Communication, Enquiry, Response
Yoga is a constant enquiry. We are tuning into body, paying attention to how our body and breath feel as we move, or are static. As a teacher I am in that enquiry with you, to explore what is working and what isn't and how adapting what we are doing might better serve us.
When we pause in an asana to investigate, we were paying attention, not just writing off an unwelcome sensation, but enquiring as to whether that sensation meant we were building strength or flexibility or whether it was unhelpful. To explore that we look at whether there's an opportunity to reposition, release or engage.
When we enquire into our body and we respond to sensations we are empowering ourselves to notice the wellbeing of the body, to attend to our physical home. But we are also building the ability to notice when our stress response is in the driving seat too often, or when we are having an unhelpful physiological reaction instead of a helpful response, we can notice that, pause and choose differently and that is truly a super power for health and relationships.
Predictability & Control
Ashtanga Yoga is also about predictability and control - two key aspects that can bring our body and mind into balance. We practice the same sequence each time we come to the mat for predictability & control, but it has some additional benefits too:
Calm - Repetition enables us to learn the sequence so well that it becomes second nature, eventually it becomes a soothing, calm and joyful moving meditation. The mind can become still, the breathing become steady and the nervous system can come into balance bringing our whole physiology into balance.
Control - No matter what has happened that day or week, we know we can get onto the mat and practice a sequence we know well and which nourishes body and soul, we know we can do something to support our mental, spiritual and physical health.
Balance - The sequence is balanced so that we use all parts of the body across all planes of movement. If we were just to practice the asana we liked (likely those we find easy?) we will strengthen that which is already strong - bringing ourselves further out of balance. The set sequence ensures we lengthen that which is strong and short, and we strengthen that which is long and flexible - so even when we aren't standing on one leg we are balancing 🙂
Checking-In - Ashtanga yoga is a brilliant personal health check for body and mind. Practicing the same balanced sequence of asana each time we come to the mat we can tell if something has changed and then we can think about why and whether we want to do something about that. Is it a positive change? Or if it's unhelpful are we tired, hyper, holding onto an emotion or thought, hungry, do we need to get something checked-out, do we need to talk about something, get more sleep?