Tipsy Tuesday - Just Breathe
I'm closing out my month of tips with the ultimate tip, because this one covers every pose. And since I've had so much fun writing these, I'm going to keep it going, just might space them out a little more.
The Yoga Sutras tell us “sthira sukham asanam” – the pose must be steady and comfortable. I was inspired to write this because I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and I saw a photo of a woman doing a beautiful variation of raja kapotasana aka mermaid pose and in the caption she stated that she wasn’t perfect, but she had been practicing and wanted to share.
I’m assuming she was saying this because her hips weren’t on the ground and she couldn’t quite clasp her hands behind her head. But, her hips were square and she was engaging her quads so she didn’t leaning onto her front hip; and her spine was long and her chest lifted so she wasn't rounded and slumped forward. It was by the book perfect.
I hear statements like this all the time…
“I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible"
“But your hip is on the ground and mine isn’t even close”
“blah blah blah” because after awhile that's all I start to hear
Well newsflash.. every BODY is different. And on top of that your body is always different. Some days I can slip right into hanumanasana (splits) with ease and some days (most days) I struggle in this pose and I am nowhere near the ground. During the 'most days' when I try hanumanasana (and several other poses when my body isn't feeling it) my muscles are tight and shake, and sometimes I find that I hold my breath in my struggles. But, this is why it is called a yoga practice, because we are always growing and evolving in our practice.
So here's the tip of all tips... the 'how-to' to making every pose steady and comfortable... just breathe. If you can’t breathe you are doing it wrong, even if it “looks right”. Back bends are the best example for this. I see (and I was guilty of this too) so many yogis try to push their limits, for whatever reason (ego, pride, curiosity…) and they will extend back until they literally can’t breathe and then when they come out of the pose, they are lightheaded and can’t continue with the flow. Why would anyone want to cut off their air supply? Seems a bit ludicrous to me....
Now don't take this tip as an excuse to stay within your comfort zone in every pose without trying to push your limits a little bit. But, remember progress happens little by little. You aren't going to just wake up one day and be able to put your foot behind your head if you don't practice this consistently, or you are just a natural born contortionist.
Take time in your practice, especially during your home practice, to connect your movement with your breath and to breathe into each pose. Find your level of comfort and focus on the micro adjustments. Mentally map out your body and learn to recognize how each pose feels.
And when all else fails...just breathe.