My body and heart are beginning to feel the difference a month makes of regular yoga practice. I feel fantastic! Never better. Really. I can touch my toes in dandasana. I can reach a little further, breathe a little slower, quiet my mind faster and notice much more. I also am aware of all the I have yet to learn and be at ease with. While my legs feel stronger, my tummy feels pudgier. Despite myself, I accept I need to do more back strengthening-core activating poses (Betsy’s Hot Flow Classes…yikes) and maybe channel hungryphil away from delicious Baklava (recipe next post). This certainly will be a lifelong effort beyond the wonderful months of YTT.
Hot yoga is becoming less of a surprise. Less…gosh…its hot. Yin yoga was a new calming experience of effort and stillness.
We watched the first half of the documentary Yoga Unveiled. It offers a historical overview of the principles and systems of yoga practice. The historians and scholars in the documentary confronted the commodification and reduction of yoga to a physical exercise by offering cultural, historical and theoretical context to the practice. For example, I was surprised to learn that among a host of other introductions, the Chicago World’s Fair also introduced yoga to the west through the September 11th, 1893 lecture of Swami Vivekananda. His message of universal spirituality and tolerance was very well received at the Parliament of Religions. My task and investment in yoga teacher training seems to be getting much deeper and broader than I thought it would.
During these weeks we have also shared a lot of ourselves with our fellow yogis by talking about animals we would wish to be and guests we would invite for an imaginary dinner. Last night we were asked to share our favorite childhood picture. Betsy led us through a meditation session that involved focusing on our inner child in celebration and apology. It was difficult for me. I was surprised by the wave of emotion I felt. I chose this picture with my siblings. They are the rocks of support, love and teasing behind me. My inner child certainly needs them around.
We are discussing chapters 3,4,5 of the Heart of Yoga soon.
These are my two favorite quotes this reading section because of the emphasis on breath as the intentional and internal connection between body and mind. More on the reading discussion next week.
The quality of breath is extremely important because it expresses our inner feelings. If we are in pain it shows in our breathing. If we are distracted we loose control of our breathing. The breath is the link between inner and outer body. It only by bringing body, breath, and mind into unison that we realize the true quality of an asana.
What is yoga after all? It is something that we experience inside, deep within our being. Yoga is not an external experience. In yoga we try in every action to be as attentive as possible to everything we do. Yoga is different than dance or theatre. In yoga we are not creating something for others to look at. As we perform the various asanas we observe what we are doing and how we are doing it. We do it only for ourselves. We are both observer and what is observed at the same time. If we do not pay attention to ourselves in our practice, then we cannot call it yoga.
Wow…that was a lot for a short week of YTT!
Image below courtesy of Betsy Totti. Thank you Betsy!