Sept. 25, 2013

Finding the “Optimal” Place in the Pose (part 1)

Does everybody who’s been to my classes this year remember the “Theme of the Year, or however long it takes”? In case you forgot or haven’t been in a class when I explicitly stated it, it is “Finding the ‘Optimal’ Place in the Pose.” At the previous Saturday intensive in August (next one is Oct. 19), I did an overview of this theme. Some people thought that that was very helpful and suggested it as a blog entry so here it is in condensed form. (Part I)

Stating the theme in the way I do assumes that there is such thing as an “optimal” place. Though it will, of course, be subjective and dependent on one’s unique body/mind at a specific moment (now!) and will constantly be changing, I will suggest that there is such thing. From a certain perspective, where you are in the pose or life at any given point is “optimal” since THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING in the moment. However all of us have enough experience to know that we don’t FEEL like we are in an “optimal” place in every moment and from that perspective, we’re not.

Early in the year I started to give conditions that must be met for it to be considered “optimal.” First of all, can you breathe? Not can you MAKE yourself breathe or FORCE your body to breathe, but can the breath be relatively smooth, relatively deep, and steady and comfortable without an undue amount of effort, generally in and out through the nose? If not, then as a yoga practitioner it’s easy to realize that that’s not the optimal place.

Related to that, while you are in the pose (life?), can SOMETHING relax? If not, again, I would say that’s not optimal either since we have enough opportunity in life to be tense and unable to relax.

In the big “Y” Yoga, on one level, it’s all about… AWARENESS, so whatever is happening or where there is intensity, can you focus on it? Does the pose help or hinder your focus? If you can’t focus on it, and Yoga is all about awareness, then it can’t be the optimal place. For it to be considered “optimal”, there will be an attractive quality to the sensations we have created in the body, so the mind will more naturally and easily stay present. We need all the help we can get to be aware, and we don’t need to make it harder on ourself than it already is.

So summarizing, breathing, relaxing a bit and being aware, are 3 of the foundations or cornerstones toward finding and playing the optimal place in the pose.

(to be continued)