What are you really trying to do when you practice? It’s a good thing to think about, and, at different stages of our lives we might have different ideas about this. Ultimately, however, I believe it’s a good idea to think of a simple aim such as to move and be free!
The primary aim of my practice is to move. To move my body. To move energy and circulation through my body. You can do this without practicing yoga but a careful yoga practice does help you learn to move circulation and energy in specific ways (and, indeed, a mindless practice can be harmful and perhaps even make you fat and weak, as Simon mentions in an interesting post of the same name).
This is why when you come to my class you won’t see me getting us to hold poses for ages. I won’t ever encourage you to stay there, hold, or feel the burn. To me this is a sign that energy is stuck. That you are stuck. And it doesn’t feel good.
This is why when you come to my class you won’t see me moving so deep into a pose that there is no ‘wiggle room’. When I am in a pose, even one that looks difficult and complicated, you will see me still trying to wriggle around. If I can’t wriggle around and move then I am stuck. Energy will probably be stuck too.
Stretching too much and tensing too much will block the flow of energy through your body. The best thing you can do for yourself is to back off slightly and allow yourself space to move.
As you watch and practice this short sequence, remind yourself that the aim is to move. Even when it looks as though I am holding a pose for a few seconds, remind yourself that you should still feel as though you have the potential to move. Most importantly, enjoy moving! That is what your body is designed to do. If you cannot follow me exactly don’t worry! Who cares? Make something up. Something that feels good. Move slowly, with awareness, without strain. Relax and breathe, but breathe a bit less if you can. Small sips of breath, as though at rest.
This short practice lasts less than 8 minutes. But you should feel warm by the end (a sign circulation has moved), relaxed, calm, and focussed. You should feel like you have done something but not exhausted yourself.
These are things I have had the privilege of learning from my teachers, Paddy McGrath, and Simon and Bianca at Yoga Synergy, and I encourage you to get to them when you can. If you are in Canberra or Sri Lanka though, I will do my best to convey my understandings of their teachings in their absence.
Happy and safe practicing!