Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Lessons from yoga-Balancing effort with ease

In the modern world, it is not always easy to have a good work/life balance.  We work crazy hours and often our work is available 24/7 through our smart phones, e-mails etc.  It is so important to schedule in rest and relaxation time.  This can be anything from a day out with your family, a long soak in the bath, a night out with friends or simply putting your feet up with a magazine.  In nature, there are periods of growth balanced by periods of rest and renewal and even in Tudor times there would be periods of hard work in the growing season followed by more restful periods (and longer sleeps) in the winter but we have lost touch with these natural rhythms. 

In Patanjali's Yoga Sutras we are advised 'sthira, sukham, asanam' (2.46) which means that in our asana work we should find ease in our efforts.  When we hold a posture therefore we should be efforting but not so much as to create tension in the muscles.  This means developing an awareness of our 'edge' (which may vary) that place where you can feel the stretch but are not straining.  At the same time we should not be so much 'at ease' in our minds that we are planning tonight's dinner or whatever else we need to do but should be alert to the sensations of the pose.  

One way of creating 'ease' in the body while efforting is through focusing on the breath, which calms the mind and the nervous system. This 'tool' is really useful when we do poses that challenge us.  If we can stay calm and focused on the mat when we are faced with challenges then eventually we will be calm and focused when we meet challenges off the mat: simply able to be in that moment without adding more tension to it.

In our yoga video on YouTube this week, 'Lessons from yoga-Balancing effort with ease'-https://youtu.be/HplCA0-XBe8 we will focus on balancing ease with effort while practicing core strength poses and arm strengthening poses. Our 'peak' pose is Side Plank which is a challenging pose for some people.  However I will show you some ways in which you may find ease in the pose.  Our practice ends with a Yoga Nidra.  In Yoga Nidra you are completely relaxed but alert, that is balancing ease with effort. 

Janet x 

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