Yoga is certainly more than just asana practice and yet the asana practice itself reaches far beyond the illusion of just stretching, twisting and bending. One common translation of Yoga postures, or asana, has the meaning of - seat or position comfortably held. This metaphor of position comfortably held will extend far beyond the vision of a seated yogi, or yogini, as it also reflects the physical and mental position comfortably held in life. In retrospect, yoga asana practice is the window to finding peace, awareness and happiness in everyday life.
As in all things we need a base concept and foundation in order for our idea to grow and fulfill its potential. The yoga postures are a base foundation with limitless potential of physical, mental and spiritual growth – bound only to the mind of the practitioner. Ultimately the yoga asana will develop the power and awareness, energy and perception to navigate a successful path in all of life.
When you are striving for progress with yoga asanas or daily life – more success is found in creating a balance within these six qualities. Be aware and seek the balance within; flexibility, strength, equilibrium and technique, as well as self-confidence and body types. The understanding of these six qualities will reward you with greater awareness in all of life and a successful yoga practice. Without balance, the flow within your life is disrupted. Without balance you will adopt a lack of awareness, along with physical and mental instability in all things.
The intention of stretching, lengthening and enhancing range motion of body anatomy is often referred to as flexibility. Yes, yoga can promote flexibility, although a wise teacher will embrace the use of a “Whole Body Approach“– covering all areas of the body equally. This holistic approach in stretching the body is achieved through rotating the yoga asana practice and the level of intensity, plus the use of cross training.
“In life – Learn to be flexible and change with the situation at hand.”
Flexibility of muscles, tendons, joints and connective tissue is achieved through both short and long duration stretching of Yoga asana. As a result, assisting to release lactic acid, lubricate joints, lengthen and create integrity of connective tissue and tendons, and as a bonus lessening the chance of injury.
Yoga practice will create great strengthening of the body – provided we use a “Whole Body Approach “– covering all areas of the body using strengthening exercises equally. Look into the anatomy of the individual yoga posture and see what area is engaged – then use your own practice as a study.
This balanced approach of strengthening all areas of the body is achieved through rotating the yoga asana practice and the level of intensity, plus the use of cross training and muscle resistance. Using a conscious practice of asana, you will strengthen muscles and joints, reach beyond to strengthen the organs, glands, tendons, and connective tissue, and build bone density.
“In life – Learn how become strong, yet at times strength is found in softness.”
(3) Balance - (Equilibrium)
The steadiness within yoga - is the ability to hold a posture without falling, creating steadiness and security of asana practice. The equilibrium of our amazing body anatomy is a subtle and invaluable concept in successful yoga practice.
Keep the ears free from excessive wax and watch your sugar intake, these can lead to failure in the internal ballast of Human anatomy. Enhanced balance is also complemented through improving greater range of motion and strength plus the simple concept of breathing with awareness. Using a format to target specific areas, cross-training with yoga and other exercises will greatly improve your equilibrium.
You are what you eat and if your diet consists largely of sugar and junk food – this can greatly affect the brain and glandular system, which in turn leads to poor balance. Using varied angles of practice surface, rotating soft and hard practice surfaces, and a variety of muscle resistance exercise - will all assist in enhanced equilibrium. Another technique is to practice yoga in the sand or in a very dark room, which has been successful to improve enhancing balance and self-confidence.
“In Life – Enhanced symmetry is achieved through integrity and awareness of; body and mind. This symmetry being achieved thru conscious vision of physical anatomy, laced with slow deep breathing. Furthermore success will be elevated by the use of enhanced diet in combination with regular physical exercise within a conducive environmental atmosphere.”
The awareness and approach to each individual yoga asana and the building of a strong foundation in each pose is the concept for technique in yoga posture practice. Enhanced technique is achieved through gaining awareness of structure alignment in each and every yoga asana – with an individual approach for different body types. For example; if you build a house with an inadequate foundation, it will have a good chance of falling down, so we should think like an architect when we build our supportive foundation of yoga postures.
Your alignment will benefit by the idea of practicing in front of a mirror, as you simultaneously use a reference yoga book, of suggested posture models. In many occasions, yoga props and (teacher assisted) yoga adjustments will also be a great benefit in learning proper base foundations of yoga postures. Watch other students and teachers as they practice yoga - be aware of their technique and observe from different angles, this is invaluable for your own technique and education as well.
In Life – “Technique is the manner in which you choose to live, think, and act, along with the way to choose to treat others. This life technique should always be a work in progress being achieved thru the willingness to learn. If we want to see our future - We should all "Listen to our thoughts in the way clouds should listen the wind… as destiny awaits.”
(5) Self Confidence
In yoga practice, you and your students, should always focus on being an optimist, by thinking of ways to succeed, opposed of thinking of ways to fail. Furthermore, once you learn how to fall gently, and gracefully, from your asana, concept of thought, it becomes a successful learning experience. In your next attempt, you have new reassurance for success.
The following techniques are most beneficial to assist in self-confidence.
We will build success by practicing easy-to-achieve asanas, plus encouraging the students to think of the quality of their practice, rather than the depth, or intensity. This refers to feeling good about your yoga practice, at any level. Become accomplished in a few easy-to-achieve yoga postures, before you reach for the difficult ones, this will build confidence for the grander task. Support and encouragement of your friends and teachers will also serve to increase self-confidence and motivation.
Meditation in itself will build self-confidence, along with the use of yoga props also complement building confidence and self-esteem. On occasion demonstrate a yoga posture or two in front of your friends, or fellow practice partners, this will often inspire the greater sense of self- confidence. Most importantly, teach your students keep learning and strive to think more for themselves, instead of always relying upon the i-phone, or others for solutions. As a new teacher is born :)
In Life – “Self Confidence and positive thinking are essential principles for success in all aspects of daily existence. Although, too much self-confidence can manifest the reverse outcome, encouraging stress, confusion and lack of common sense. Seeking balance within self-confidence is the wise path to cultivate mindful success.
(6) Body Type
Body type refers to your unique body anatomy, bone and muscle structure, height, weight and overall genetics. There is no exact blue print for success of a posture, due to differing body types, so the individual approach should be modified to accommodate the variation in body anatomy.
Yoga props are also very helpful to compensate for yoga postures which are not best suited for certain body types. Last but not least, encourage your student to observe other students, or teachers with similar body types with how they approach a yoga posture.
I personally recommend Paul Grilley’s DVD on anatomy – which addresses the different body types related to yoga practice. RE: Viewing a famous yoga teacher on the cover of a magazine – with a beautiful yoga posture. Should you be able to look the same? Well just remember, to also look at their body type and check to see if their body is exactly like yours, if not, then you need to adopt a slightly different approach. Somewhere out there is a yoga asana with your name on it, this asana will make you look like a rock star. And yet, somewhere out there is another yoga posture which always eludes your embrace and we say: Bites you in the asana.
“In Life – Body Types relates to the larger picture of one’s ability to see yourself as an individual within the light of truth, and at the same time being able to see yourself thru the eyes of others. If you cannot see yourself, the (good and the bad) then you are driving at night without your headlights on. In addition, if you cannot see yourself, then will never be able to see others. Furthermore, most people live their whole life in the manor they believe will best please others, and in doing so have never really lived their own life.”
In your own life, much like the whole universe ~
Exist the essential balance ~
In order to create harmony within ~