Build all your poses from the ground up.
This is what I tell my students. Always start with the foundation.
It’s in the foundations of the poses that we find strength, balance, stability and freedom. Only with a strong foundation, firmly rooted into the earth will we ever learn to fly.
There should be joy in each asana and a sense of pleasure in each part of the pose. An asana practice is a journey we take, traveling through each point of the pose giving us the opportunity to Move beyond just the process of “gettinginto” the pose.
Each pose is an onion with many layers and as you peel away each layer you reveal new depths to the pose but you also reveal your own hidden qualities of being. Accept and embrace each layer of the pose, take time for the foundation at each layer to express it’s self to you, allow it to resonate within you on a personal level, then deepening your practice, begin to peel away more layers.
So what is the difference between peeling the layers and learning the process, or “gettinginto” the pose? Let’s look at Downward facing Dog. The “process” for Down Dog begins with moving from plank, cobra or on hand & knees, into the action of lifting through the hips, and pressing the chest towards the toes, creating length in the spine. Firming the thighs & keep the knees soft, let the heels melt towards the floor. Simply “doing” the mechanics of the posture. That’s the basic pose we all learn when begin to practice.
Once you get the process, the foundation of the pose, you then begin to peel away the layers. We learn more about lengthening the spine, drawing the shoulders away from the ears. Pressing into the earth through the hands activating Hasta Bandha, creating the lifting action of the torso; turning the sit bones toward the ceiling; then learning to find the Bandhas in Down Dog, then feeling strong enough we take the pose to a 3 legged Down Dog, then opening the hip of the lifted leg and dropping the heel back behind you, then allowing the energy to carry you into Flip dog….Then Then Then…. There is always more we can do, farther we can go, “then soften…” “then lift..” “then move…” there really isn’t an end to the process we just begin to think of it differently. At each point in the pose that speaks to you instead of ‘doing’ just “be” in the pose. Once there we change from a process to a deepening. Its about letting yoga challenge us, teaching us about our limits and then changing them, on & off the mat. The layers in a pose are like the layers in our life we peel back the layers in life revealing freshness & vitality and a new way to Just Be.