Essential Awareness in Yoga
Essential Awareness in Yoga
I come to you now with renewed energy having completed certification in Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga (SSLY) with The Chopra Center last month. Wow. What a journey! I’m so thankful that events conspired to get me to this juncture in my life. I notice such a difference in the way I feel when I practice yoga.
What is Yoga? In the West, we tend to associate yoga mostly with exercises, but it’s actually much more than that. The word yoga is a Sanskrit word that comes from the term yuj, meaning union. Yoga is union of body, mind and soul. So we don’t want to just do yoga, we want to live yoga, to live in union, which is experienced as greater harmony, success, wellbeing and flow in life.
Yoga returns us to our true way of being; relaxed, calm, centered and balanced! You don’t have to be flexible, strong or in shape to begin yoga. With yoga we just start where we are. And in actuality yoga begins with awareness in this very moment. So right now become aware of how you are sitting. Does your body want to stretch or adjust in in some way? Does your breath want to deepen? There, you’ve just practiced yoga – union of your body, mind, Spirit.
What are some basic tips/principles to follow in yoga?
- Listen to your body. Listen for signals of comfort or discomfort. If something isn’t comfortable then lighten up in the pose or come out of the pose completely. Choose what feels best for your body at every moment.
- Don’t overexert yourself. Find your sweet edge. Find that place where you are utilizing effort but without strain or pain. Exert yourself in poses without excess effort.
- Engage the muscles that are directly involved in the pose and relax the rest of your body. To do so scan over your body in each pose and notice if any muscles are engaged that don’t need to be.
- Relax your face and your jaw throughout the practice and have a pleasant look on your face. If you are grimacing in a pose it’s a sign that you are overexerting.
- Focus on alignment and not depth of pose. It is much more important to be in a pose correctly then to go into it deeply.
- Practice breath awareness. If you can’t breathe in a pose it’s too much. Keep a steady, easy, deep, belly breath throughout your practice.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Yoga is not a competitive sport. If you need to rest in class you always have the option to rest in child’s pose or in savasana. It’s your body.
- Surrender. Once you are in a pose continue to breathe deeply and have the intention to relax and surrender to the pose.
- Take time to just be, taking pauses in your day and ending asana practice with savasana.
Start where you are. Move, breathe, and take time to be. This is yoga. And maybe you’ll be drawn to check out a SSLY class or another class that suits you. It’s delightful to be a regularly practicing yoga again and if it is something you haven’t explored fully you might find that you really enjoy it.
What is Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga? There are many styles of yoga and Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga (SSLY) is a style that was developed by Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon and Claire Diab that stems out of the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success book (one of Deepak Chopra’s best selling books). This form of yoga integrates spirituality into the practice of yoga both on and off the mat by incorporating the seven spiritual laws of success, one for each day of the week. These laws are laws of nature that apply not only to yoga but apply to the larger scope of our lives. (To learn more about Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga click here).
Wishing you peace on your journey.
Lisa Guyman, August 2007
“Yoga is a way to tame your wild mind and find peace in this uncertain world. This may sound impossible or irrational to you, from where you are right now. But I am certain that once you step onto this magical ride of self-exploration called “Yoga”, you will never want to get off.” – Lynne Baum, RYT