We had a really amazing group practice last night. 40 folks came, which was really great fun and provided a wonderful cohesive energetic field in which to practice. The room got nicely warm without being oppressively hot and people's spirits were high, yet focused. I deiced not to make a play list as I had some points I wanted to teach and my personal opinion (based on my experience and observation, mind you- is that once the music is playing, the creative mind, the artistic presence takes over and the focus to required to learn and penetrate is much less present. It is not a bad thing, I love music- it just moves us into a different intelligence is all. And I wanted a focus in the room so we could explore a bit deeper than just doing, even though it was a "practice" and not a "class".
It was a forward bending week so we worked with special emphasis on the loops of the legs and getting super steady in the shins to create greater opening and ease in the hips. Yes, steadiness and ease was the theme- although I talked more about ease from a psychological perspective and steadiness from a physical perspective. This is my understanding of Mr. Iyengar's commentary on the sthiram sukham asana sloka- the posture should be steady and comfortable. And while most agree that Patanjali was referring to the seat one takes for meditation, we can glean other layers of meaning for it now as well.
Asana might also be the seat of our prana, the seat of our vital force and this instruction tells us we need to seat that force within us in a steady and comfortable way.
Asana might also mean the seat of who we are, our identity- the Self and also the self, depending which kosha we are talking about and which perspective we take- spiritual, psychological, etc. keep in mind that the english word for posture has a definition tat directs us into the physical sheath but also one that takes us to the more interior layers- Posture means physical position AND inner attitude. So it all depends, right?
And what I love is that the sutra is embedded in the method- Open to Grace and set the foundation- Take you seat. Muscle energy- Make your seat. Organic Energy- Expand with ease. It is also embedded in the very physicality and functionality of the body- get into an inquiry of the stretch receptors and the golgi tendon apparatus and we begin to see that when the body recognizes appropriate steadiness physically, appropriate muscle engagement, that is- a message is sent to the muscle fibers to release, to stretch, lengthen and find a greater ease. No matter where you look, the sutra pops up.
In fact, it pops up all throughout the sutras- this wonderful balance of of steadiness and ease- we see it in the first chapter when we are told that practice (abhyasa - look again and see asa- which is in the sanskrit word for practice and also in asana!) and detachment (vairagya) are ways to still the citta. (And yes, to the Anusara Yoga Immersion 2 grads, I am not using Shiva-Shakti tantra interpretations here I am speaking more from the classical translations as for this discussion that perspective carries no limitation for me at all and I am a fan of learning to still the mind, remember? I am also in agreement with the tantra that says we can be seated (OOHH.. there it is again.. being seated!) in the Heart through other means as well. No conflict for me between paradigms. But I digress.)
So we need a positive aspect of practice- the things we do, the actions we take, etc and we need a dispassionate, detached and renunciate aspect as well- there are things we will "take up" and there will be things we "give up" in order to move deeper into sadhana.
Look into the section in chapter 2 and you will see this clearly again when you explore the yamas and the niyamas. Each of the yamas, for instance- non-harming, truthfulness, non stealing, etc is stated and then a sutra is given about what happens when we are established in the practice of them. The boon (the ease) of the yama only comes when steadiness is established. For instance- when established in ahimsa, all others abandon hostility in our presence. When established in satya, our words create reality. When established in asteya, precious jewels come. And so forth. Again- steadiness and ease.
Anyway- I didn't go into all of that last night- we mostly did an Operation Thighs Back kind of class (I am getting ready for this weekend, henry!) which, after some opening focused vinyasa, standing poses and floor work, led into krouncasana. My pose was very free and clear. Quite lovely.
All right then. Enough said for now. Onward into the day!