As I read Desikachar's The Heart Of Yoga, he writes about going very gently into postures, only as far as we can go without changing the depth and quality of the breath. I find this in contrast to the Bikram philosophy that we are capable of far more than we think, so we should push ourselves past our comfort. Only then will we even approach what we are truly capable of. I find myself torn between these two philosophies, but leaning a bit toward Bikram's.
So often, our physical body manifests the fears of our ego. We find backbending difficult, deep stretching of the hips is frightening and uncomfortable. These are places in our body that have become shelters for emotional distress and neurological self-soothing. If we are to unify the body and mind, we must be courageous enough to approach, experience and face discomfort and fear head on.
When I practice postures, I strive to have a clear, calm and courageous mind. Some say that the breath is a signifier of the state of the mind, but I don't agree. The breath is a physical action, moved by muscles that might be compressed, extended or twisted. So the nature of the breath can change. But the mind can maintain its calm observation and connection throughout.
The breath is a signifier of what is happening physically - how much we are pushing, how comfortable we are or how extended. But I can be in a posture, physically uncomfortable and extended, and still have a calm observing mind. Perhaps even more 'out there' - there may be a separation between two minds during practice. One mind is my ego, full of pride and fear. The other is calm and observant, connecting with my body, noting pain or discomfort, both patient and unafraid.
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This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga