Thursday, March 8, 2012

Your yoga practice is perfect just the way it is today

This might sound a bit cheesy but can you try to practice with the notion that you are perfect just the way you are, that your yoga practice is perfect just the way it is today, that there is nowhere to go, nothing more to strive for. That yoga isn't something that happens when you finally get into that challenging armbalance or when you can sit in meditation for several minutes in stillness without your mind racing in the speed of a Ducati on the highway..

Can you try to grasp the idea that there is nowhere to go, nothing to aim for but being in the present moment? And that this moment is perfect just the way it is, with all its' flaws and imperfections. That your yoga practice is perfect with all your bodily aches and stiffnesses. Yoga is presence. Yoga is here and now. A practice of awareness and mindfullness.

I teach alignment based flow classes; meaning that I focus on alignment and details in the poses as well as dynamic movements. This focus on alignment helps us to be safe in the various poses, it helps us to avoid injuries and it enables us to come as deep and correct into the asanas (poses) as possible.
But we also use this focus on details and alignment as a tool for meditation, in order for us to become more present in the HERE AND NOW. How so? We shift our focus from our never ending stream of thoughts; our monkey minds that wander from thoughts to thoughts, to bodily awareness. Our bodies are something concrete, something tangable and easy for the mind to grasp. Something gross as oppose to something subtle. We can see, touch and feel our bodies as oppose to more subtle aspects of our beings such as our thoughts, feelings, levels of energy.

So by focusing on different parts of the body at the same time; like in Warrior 2...all four corners of the feet pressing equally down in the mat, the front thight being paralell to the floor, the front knee pointing to the pinkie toe, our arms elongating out to the sides etc.. focusing on these different parts of the body all at the same time becomes then a meditation of its' own; our fluctuating minds might become still for a while and we get into the present moment through our bodies. Like Mr Iyengar said; 'Focusing on one point is concentration, focusing on several points at the same time is meditation'.

This said there is no doubt then that alignment-based yoga is something that appeals to me; both in my own practice and in my teaching. However, this focus can sometimes make me forget the most essential part of yoga; that yoga is presence, something happening here and now... yoga is doing and being at the same time, yoga is a state of mind, a practice of awareness and mindfullness. And it's not so much about mastering that challenging pose or having to practice 90 minutes 6 days a week to be a able to call my practice a genuine yoga practice.
This is what yoga is to me anyhow, it might feel different for you.

So my practice is perfect just the way it is today, with all it's flaws and imperfections. No where to go, nothing to strive for except for being in the present moment.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness

So Danielle Lee, a New York based yoga teacher described this time of year so well by quoting Charles Dickens' famous lines; "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..." . 
This Christmas is different. It's the first one without my father, and I have missed him profoundly the last couple of days. And despite the sorrow there is also much light and beauty; celebrating with my nephews fill me with love, much laughter and a whole lot of lego building:)

It is as if life's different aspects become clearer, sharper, more raw these days. The grief is more intense, the beauty even more beautiful. I love that a day can contain it all, just as much as I love diversity and complexity in other beings.

And amidst the people, food, presents, grief and laughter that fill these Christmas days,  I have my pratice. This lovely pratice that leaves me feeling peaceful and at ease. I roll out my mat and start moving; slowly, softly. These are not the days of a vigerous yoga style. By linking breath and movement; gently opening, streaching, releasing, I feel more equipped to handle all the different aspects of emotions that this season contains. 

So, where ever you are, whether you feel drained emotionally or just physically by eating too much ribbe and marispan; see for yourself how it feels to roll out your mat and gently start linking your breath with your movements. No need for a long practice, just simly tap inwards, reconnect with your body and your mind for a few minutes every day this holiday season. And notice how that makes you feel afterwards. 

I hope your Christmas is one of light and love.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The morning wind

The morning wind spreads its fresh smell. We must get up and take that in, that wind that let us live. Breathe before it's gone.


Dreamy and beautiful

Morning Bliss

I started my day bright and early with a 90 minutes practice of Ashtanga yoga. It was still very dark out, my body felt unnormally stiff and my joints achy, but after moving my body and breathing deeply my joints became gradually lubricated and by the third Surya Namaskara B, sweat was dripping from my forehead and I had forgotten all about how appealing my bed seemed when the alarmclock rang earlier on.
Ah, the beauty of a morning practice!
Although my practice is concistent, and I do my yoga 6 out of 7 days a week, I rarely do it in the mornings. I normally prefer late afternoons and evenings. But there is truely something to be said about getting down on your mat in the early hours of the day, when the only light you see are the flickerings of the candles in front of you. There is a special energy this time of day, and although the body is more stiff in the mornings our minds tend to be calmer and more receptive to go into a deeper meditative state.

My practice this morning was deep, sharp and fullfilling, and with my sences being stronger, my body smoother and my mind harmonious; it made the best foundation for the rest of the day.
So this is my yogic challenge to myself, and to you dear yogis. I will get up earlier than usual each morning until Christmas, roll out my mat, light my candles and start my day with this dynamic form of meditation. As you might know, I am not an Ashtanga practitioner; I practice and teach vinyasa flow (a dynamic form of yoga, where, like in Ashtanga, breath and movement are linked together but there is no specific sequence one follows each time). However; Ashtanga has a strong appeal to me; so I will for the next 6 weeks start my day with the Primary Series of Ashtanga. I want to commit to it until Christmas, so that I can go deeper and further, and to get a better understanding of what it's all about I believe that concistency over an extended period of time is the key.

I also challenge you to take on a morning routine of your own, each morning until the holidays. Not necessarily a 90 minutes Ashtanga practice; how about rolling out your mat, doing some rounds of Sun Salutations before you sit down for a seated meditation or some pranayama (breathing excercises) for 5 or 10 minutes. And see what happens as you start your day by breathing, moving, meditating. It sets such a good tone for the rest of your day!

Early winter mornings are tougher than bright summer mornings, but luckily there are things to do that make them smoother; Light candles, a lot of them. Drink a cup of hot water with some lemon, ginger and honey or your favourite tea before you start your practice. Make sure you're warm; so cover your body with warm clothes, and remove layes as you get warmer and start moving. If you're very cold and your joints are achy, a hot shower can feel good. Remember to practice on an empty stomack. My sences are stronger after yoga, and food always tastes better when I've practice. So after you've rolled up your mat, make something nutritionous and tasty for yourself, sit down in reverie and enjoy every bit before moving on out into your day. And maybe you'll find that there is yoga in everything. That yoga is not simply just a verb; something that you do but also a state of being.

Happy Blissful Mornings everybody <3

And if you're in class please don't hesitate to ask; I'll gladly make a morning sequence for you!