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Its more than just Yoga

In 1997 a random British pop band, Chumbawamba, released a song called Tubthumping. Despite its name and thumping beat, the song’s lyrics were actually profound:

“I get knocked down, but I get up again You are never gonna keep me down”

This song has rung true for me over the last couple of months as I continue my journey to build up my yoga business, define my niche and find my unique voice in the world of Yoga.

In the last month I have taught three classes that have helped me keep perspective and be realistic about my situation. The first class focused on resistance poses – poses where stability and balance is created in the face of resistance and opposition. The second class used asymmetrical poses as a tool for understanding the natural imbalances that occur in our bodies, and the third class focused on being grounded – physically and emotionally.

All these three topics are deeply connected and have important implications for the way you experience, and deal with, the ups and downs of life – whether it’s in your personal or professional life.

Resistance: There is a natural innate tendency for people to face resistance with negative energy – often going head-to-head with the problem, being defensive in response, taking offense and thinking “I know better”. However through work with resistance poses we learn the exact opposite. When you create resistance in a pose (hand-to-hand pushing together, feet firmly on the ground, elbow-to-knee tension) and using Mula Banda (pelvic floor muscle work and deep breathing) you discover that your body extends, lengthens, grows and finds deep balance and stability. Rather than your body fighting back, your body uses the resistance to GROW.

Asymmetry: On external examination, our bodies seem symmetrical – two arms, two legs and a fairly equal skeleton. However anatomically our bodies are naturally asymmetrical. Our left lung is smaller than our right side. Our heart, stomach, spleen and pancreas are placed on our left side, women often have one breast larger than the other, and we usually find one side of our body is stronger than the other. When we practice asymmetrical yoga poses (side bends, triangle pose, lunges etc) and pay attention to our bodies, we suddenly become acutely aware of this asymmetry. It may be easier to do Tree Pose standing on your left leg rather than your right, your right hand may reach down to the floor in Triangle Pose whereas your left hand only reaches the ankle. Despite the asymmetry, we find stability in the pose and don’t allow ourselves to fall. We use stability muscles, strong feet and legs, and breathing to counter the effects of asymmetry. Despite the illusion of balance, we are aware that our bodies are not symmetrical and naturally balanced – we need to CREATE it!

Being grounded: A person can be grounded physically, for example in a standing pose with two strong legs placed on the ground, or lying in cobra pose with legs connected to the ground. In these strong poses, your body feels totally SUPPORTED, connected and is given permission to relax into the pose. There is a clear sense of knowing who and where you are physically. Being grounded can also be an emotional or mental state, where you feel balanced, centered, calm and relaxed, as a result of being firmly connected to your true self. In this state, you know that you can respond in a balanced and controlled way to all situations.

Being grounded for many is an idealized state, but something that is far from attainable in the craziness of a multi-tasking life. However, what Yoga teaches us is that even in the resistant and asymmetrical states- where multi-tasking, stress, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed live- there is the possibility of finding calm, balance and stability.

For me, Yoga Nashit is about taking the poses and using them as a learning tool – what does each pose teach me about my body, about my limitations, about how I view myself and how do I connect to others around me. For me its more than just Yoga – it’s a way of connecting, understanding and healing.

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