The other day I found myself reading Bikram’s book, Bikram Yoga. I came across a passage that struck a chord within me. When practicing the postures Bikram says “it’s very important to know how to get out of the postures too.” Reading those words made me realize I need to have a conscious awareness of how I exit my postures.
In yoga, as in life, I have often felt I need to prove a point, prove my worth. I need to demonstrate my strength and worthiness, so I’ll go as deeply into a pose as possible. That’s okay as long as I consciously maintain awareness of my breath. If I hold my breath as I’m prone to doing, then it may be that I’ve too far into a pose. If I’m not breathing then I’m not really alive, I’m not really in the pose. At that point maybe I need to come out of the pose just a bit, if my ego will allow me.
If I maintain awareness of breath going into the pose and staying in the pose then I have a greater chance of consciously controlling my exit from the pose. This takes effort. Doesn’t everything worth doing?
I recall many times in class, and in life, going into a pose, into a situation, with such gusto that I didn’t have the energy to exit with grace. Reading Bikram’s words makes me realize that I can create better balance in my practice and in my life. In this moment my life shifts out of balance when my thoughts run amuck.
When it comes to the actual poses, lately I’ve made more of an effort to enter and exit with grace, balance and stillness. I’ll show you what I mean. Here’s a YouTube clip showing me entering and exiting Standing Separate Leg Head to Knee Pose without conscious awareness. Done this way, I’m not receiving the full benefit of the pose, a pose designed partially to trim the abdomen. As that’s an area I’m working on, it makes sense to make a more determined effort with this posture:
After watching the link above, compare it to the YouTube clip below where I demonstrate a careful and conscious entrance and exit to the pose:
See the difference?
Awareness brings life. Life brings hope. Hope brings balance.
The next time you’re in a yoga class observe, without judgment, how you enter and exit poses. The next time you’re in any life situation where you feel an extreme emotion: stop, breathe, observe. Find breath. Find balance. And if the balance isn’t there, then find a way to maintain your sanity until you can exit gracefully and return to a normal breathing pattern. When you’re calm, your heart will never lead you astray.
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