As a yoga teacher and student of yoga I see a variety of students, each student coming to practice yoga with different shapes, sizes and flexibility and with their own history, injuries and stories.
We each have our own story; we each come with our own set of conditions, patterns which shape our understanding of our bodies and who we are. Each day we step on the mat we may feel different; one day feeling full of energy and vitality and on other occasions feeling drained and tired - some days we feel inspired and other days we feel like going back to bed!
Yoga helps us to undo and chip away at some of these patterns and provides us with a tool to balance the dualistic nature of body and mind. It helps us to work towards controlling our thoughts in order to move towards one mindedness and it is a powerful tool for listening to our bodies and self-transformation.
Having suffered over the years from various injuries I have learnt that listening to your body and breath is a really important part of a yoga practice; that sometimes slowing down the movements and not just pacing through the practice unconsciously are key elements in becoming more mindful. I have found in particular the importance of slow transitions (especially when injured) and exploring and holding postures for longer, so we can begin to feel the poses a little more deeply. I believe that paying attention to the transitions can really help - even in dynamic styles - to make sure that we can real feel our practice, deep within our bones.
I believe it's important to pay attention to our alignment; both when in the pose and also when transitioning between poses... Bandhas (Bandha means seal or lock) help us to hold correct alignment by creating a sealing sensation in our postures and acting as a container to help keep everything together, particularly in an inversion or balancing pose. For example in inversions we can use Mula (muscles of the perineum) and Uddiyana bandha (abdominal grip) to help support us in the pose. It can also be helpful to have a basic knowledge of the bones, muscles and joints within the body and how they work together. According to Abhinam Yoga School, (2018), having knowledge of our anatomy helps students to know which asanas are applicable to which anatomical part of the body, and which areas are at risk of injury during their yoga practice. Vulnerable areas for many include hips, knees, spine, neck shoulders and ankles.
Listening to our breathe is a crucial factor in being mindful and in slowing our practice down. It helps us to understand that the breathe is an indicator of where we are at, particularly when we're unfocused or rushing, we usually find we are not breathing properly or are entirely unaware of our breath. Making sure that we sometimes slow down so we can really pay attention to our breath can help students feel focused and grounded.
And finally, paying attention to our focus and intention and using slower movements and transitions can really help us to elevate and fine tune our practice, enable us to feel the poses deep within our bodies, and support us to gain a deeper connection to ourselves.
Feel It In Your Bones is a workshop with a focus on feeling yoga physically and internally and making every movement purposeful and deliberate. In this 2 hour workshop we will explore some standing and seated postures with the use of slow transitions and holding posture for longer, so we can feel poses more deeply in order to mindfully connect to ourselves. We will work on particular balancing postures and arm balances to help students create strength and stability to aid them to feel this in their foundation and in their bones. We will also focus on some of the major joints in the body such as hips, shoulders and knees and we will work on poses to support and strengthen theses areas.