On the weekend I tried out a yoga sequence a friend had been working on. This style, yet to be named, is a rigourous blend of vinyasa flow yoga and tai chi, with an emphasis on creating movement from the core. It consisted of one long sequence practiced multiple times. Rather than practicing on the mat, you instead slowly move up the room as you transition through the flow sequence.
So a group of us met Saturday morning at the yoga studio to practice with no lights, no air con – the way the real yogis used to do it!
The routine began with us standing in tadasana. We then moved through a range of postures – standing, sitting, prone and supine.
We slowly moved up the hall, flowing through postures elegantly and fluidly like dancers on a stage – floating from warrior one to dancing warrior, warrior two, side flank and so on; Gliding from padottanasana to headstand then moving to the floor and transitioning through more postures till we ended up in hanumanasana.
The rigorous sequence took roughly 20 minutes each side. After the first round, we had worked up quite a sweat and found that so much more than physical exertion was needed when it came to this asana practice.
It’s easy to become distracted in yoga class. I’ve heard some of my students say that they like when I remind them to focus on their breath as otherwise they tend to plan out their day in their minds during class! This series was a wonderful example of meditation in movement. The sequence was strong, energising and challenging and forced the mind – whether it liked it or not – to withdraw from the external environment and go within so you could concentrate, balance and flow through the series.
The sequence also helped re-ingrain some yogic wisdom that we often tend to forget, namely, the importance of going within your limit. The sequence was intensive. The postures were tough. Even if you are a master at holding bakasana (crow pose), you had to pace yourself if were going to stick it out for the four rounds we practiced. You had to centre yourself, go within your limits and remember what Patanjali said so many centuries ago, Sthira Sukham Asanam (that is, a posture should be steady and comfortable). Becoming aware of the breath and focusing on it, became essential in order to hold the postures and create that lightness in the body in order to transition comfortably and smoothly.
So next time you practice – whether a gentle or intensive sequence – try to go beyond the physical and make that extra effort to bring awareness to the breath and block out those thoughts. How many times in a day would you have the chance to get away from the day’s pressures and worries? Not many, I’m guessing. Yoga is the perfect tool to tap into this. So next time you practice, don’t just think of yoga as an exercise, but rather moving meditation!