After the Yoga Nidra workshop on Saturday, we had an interesting discussion regarding the need to slow down. How slowing our yoga practice can help us find balance in our fast paced world. We are constantly rushing in our lives, juggling responsibilities, suffering digital overload, feel more stressed about being stressed and our adrenals may be in overload.
By taking a traditional approach to our asana practice and allowing ourselves to slow down, we can access much deeper awareness and connection. We can be aware and enjoy our subtle progress, prevent injury, learn to love ourselves by not adding the pressure to achieve and observe how slowing down filters into our everyday life.
My friends at Yogalaya posted this interesting piece regarding slowing down which gives us much food for thought.
“It is interesting to note that many Hatha Yoga scriptures ask us to relax, slow down and take it easy. This, I think, is one of the most important message of Hatha Yoga to the modern yogis. Imagine a situation of a yoga enthusiast /student who comes to the class at 7 in the evening after working 11 hours in the office. In the morning this person jumps out of bed, rushes into shower, runs to catch the train to office and takes the bull of challenges by its horns throughout the day. Such has become the pace of us urban people. Such a person who comes to the class in the evening brings the “let’s do it” alpha energy into the class. The hyper active, achievement oriented office mind-set will unconsciously continue in the yoga class too and could be a cause of injury. It is in such situations that the person needs a calming asana practice focused on breathing, awareness and conscious movement and not just stretching the muscles for achievements sake. It is the responsibility of yoga teachers to guide the student through this wider, pacifying orientation and not just create another opportunity for the enthusiast to live through the adrenals.
Traditional Hatha Yoga schools have used asana practices primarily as an awareness deepening and energy realigning technique and not as flexibility or stretch training. Deepening of self-awareness is facilitated by general slowing down and when asanas are used, through asana practice focused on sensations, breath, prana flow and emotional sensitivity. In this respect the scriptures ask the sadhaka to relax and take it easy as well. Gorakh Vachana Sangraha says “asanasya rajo hanti”, asana is about removing the rajas. As we know rajas is the hyperactive, unsatisfied and the dynamic aspect of body-mind complex. Gorakhnath in Gorakh bani says “thabaki na chaliba” means do not walk in haste. Sant Kabir, says “asana se mat dol”, means do not move from your asana, be still. Even the highly revered Hatha Yoga scripture like Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati defines asana as “asanamiti svasvarupe samasannata” means, asana is to remain in one’s own true state. Thus, we see that asana is understood more as a mental attitude than a physical practice. Nowhere in traditional Hatha Yoga the active, goal oriented aspect of asana practice is pressed upon. Asanas were looked upon as method to generate stillness. Modern yoga enthusiasts need to start entering the zone of stillness by slowing down their asana practice and making it “conscious” based and not competition based. The world needs to learn how to slow down and take it easy. It is essential that today’s yoga asana culture understands this and adopts this orientation, otherwise the beauty of asana practice will be unfortunately relegated to a level of competition and exhibitionism”. The quote is from Prasad Rangnekar.
I had an interesting lesson in slowing down this morning on my way to class. Local children were leaving home to go to school and a little boy said to his sister. “Look Evie, Look” I wondered what was so exciting and important. “A puddle…. And it’s a huge puddle”. The wonders of slowing down, taking notice and enjoying life!
Hopefully see you on your mat soon. Click here for classes, workshops and retreats.
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Photo credit: The DoubleDubs