Yoga practice is a system. I remember thats the first thing they said when i arrived for the first time to practice with the Iyengar family in India back in ’07 after i received my 2nd level Iyengar certification. A system to do what? Well that’s subjective. Some practice to lose weight or look feel better, some to find meaning and purpose or improve their experience on this planet. Some to get certificates and have a career. What attracts you to the matt is your own business, but what will keep you there year after year is the system. BKS Iyengar has written some marvelous books to transform your practice to a deeper experience which will help you understand the human condition and go beyond the mundane day to day eat sleep work entertainment lifestyle. I remember a student in melbourne who had been coming to my classes weekly for over 2 years sent me an email saying that they found their feet!! they were on a tram on the way to work and suddenly they really felt the weight of their body on their heals and from that came the reaction of the chest opening. They were so excited, and its one of my favourite stories to share because we are so much in our heads and behind our eyes that we really miss being in the moment and an authentic experience of our world. That’s why travelling and reading and sports and pharmaceutical/recreational drugs (come on, it seems half of this planet is stoned or numbed) are so popular because it brings you into the moment. Unfortunately, none of these things can change your heart or your mind, for the better, but they can give you a glimpse of what is possible. A peek into an existence where things are always new fresh as you become calmer and more balanced.
So, feet. Our base, earth, foundation grounding. THis is where the system begins. Or one way to work with your yoga practice. See this site for an intricate view into FEET of mountain pose, Tadasana http://www.bradpriddy.com/yoga/tada.htm To really spread or broaden lengthen the soul of the foot, the toes forwards and heals back will immediately activate the legs and give the ankles knees hips integrity so that the hip can sit well and allow the spine to extend up. Thats what my friend felt on the tram, If i had a dollar for every time i was told in class to lift lock suck-up tighten my knees Id have, quite abit of cash i reckon. Some people should not lock their knees due to discomfort hyperextension etc. And i feel that locking lifting the knees is for beginners to understand the activity and dynamic feeling the legs need to have in Tadasana and as a linking instruction through all the standing poses. There’s the system.
Asana or poses are a small part of the practice though. As our base keeps our body grounded and gives us correct action physically, so the breath keeps the mind in the body and gives us a correct mentality. Day after day after month year we practice and meet the challenges with our correct intention and transformation comes. Patience. Self compassion. Strength in adversity. This is why you need a teacher to watch and inspire you and make sure that you are working correctly. But you cannot have your teachers experience, you will have your own. It is like a quest. Many philosophers and the wise say that a life where you do not look to understand this existence, explore and find meaning or purpose, but merely go with what’s expected of you by society and culture, is a life not lived. The yoga matt is lie a well, spring, a neutral space, a perfect place to explore the inner world, and thus better understand the outer…
And finally Savasana, the corpse pose at the end teaches us how to surrender, let go, release, as we scan the body and allow it to rest part by part, deeply. Then a moment will come when you feel the whole body as one piece on the floor and the mind sharpened by the practice watches observes witnesses the body and then you will have a glimpse of absolute complete relaxation.
My last teacher taught that you dont even have to think when you get the hang of it. you unroll your matt, and of you go. Remembering instructions or clever adjustments becomes a thing of the past as you feel your way through the practice.