Practice, Not Perfection
by Rachel Wilson
One key quality for the yoga student to develop is a sense of patience in practice. Somehow, in our fast-paced, goal-oriented society, we easily forget about the process of practice and have begun to classify even yoga as something we must successfully accomplish. Not only do we want to succeed at this practice, but we want to nail every pose and every breath at the exact right moment, the first time and every time thereafter.
Yoga, like most things in life, isn't about how far we advance on the mat or into a pose, and there is never a need to bring a hurried or competitive sense to the experience. The postures are useful and beneficial for a myriad of reasons, but more important are the small and large shifts that can occur in our deeper layers of being when we offer some of our time to practice. The nudge into a more expanded consciousness, subtle transformation of character, gentle assimilation of ideas and increased broadening of awareness that occur are the real markers of progress in yoga, and these things take at least as much time as loosening up tight hip flexors, so the rushed mentality is one that we can drop. - excerpt from Om My Yoga
Knees hurt? Try puppy pose with towels under knees instead of child's pose.
Garland Pose - Malasana
© Barry Stone
Also known as: Squat
Type of pose: Hip opener
Benefits: Opens the hips and groin
1. Come to stand with the feet about mat's width apart.
2. Bend the knees, coming into a squat.
3. Keep the feet as close to parallel as possible.
4. Take the upper arms inside your knees and bend the elbows. Bring the palms together into prayer position.
5. Try to bring the hands to your heart center with the forearms parallel to the floor to open the knees slightly.
6. Keep the spine straight and shoulders relaxed.
7. Stay here for five breaths, then straighten the legs to come out.
Beginners: Bring a folded blanket under your heels for support if your heels come up when you squat. This is better than trying to balance on the balls of your feet.
Advanced: If your feet are parallel, work on bringing them closer together.
What is a Mantra? A sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.” The Sanskrit word mantra consists of the root man- “to think” (also in manas “mind”) and the suffix -tra, meaning “tools or instruments”, hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”.
What is Bija Mantra? Bija means seed. “The Bija mantras are one-syllable seed sounds that, when said aloud, activate the energy of the chakras in order to purify & balance the mind & body. When you speak the bija mantras, you resonate with the energy of the associated chakra, helping you focus upon your own instinctive awareness of your body & its needs.”
What is a chakra? In Sanskrit, chakra translates into “wheel”. These “wheels” can be thought of as vortexes that both receive & radiate energy. There are 7 major energy centers (aka chakras) in the human body. They run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Emotions, physical health, & mental clarity affect how well each chakra can filter energy. This in turn dictates how pure the energy is that’s emitted from different regions of the body.
In traditional Hatha Yoga, the 7 cleansing bija mantras associated with the chakras are:
- “LAM”- chakra 1 (root)
- “VAM”- chakra 2 (sacral/navel)
- “RAM”- chakra 3 (solar plexus)
- “YAM”- chakra 4 (heart)
- “HAM”- chakra 5 (throat)
- “OM”- chakra 6 (third eye/brow)
- “OM”- chakra 7 (crown)
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Downward (and out) Charlotte. The gist of yoga nidra.
Your whole life is a rehearsal for the moment you are in now.
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