with Andrea Marcum, Lululemon brand ambassador and writer
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
What if I were to tell you that something as simple as downward dog could be your roadmap to lasting transformation?
We often start doing yoga because we’re looking for a form of exercise. And the physical incentive is a great place to start. B.K.S. Iyengar himself said, “Penetration of the mind is our goal, but in the beginning there is no substitute for sweat.” Look, I understand that working our muscles feels immediate and palpable. Almost instantly we feel like we are inviting progress in some way. I also know that if we’re going to truly liberate ourselves, focusing only on our bodies will not be enough.
by Sara Dwyer Lane, Yoga Teacher at Bodytree Studio
During your yoga asana practice you are responsible for making continuous decisions while you move. How is your breath in a posture or during transitions? Have you reached your edge? Should you push further? Should you back off? Is your movement serving your body and mind in the way you need it to today? Do you need to sweat or is your body telling you that you need something more restorative? These are important questions you should be asking yourself, instead of trying to attain that picture perfect pose. It’s more important to listen to your body than listening to anything else!
As I explore my own ever-changing practice, most recently I spend a lot of time thinking about the spine. I think a lot about the way I use and move my spine. And I spend a lot of time thinking about how I teach others to be aware of how they are moving and using theirs. Why pay special attention to your spine? You have heard people say ‘you are only as healthy as your spine,’ right? If you think about it, the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your backbone is absolutely essential to ALL other movements. These vertebrae that are so elegantly stacked and curved atop one another, carry your nervous system from your brain to each and every part of the body. It sends all the information our brain conveys to our various body parts and then returns the feedback to the brain. Besides students saying they aren’t flexible enough, the thing I hear most often is that their backs hurt/ache in various ways. Much of this is under-developed core strength, but more so it’s about being thoughtful about how we treat our back. I want to share a few common alignment myths to keep in mind as you navigate your own body, while being mindful of your spine, in your practice. These are some simple places to start.
With Justine Rowan, Visiting Yoga Instructor at Bodytree Studio
Remember: You can’t be bad at yoga! It is not about being flexible or super fit. It is about exploring and working with your own body’s current needs, challenges and potential and developing mind-body awareness through the medium of movement and breath focus.
Whether you are new to yoga or an experienced student one thing to bear in mind is the importance of respecting your limits. Learn how to protect yourself in any class to help prevent injury and maximise the power of your practice.