need to back out of the pose, refine refine refine and deepen, and if  pain or discomfort persists I should hold a modified version of the pose.

Its been such a cool experiencing of watching myself unfold and evolve through this practice of opening, engaging, expanding, contracting, extending. In the Anusara tradition, optimal freedom, stability, and self-recognition are created in yoga poses by systematically applying a series of alignment principles in a sequential order. Those principles are constant, and applicable to every human body in every yoga pose. There is artistry in their application to individual bodies.

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