Hello, thank you for taking the time to read my first ever yoga blog! Here's a short introduction to a theme I am working with in my yoga classes this term: the nature of stability in yoga. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments box.
Stability and Yoga
Yoga is a versatile practice. We can vary and apply the teachings of yoga in lots of different ways; we can work energetically, strongly, meditatively or therapeutically depending on what we need from a practice at any given time. However, whilst there are many possibilities to explore through yoga practice, it's important not to lose sight of some of the fundamental components of yoga practice: stability, support and structure. These qualities only really manifest through regular practise and when we stay with the same practice for a length of time we gradually develop our experience and understanding every time we step on the mat.
Building on strong foundations
Yoga is a discipline in which we work progressively, to deepen and refine our experiences through repetition. Like anything which has long-lasting benefits the fruits of our practice are normally revealed over time. When we practise regularly yoga acts as a mirror; our yoga practice becomes a reference point by which we can assess how we are in ourselves from day to day, or week to week. This progressive approach is called Vinyasa Krama – which in sanskrit means the special placing of steps – the idea that if we approach yoga methodically and introduce new ideas logically in small steps, we can maintain steady progress, building on strong foundations and maintaining clarity throughout the process.
Cultivating stability - Coming back to the breath.
Through yoga we aim to cultivate physical stability in order to stay healthy and strong, to feel comfortable in our body and prevent injury or illness. However at the same time we also aim to find peace of mind; an internal sense of stability and support. So when we practise yoga we are working with an integrated approach to the body and the mind. Whilst we work with postures, we aim to keep the mind steady and focussed so that we are totally present; stable in body and in the moment.
The tool which facilitates these aims and transforms the physical practice of yoga from being merely physical exercise into an experience which also stills the mind, is the special use of the breath. Linking breathing and movement supports us to develop physical stability but also holds our attention, involvement and awareness.
We can think of the breath in three ways:
The breathing technique, which in my view transforms the practice of yoga postures, is called Ujjayi. Through the use of this technique we learn to lengthen and refine our pattern of breathing so that we can really explore the nature of stability in yoga, by coming back to the breath. Everything else flows steadily from this point.