So often, when people think of “yoga” they think only of the physical portion, or the asanas. While the asanas are an important part of yoga, they are not the only part. As I’ve been practicing yoga more and more, I am noticing how it is affecting my life. Since doing yoga regularly, I find myself more patient, more open to changes, and calmer in stressful situations. I am much more present, not only with friends and family, but in my sessions with clients as well. I am learning to shed what is no longer serving me and I have the self control to actually follow through on those things. I started doing yoga again consistently in January 2014, and since then I have:
-cut out Diet Cokes (this was a big deal for me)
-cut out caffeine
-and now my husband and I are talking about cutting out sugars that do not naturally occur in foods starting in August.
These are all external things, but they are a start. I’m noticing what internal things I need to work on, though. Some of those things include being positive, being more flexible with my life goals, minimizing the importance of materialistic things, and surrounding myself with people that only want to lift me up.
So, yes. Yoga includes the physical postures that you do in a yoga class. But it also includes the journey in to your self to become the best version of you that you can be. I do not measure the success of a yoga class by how much I sweat or if I’m going to have sore muscles the next day. Those things can be great, but how did I actually feel while doing the class? Did I feel at peace? Or did I feel annoyed that we were doing, basically, crunches? Asanas are to be used as a tool to find yourself. You are supposed to learn about your breath and your strengths and your limitations through asanas.
Today, I’m going to talk about an asana that I love a lot. It is definitely in my top three. I have always loved it, and it has always been a pose that I’ll just strike up in the middle of cooking or brushing my teeth.
I’m talking about tree pose.
Now, how does this tie in to what I was talking about how asanas are to be used as a tool? Because tree pose is a balancing pose. It may seem relatively easy, but it’s not. Balancing is all mental. If you lose your focus, or if you’re too busy worrying about what the girl next to you is doing, you fall. You can’t hold it. You have to focus on something, breathe, and hold it. It’s hard. But it’s also fun. 🙂
There are three variations to vrksasana, the sanskrit word for tree pose:
The least challenging version is to place your foot on your ankle. You can also place it on your calf or your thigh, but never on your knee. Placing your foot on your knee during a balancing pose like this can really damage your knee joints. Above, I have my hands in prayer, but to challenge yourself, grow your branches.
While lifting your arms ahead and out, focus on a point in front of you that is not moving. Listen to your breath. Tune out everything else around you. THAT is the challenge. Then, if you’ve really mastered the arms fully up, lift your head and look up. If having your arms up in a V is no longer hard for you, then try looking up and closing your eyes. I had a yoga instructor ask us to do that once and I immediately fell over. I like challenging myself and closing your eyes in this asana is truly mastering it. I think part of getting there is meditation, following your breath, and listening to your intuition. All of that is yoga.
*Please, never push yourself to reach the most challenging pose until you feel fully ready. Don’t ever let a yoga teacher push you past your personal limitations or boundaries. Yoga can be practiced by any person with any level of ability, but do so safely.*
What is your favorite asana to practice? Which pose would you like to see me break down and discuss in the future? Let me know in the comments below!
Next week, my husband and I will be in Montana! My sister in law just had a baby boy so we are going to visit. I will still be posting, but the themes will be a little different than usual. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do, so hopefully you will enjoy me sharing some of that passion with you through my blog.
Happy OM’ing, and namaste. ❤