Back to Basics....What Really Matters?!
Ola yogi friends, I am writing this blog after a lovely weekend celebrating my wonderful Granny's 80th birthday in Derby with my family! It really made me happy to spend such precious moments with the people I am closest to, and we made some memories that will last forever. We had an enjoyable walk around the snow kissed countryside, not to mention a few glasses of wine over some delicious meals! It really got me thinking how simple life can actually be. If we don't let those little frustrations in and we just allow for the love that connects us all to prevail, how enjoyable is life? We can't always account for the terrible things that can happen, which my family and I know all too well, so when you have the opportunity to appreciate the moment, I've learned to get in there and enjoy it, one hundred percent!
This mini epiphany got me thinking about my classes this week and how important it is to really go back to the basics. Why yoga? What really grabbed you and made you continue to practice? In my mind, its the opportunity to "just be", with no qualms, no stress, no pressure. Also, the way that the actual physical work of yoga feels so incredibly good for the body and has a similar effect on the mind. I feel that I see the world with more clarity and perspective, and my hubby would agree that I am seriously calmer and more patient since I became an avid yogi!
So, in class this week I would like to first bring my students' attention to their own personal reason for practicing yoga and set their intention through class to be aware of that, and pay attention to their alignment, breath and peace in the mind. I will be using bricks to reinforce awareness of which muscles are being used and to increase physical strength all the while remembering those key, deep Ujjayi breaths to send that fresh pranayama/life force energy around the entire body. Focus on the postures you might already be so comfortable with that you might not be mindful of your actual positioning and alignment. For example, downwards facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), plank and chaturanga dandasana, uttita parvokanasana and Warrior II (virabhadrasana II)! See if you can really push these postures to a new maximum and set the challenge to find increased depths within yourself.
Using a brick in between your legs while in plank can help to focus on identifying the adductor muscles, running along the inside of your upper thigh. These are the muscles responsible for mobility in the hips and engaging them helps strengthen the core, aids balance and also, HELLO honed, toned thighs!! A few surya namaskars with the brick in between the thighs, squeezing the inner thighs will really help to draw attention to working the right muscles in the basic yogic poses. Not that "basic" means "easy" by any stretch of the imagination, a key quote from the lovely Jason Crandell that really resonated with me is, "it doesn't matter what the pose is or how it looks, the only thing that matters is how you're doing it".
Baddha konasana (with or without your 1 year old monkey joining in) is a great pose to really be aware of your posture and also fab for opening the hips. I will be doing supta baddha konasana with a strap around the waist and ankles before savasana for ultimate passive hip opening. It is such a satisfying, calming pose for both the mind and the body.
Enjoy guys, see if you can use this week to really go back to basics. Not only in your practice, but in your lives too. Appreciate those precious moments and special people whenever you can.