"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail" - Charles F. Kettering

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Building a Yoga Foundation

Have you ever wondered why Synergy Yoga named its beginner yoga classes Foundations?  Whether you like the name or not, or dont care one way or another, the Foundations name was by design.

The main reason that we (the owners of Synergy and those of us teachers who happened to be present for this discussion) came up with the Foundations name is that in yoga, the foundation or base of the pose, is the most important aspect of your pose besides the breath.  As I tell my students, if the foundation of your house is lopsided, and you try to build your house atop a crooked foundation, your structure will be unstable.  Likewise, if you build your yoga pose upon an unsound foundation, your pose will be unstable.  Were taught as teachers when we see a student that looks off in the pose to check their foundation first.  Often the foundation is all that needs to be corrected, and the pose then corrects itself.

Foundation can refer to the base of the pose, or to the base of the practice itself.  Its important to build a strong foundation for your yoga practice, through the basics in yogabreathing, alignment, and basic standing and seated posturesbefore you try more advanced postures.  This is not to hold you back or to make you feel bad about yourself.  Quite the opposite!  Its important to build the strength and the stamina in the body and the integrity in the base poses first, before moving on to more advanced asanas so youll feel confident when youre ready to attempt them.  Sure, you still may have fear when you go upside down, but at least youll know your shoulders and core strength are strong enough to keep you up.  More importantly, its to keep you safe!  If you attempt a headstand, for instance, when your neck, shoulder and abdominal muscles arent strong enough, you risk serious injury.

Yoga is very different than other physical practices we do.  Its not like football or tennis or other competitive sports.  And its different than our working environment where competition is the norm.   So its hard to come to our mats and turn all that off.  Were very driven by our minds and by our egos, and we want to perform well.  Were used to competing, and to winning.  (Flash of Charlie Sheen, Winning!)  In fact, were so driven in our society to win or not fail that for some people its hard to admit theyre beginners.  I have found in my 10 years of teaching that many new students would rather jump into intermediate classes and risk injury than be labeled a beginner.  So, just for a moment, go inward and notice if being a beginner in something whether its yoga or something else makes you feel somehow, less than?

Now take a deep breath in through the nose, and then exhale through the mouth and let it all go.  Let out that need to win.  Let go of that feeling of being less than.  Let go of that fear of failing.  Yoga gives us permission to let go.  Does that mean you cant work to be better in your yoga practice!  Of course not!  We celebrate your effort!  And we celebrate your successes!  You can too!  Yoga just asks us not to get attached to them.  

Every single day you come to your mat is a different day.  And really, every single moment youre on your mat is a different moment, so how can you expect it to be like the moment before?  Let each moment be a new exploration of your body, your breath and your practice.  Dont be in a hurry to get the pose.  Enjoy the small victoriesthe mastering the breath; being able to balance longer on one leg in Tree pose; the getting a little deeper in a forward bend; suddenly finding your heels on the ground in Downward Facing Dog; or your hips on the floor in Hero pose.  Maybe you notice you dont fly off the handle as much when someone provokes you?  This too is marker of progress in your yoga practice.  If you remember the journey is as important (and as much fun) as the destination youll enjoy the practice so much more!  


Barbara James is ERYT-200, RYT-500 ceritified, Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher at Synergy Yoga & Wellness.

No comments:

Post a Comment