So… Week 3!
We mixed it up somewhat and deviated from the plan a little. Just like having a physical injury, we need to adapt our exercise regime or lifestyle to cope with that injury. In yoga too, we adapt our practice to cope with feelings or emotions that have arisen.
That is why this week’s theme switched to Abhyasa & Vairagya. Abhyasa means effort, work, discipline and Vairagya means surrender or let go. These yogic concepts are in opposition to each other but hopefully you saw from todays practice that they work so well together and how much we need a balance of the two.
We need Abhyasa to achieve things. We cannot perfect our yoga asanas without some effort and discipline, this bodes true for anything we want to achieve in life, whether its learning a new physical skill like cooking, educational learning or even personal growth. However, giving too much effort to something or using effort on the wrong things can be draining to our minds and a disservice to our bodies. Spending too much effort on worrying can cause stress and anxiety. Which is why we also need Vairagya!
Vairagya means surrender or to let go. There are times when what happens to us is out of our control. It is these times we need to let go of and let Mother Nature or the ‘powers that be’ do its thing. If you take this concept in a practical sense to your yoga practice on the mat, it would be like tensing the muscles in your face or around your jaw while holding Downward Dog. It won’t serve you, it doesn’t make any difference, so let it go.
In yoga asana’s we can channel both energy in most poses. The strong warrior poses for example, it takes effort, work and disciplined practice to achieve the pose. Out feet, legs and core are efforting. However, facial muscles, shoulder blades or holding on to our breath, are not needed so we can soften and surrender these.
Using this theme we worked on Vrksasana (Tree Pose), focusing on rooting our standing foot into the ground, standing tall and the feeling of lightness in our upper body.
We added a bit more on to our Sun Salutations this week. You can find the video of this online here
Below are some of the new poses we introduced this week.
Virabhadrasana I / Warrior I
- Similar feet to Warrior II but some prefer a wider stance as in Warrior I the upper body faces forward and this is easier to achieve when stance is wider
- Navel to spine to activate core
- Feet push into the ground as the upper body grows tall
Stretches the back hip and hamstring, strengthens legs and core, tones arms.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Bridge Pose
- Feet under knees, knees and shins facing forward. Knees remain in line with thigh when lifted
- Push into the feet, hands and backs or arms to lift bum and lower back off the mat
- Keep your head straight to protect the neck and spine
Strengthens the back body, strengthens legs and core. A mini backbend.
Yoga Style of the week:
Ashtanga Yoga is a traditional style of yoga that comprises of a set sequence of poses. It is physically demanding and you will follow the same sequence at every class, anywhere you are in the world. It consists of three levels of difficulty and the most common practiced series is called the Primary Series. It takes approximately 90 minutes to complete the Primary Series.
The Ashtanga Series is fantastic for those that need a more energetic practice to exhaust their body and for those that like to practice the same sequence over and over so they can measure their growth in the poses.
You won’t often find this style of yoga in gyms but instead in Yoga Studios and dedicated Ashtanga Studios all over the world.
Sanskrit word of the week:
Pranayama means breath control. Controlling the breath can consist of controlling the inhale, exhales and pauses in between them. There are lots of traditional breathing techniques used in yoga to achieve different outcomes. The Yoga Sutras suggest that controlling the breath can help achieve a meditative state.
We have already used the Equal Breath technique (inhale and exhale are same length) to balance our energy and mood. This week we focused on the longer exhale to promote cooling, calming, relaxing energy. Over the next few weeks we will experiment with a few more. Find the one you like or one that suits your mood.