It Is The Practice That Teaches Not The Teacher

Practice 2013

I have taught Ashtanga for years now and have trained in it extensively. I know the practice beyond the postures just because of the practice itself. That is what I’m teaching.

I know some “Ashtanga” teachers who do not practice it and therefore do not know the practice as a practice. They do not know the intricacies of it.

These teachers bow to the pressures of students’ to add postures which do not belong in the series, make it harder or easier by changing the posture rather than the intensity of the original posture itself, and let go of the rhythm of the class to appease those who just want to give up or make it easier so the ego can feel better. This is to the detriment of the practice, Ashtanga.

I have had great difficulty teaching Ashtanga after these teachers because students are not being educated in it.

It is the nature of the ego to make things easier – to stay in the status quo, to not push boundaries or get out of our comfort zone. But what is practice if it is not doing that – it is just exercise. It isn’t yoga if it isn’t challenging you to observe your need for: comfort, perfection, placating.

Yoga doesn’t placate – the teacher decides to do that and then it is just exercise. And don’t be fooled, just because you’re in a class that kicks your ass because it’s fast and you do every difficult posture in the yoga spectrum, doesn’t mean that it is challenging your ego – in fact that feeds your ego as well. The minute you say – oh look at that shiny thing – that’s when the ego is engaged.

I challenge you to get really bored in your practice – to strive for something else besides a good ego fix. Yoga is about personal, spiritual growth. It is to stretch you in a different way. The way that is most beneficial. Flexibility in every aspect does not necessarily manifest only in the body. Just because someone can bend over backwards, doesn’t mean that they have cracked the code of yoga. If it comes easily to you, I challenge you to find a place where you have to work for it.

Peace!
Christine xo

The Difference between Sukhasana, Siddhasana, Padmasana

Traditional meditation cross legged sitting postures. The most done and most traditional used all over the world is: Sukhasana. The next is Siddhasana. And only rarely, Padmasana.


sukhasana
siddhasana3 SAMSUNG

 

Sukansana – sitting “easy cross legged” pose.

This is “easy” because it is simply sitting cross legged.

Siddhasana – sitting with toes tucked into thighs or set the feet side by side keeping the knees wide.

Siddhasana is a little more difficult than Sukasana and is a cross legged pose where you tuck your feet into your thighs (between thighs and calves specifically), or lay your feet side by side (on the floor in front of you) keeping the knees wide: a wide kneed pose. Which means that it can only be done when the hips are more open, and it can help open the hips even more than simply sitting cross legged.

Padmasana – sitting with feet on top of thighs tucked close to hips

Padmasana or lotus pose is the most difficult of the seated “meditation” poses. It is done by tucking the feet up on top of the thighs and close to the hips: a closed knee pose. Which means that the knees are closer together and can be done when the hips are much more open than the other two. It is not easy to get into and takes a great deal of practice to make sure the knees are protected.

These are important distinctions. All three are available to use – but please practice especially the last two, with a GOOD teacher – one who knows the difference between the three poses.

Once you practice all three poses, the differences and the benefits of each will become clear.

Please keep yoga asana names and terms correct.

Peace!

The Process of an Ashtanga Practice…

The Process of an Ashtanga Practice...

 

I go through what’s on the graph in a split second every other day. 🙂 And it continues to be like that no matter how I advance in my practice. Ashtanga is a complex and very layered, deep practice. There’s always room for improvement, and there is always signs of improvement. It keeps me humble and it fills me with such joy too.

I love Ashtanga … no matter what.

*Bhoga or Yoga…

Bhoga or Yoga…

Acrobats are NOT yogis/yoginis. Circus freaks are NOT either. Come to think of it neither are ballet dancers or athletes. Yogis/Yoginis are well… yogis/yoginis. It is beyond the physical. Beyond the point of “look at what I can do”. There’s a subtlety and a humility that is expressed through the body when doing asana. Can you see it…within yourself?

FYI:

Someone commented:

Hmmmm…

I know what you mean, I think. But many dancers and athletes and acrobats I know are also yogis/yoginis… the various practices and arts and sciences do interleaf with each other, all the intersecting influences and balances and movements and stillness add the kind of texture to life that I adore…

My response:

You may think so – but the quality of the relationship between mind and body is intrinsically different because of how you approach the physical practice. If you are in a discipline such as gymnastics or dance which focuses on ‘performance’, that becomes a part of the ‘yoga’ you do which is NOT the how or the why of Yoga…

Gymnastics and dance, etc. are just physical. Just because you can contort your body seemingly perfectly into the postures does not mean you are doing YOGA. Yoga is so much more and if you’ve done it long enough say 20 years (yes I think it takes that long and even longer), you will know that performing the postures and enacting asana within your practice are NOT the same thing.

*Bhoga is doing yoga asana for the sake of the self. For entertainment, performance or narcissistic purposes. Yoga asana should only be done for the purpose of worshipping god (universal energy).  – Paraphrased from the writings of Mr. Iyengar founder of Iyengar Yoga.

Asana Practice

Preparing for Leg Behind the Head

Variation for leg behind the head pose. Working into it and stopping along the way.

I love to do this variation of the leg behind the head posture. Took me a long time to get here. When I’m here I feel a certain kind of freedom in my body and mind that only comes from the kind of practice that will get you here. For some people this is a posture that comes simply and naturally. For me it took about 10 years! Think about it…