After practicing a rigorous power flow, often times I felt more agitated than when I entered the room. Where was this feeling of “restored” and “renewed” everyone talked about? What I realized was this: I needed to do a little more self discovery in order to find a way to let go and enjoy that delicious balance. The class couldn’t do it for me.
Here are five simple ways to incorporate surrender into your power practice.
1. Are You Breathing Over There?
It seems redundant to keep reminding ourselves to do something our bodies were built to do naturally, but with yoga comes the conscious linking of the breath to movement. Ideally, we are syncing the breath and creating a seamless flow of energy. However, during a fast-paced flow, the heart gets pumping, and our desire to move kicks in. Chances are you will have a harder time holding a pose if the breath is labored. Maybe find some stillness the next time you take Extended Side Angle, and close the eyes, settle in and really feel your breath, even if it means missing half a beat. Don’t worry, I hear there is a 30-breath hold in Navasana today.
2. Child’s Pose Is Not a Four Lettered Word
The body and practice change day to day. Sometimes you feel like you could Chaturanga all day and not break a sweat. Others, you struggle with Triangle, and when did Half Moon become near impossible?
Child’s Pose is the ultimate reset button. It gives your body a quick rest and time to sync up again with the breath. Take the time to reconnect with what your practice truly is to you and bring that renewed sense of purpose back to your mat. Now you are refreshed and ready to jump back in. Remember, your neighbors are too focused on not falling in Revolved Half Moon to have noticed.
3. It’s Not You, It’s Me
For months I was determined to master my handstand. Every class was based on how close I was to dominating this particular pose, so I could essentially check it off my yoga to-do list.
If your sole purpose is to master that (insert nemesis pose here), you are missing the whole point. Give that nemesis pose some breathing room. With all that determination may come frustration and an attachment that you begin to build into the pose. This doesn’t mean don’t try, because yoga is a practice. But, come at it from a place of learning -- not conquering.
It should bring some joy and lightness into your practice, not defeat. If that (we do not speak its name) pose is weighing you down or has become a bit of a yoga albatross, then take some time off. Reconnect and establish new roots in Tree or Warrior III. Chances are, these poses felt a little neglected anyway.
PS: The handstand and I are still seeing other poses.
4. Restorative (Yin) Yoga Is Not for Sissies
I admit I thought this restorative stuff was going to be like a toddler daycare nap. I mean, look at those props! Blankets, bolsters, sand bags... oh my! It just seemed like the recipe for a little shut eye and a claim to practice yoga. This is the perfect yin (pun intended) to your intense power flow yang.
Restorative yoga teaches the body how to relax, releasing tension and eliminating fatigue. The body then becomes less prone to stress-related illness. But, don’t be fooled into thinking you will be whisked away into a light restful slumber; this yin is no joke! It takes intense focus to hold and find stillness in these poses that require disciplined breath control and muscle awareness. Still think this stretching stuff seems easy? Try holding frog for five minutes….
5. Savasana -- ’Nuff Said
So, you can’t fit in an entire restorative class? Lucky for you there is a pose built right in. Savasana was a pose I used to skip, because once my yoga workout was done, it was on to the list of errands I had to run. When I finally stopped and took the time to indulge, it was like a small slice of heaven. Like chocolate cake without the calories or the inevitable sugar crash. Physically, this is when the body can start to process what it has learned. Mentally, for those minutes I could just simply melt to my mat and enjoy that yoga buzz I had been creating all through class.