Last night, I realized part of the reason I’ve felt so sluggish the past couple of days was yoga withdrawal. So when I was at the empty studio today, I set aside some time to practice teaching myself. I discovered that in rare moments when the house is empty and the pets are settled, I can get into a deeper practice just by talking about what I’m doing. I’m challenging myself to describe yoga in a way other people can connect with.
Just like the IT support guy in “Phoenix” talking a baby boomer through format c: /s (or something), explaining how or why I get my body to do the asanas seems almost impossible. Generally I like to keep things very organized and use deliberate language but that doesn’t seem to fit the way I want to express myself for this. I discovered this obstacle when I tried to talk someone through tadasana. It takes so many words to explain how to practice standing. It’s something I simply grok at this point.
Since then, I’ve been narrating what I do during mindful practices trying to recapture what it feels like to be unaware of certain postures. It doesn’t take much because standing in tadasana is exhausting when you’re being really precise. There are so many different points of awareness encompassed in that pose, I can talk myself through 5 minutes and still not be done. It’s the ultimate balancing pose because you are working on balancing all the opposing forces along the central nervous system.
Not falling over is a battle against gravity, but in tadasana you are fighting the tightness and habit of your own body. It starts out feeling awkward and strange, but after enough practice it becomes a comfortable default stance. It’s the ultimate preparation for headstand too – your internal balance is extra especially important when you are supporting yourself with the other end of your body. I guess it makes sense that it’s one of the hardest poses to describe, huh?
Anyway, I taught to myself for almost 30 minutes, just going over tadasana and vrksasana. I also covered a little bit of arms and sukhasana because I find starting the “class” siting down is much less intimidating. Oddly, that’s also where I had my biggest breakthrough on describing a successful tadasana. I pretty much have to define everything with a metaphor or simile before I can express my thoughts verbally. So, tadasana is when your legs feel anchored to the ground and your chest is a balloon – the only thing holding the two together is a string of 5 vertebrae and some muscles. (Granted they are really big muscles, but there’s no need to ruin the metaphor.)
Tadasana is what you use to stretch and relax the body, but not lose your poise. Essentially, it opens up the mind and body to create a more receptive state of being. This might not be the ideal way to phrase it for a beginner, but those concepts simplify things down to something I can wrap my head around. The rest is just details.
After today, I’m more excited than ever to start teacher training. This week was a great reminder that I am capable of having a meaningful home practice. At least when I can keep the chaos at bay. 😉