mindless flow for the sake of movement alone ? I know I did it too – those 108 sun salutations jumping through rapidly, wear yourself out, probably doing 50% all rather sloppy, just to get through, hurting my body (Chaturanga Dandasana (chah-tuur-ANGH-uh dahn-DAHS-uh-nuh)= shoulder girdle at risk) instead of healing it, strengthening it – but elated in the sense of “accomplishment” – the endorphin rush ! Some workouts resembles this – just get through it – burn calories – pump it – the rush – collapse. Is that sustainable and … kind to our body? In fact some naming of the workouts gives you the sense of false power and a rush – “Shreds!” “Rip!” “Burn!” “HIIT” “Beast” “Combat” “Box”- it’s very masculine sounding and great in motivating the … sloths … sure empowering but … what an agitation to our nervous system and strain to our cardiovascular health if pushed beyond one’s edge. Sculpting is different – it’s good.
But what would a Mindful Flow look like? Originally “sun salutation” really was a body prayer, a ritual and a sacred worship… prayer towards the divine within, towards the Higher Self, consciousness using one’s entire body to express that devotion. I experienced a touch of it for the first time when I had the privilege to take Gary Kraftsow’s workshop at Yoga Journal conference some time ago and then … now again wholeheartedly at another master teacher’s workshop couple of years ago where each asana in a vinyasa was accompanied by a chant from the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali – an amazing experience.
So why am I at the yoga wall ? Instead of flowing and jumping through one pose to the next in a vinyasa or finding stillness in each delicious yin poses? So that my yoga poses can get “adjusted” and refined, thanks to yoga wall training by Jason Cull – IAYT, ERT, who trained with PT turned Yoga Teacher – which is what I’m doing too so felt at ease right away taking this workshop. Do no harm is yoga therapist’s overarching intention so with that, of course, you feel at ease faced with rather intimidating wall full of straps and metal panels and what have you.
Here – Keeping the hips leveled, shin sliding up the wall but with thigh leveled parallel to the floor with the straps for the arms to sustain the back bend, the balance and elevated arms …Pulling on the straps actually mimics an effect of a pull up where we are working our upper arms muscles/biceps/triceps and lats … you can keep the arms at shoulders height or hands at waist with straps under arms …all depending on how your shoulders feel, listening to our body to redefine our own range of motion.
Reviewing our pattern of movements can give us some clues as to our needs as we deepen our practice – yes, some of us may want to burn calories with cardio and strengthen our muscles, the core, bringing weight management to the forefront – then ? and then what?
We may have the daily commute sitting, then sitting in front of a computer (that’s why a lot of high tech companies have standing ergonomically designed desks for their employees), then back again into the car or some transit where we sit … then instead of exercising, we may sit again to eat at the table then slouch on a couch – the western style you know where also is about … sitting on a donuts shaped ring of a chair not on the floor or in malasana (squat) to take care of business. SO cumulative sitting exacerbates the physiological load on our back. By strengthening and lengthening our back and strengthening and then releasing the core muscles with the pull-up and a back bend, we can prevent future back pain – yes? Yes. YES. a resounding yes !
What an ultimate prop this is if used correctly with the intention to adjust, lengthen and strengthen:) Great Wall of yoga at Yoga Health Center ! Likened to the Iyengar studio’s ropes on the wall where students find “freedom” in their body with the use of this support, that makes yoga even more accessible all people with different conditions.
I was reminded of that principal of stability vs. mobility, what Judith H. Lasater Phd PT often mentions in her wonderful backcare immersion course. Can you see how that relates to use of straps as we make progression into movements to free up space within?
Natural Flow returns when the body’s joints, muscles, connective tissues all work in tandem… in harmony for those signature supple fluid graceful movements. Inching my way up and down and all around, sometimes defying gravity, sometimes giving into gravity – thanks to adept support and guidance from Jason Cull and cohort yoga teachers.
In every practice, I hope to calibrate the Yang & Yin balance to find more Ease & Stability. In staging our own practice in this production called Life, variety of props lend the support we can use to grow our practice to the next level. First comes the surrendering of our ego and attachments to bring some props to serve us – to find more freedom in mobility founded on stability … support. Then, we can finally stay and hang out – over time, that time will come – as our body remembers this form, you will find yourself holding Natarajasana, Lord of Dancer’s pose – free stand in perfect balance !