Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Allow The Asana To Come To You
WHEN YOU BEGIN YOGA, the process may appear to be one of bringing yourself to a pose, to something that is seems standardized into a goal. You might try to shape yourself to a pose, and you always find room for improvement. And then you flow to another pose and then another.
But when you begin to hold poses, the process may begin to change. Spindles in muscles and connective tissue begin to release, AND, more important, a switch has been flipped in the parasympathetic nervous system that triggers profound changes in the various internal systems of the body physiology that are not present when moving faster. And this physiology that you can only generally sense as relaxation can open an unexpected gateway.
Should you begin to routinely hold poses, rather than rarely, you might experience a sense of the possibility of the pose coming to you rather than bringing yourself to it. This shift is a revolutionary one in yoga. And yet, it is also likely an eternal one, not caught up in the popular moment or a specific agenda.
Allowing the pose to come to you is one critical component of a revolutionary yoga. The nature of poses (asanas) is revisioned. Then yoga is not about a technique or a “pose,” or a correct sequence of poses, and not even about being “aligned” or “doing it right.” Then, there are no real systems or styles of yoga.
Allowing the pose to come to you is immediately different from flowing from one pose to the other. In flow, you can attune to the points of tension and release, but you move toward modeling a pose. In flow, even slow, there is little time to really listen. The image is gross [in a benevolent sense], not detailed.
So how to begin to allow the pose to come to you?
Allowing the pose to come to you takes time, takes holding, quieting, attuning.
Then, having taken this small revolutionary turn by holding and attuning, think (1) “free the body not controlling it,” and (2) simply, “allow the pose to come to me.”
Allowing the pose to come to you likely begins where the hands touch and/or the knees touch or the back-body grounds. You don’t simply go to the pose. Your knees, your hands, your back: What are they asking, or have you allowed them to become very secondary or forgotten in a rush to “get to the pose.”
Then the pose grows like a planted seed, small at first, pressing then yielding. Your form may look quite different from someone else. And this difference is optimal; it is authentic, in the sense that it is fitted to you. And across returns to practice, the pose changes, flowers differently, and at various points, quite unexpectedly leads somewhere else.
As a plant is optimized when it is nurtured, so must a pose be nurtured to be optimized.