Photo by the great jimnewberry.com
Asana are what we call the yoga postures. In the West, most of us are introduced to the wonderful universe of yoga through asana and exercising the body is vital to a healthy, balanced life. Especially as a yoga teacher, one would think.
I'll be honest. I broke up with asana last November. 10 months ago. Asana and I dated very seriously since 2002, but last year, I felt us growing apart. So, I took a break from such intense times with asana. I still exercise - I started swimming again and ride my bicycle more than ever. It's just that I fell out of the habit and the desire to practice asana every day.
I went down to practicing poses once or twice a week. Sometimes just once a week and very gently, at that. What's more important to me is the meditation aspect of yoga, anyway. But the postures sure do condition the body to sit and meditate for longer.
I'm glad to announce that asana and I are rebuilding our relationship. I'm more open minded towards asana and we're getting together more often in every form. Restorative, flow, Iyengar...I'm ready. My body is ready. It's been a long 10 months, but I'm committing to practicing asana every day for one month. Not just demonstrating the poses in class, but to my own physical practice.
And, more importantly, my meditation practice must also stay strong. It's gonna be an even better Autumn! (By the way, every time yogis discuss practice, we mention "abyanga" from the yoga sutras, which means "practice". So there, I mentioned it.)
I visited Toronto for July 4th weekend and wanted to take a picture of where I practiced yoga every day. I forgot the snap the shot, but picture this: My friend, Trey, lives in a 400 square foot apartment with the loveliest little back porch. Cozy, and just big enough to fit my travel yoga mat, his two chairs and a tiny table. I swept the cement ground, moved his furniture, laid out my mat and was able to practice this way. Some practices were shorter than others, but it was so important to keep consistent with my practice, that I either woke up early or slipped out to the porch during the afternoon to get a practice in.
The practical part of this was that I traveled by train and bus from Chicago to Toronto, and keeping limber really helped with cramped "sleeping" arrangements.
The energetic part was to keep my head even keeled while I was in a new environment. Geesh, can I be a bear to travel with, sometimes. I control, I get hot headed, I want to do the things that I want to do, darnit. Yoga yoga yoga sure does take the edge off of traveling for me and my travel mates. Believe me, we all benefit when I'm doing yoga regularly!
The fun part of my practice was trying to figure out which direction North was. I was turned around a bit and don't think I did too much "damage" not facing North while I meditated (South is not a good direction to face while practicing, sources say). At any rate, I justified packing my yoga mat with me in order to keep regular.
By the way, there's a popular yoga studio in Toronto called, "Down Dog" and even though many people told me to practice there, I didn't connect to any teacher's bios that I read. My practice is to the point that it's better if I practice alone over practicing for 60 minutes or more in a class that will whack out my energy. So not worth it! I'm sure I would have found a teacher/class that I'd gel with but upon initial research, there was too much vinyasa/power yoga action for me. All the more reason to have the discipline to practice alone on a teeny back porch in downtown Toronto.
(Lovely town, by the way. Highly recommended!)
Kundalini ParaYoga training at Prana Del Mar in Mexico
Every yoga person eventually talks about practice. "We need to practice every day." "It doesn't matter how much you practice as long as you practice consistently." "The Yoga Sutras say to practice regularly, it's called abhyasa."
Well, they're right. We do need to practice yoga every day and I frustrate myself about this. I put pressure on myself to practice enough every day and this means all kinds of yoga. Not just the poses, but pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, jnana (mental, academic), etc.
I continually struggle with balancing between feeling like I'm practicing "enough" with practicing consistently. As a yoga teacher, especially in the ParaYoga lineage, meditation is an anchor of what I need to practice. And when I don't meditate as long as I want to, I feel crunky and not smooth. So I have to sit longer. It's like there's no choice if I want to feel good inside and out...it's like going all day without brushing my teeth.
Absorbing a daily yoga practice is hard at first, but when I realize that connecting to god, to the best part of myself, to that which is beyond this material world, is the most important thing I can do, ot's more important than blogging, gardening, and talking to my loved ones on the phone. The greatest loved one is spirit and I need to talk to her every single day. We all do! Remember who you are! Talk to god, talk to the real you. Every day.
Mia Park is a ParaYoga teacher in Chicago, IL, specializing in teaching Basic Yoga for Advanced Misfits, as well as teaching people how to cut through the junk to shine on.