Advanced Yoga

It’s summer. It’s hot. We’re more active. Sweating more. Are you feeling dehydrated? Muscles get angry when we neglect hydration...so, make sure you are compensating for the heat. Drink water. Lots. of. Water.
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I have a little magic trick I’ve been sharing in class in order to beat the heat. Tongue straw. It looks really funny, but, see if you can do it, anyway. Curl up your tongue so it looks like a straw and then slowly inhale air up through the tongue in order to cool the body. Exhale through the nose. Do it several times and notice that, while It looks silly, it effectively cools your body. So, anytime in class, or while exerting yourself in this summer weather, or if it’s just peaking into the 100’s and your in survival mode, whenever you feel yourself getting too hot, transition the inhale from normal nostril breathing into the tongue straw inhale. It works...I promise.

Busy minds. It’s so easy to carry our troubles around with us instead of just allowing ourselves to be in the space we are in. Letting go of work, frustrations, worries...it’s hard to do. I like the story of the two monks walking down the street. As they walked, they came upon a woman who needed to cross the gutter and she was troubled because couldn’t get over it without soiling herself badly. The monks were going in the same direction as the woman, so the elder monk lifted her up onto his shoulder, and put her on the other side, and quietly went on his way without a word. This action pissed the younger monk off. He believed that the vows he had taken as a monk were sacred and absolutely not to be broken. After about 20 minutes, the younger monk finally lost his temper over having witnessed blatant rule breaking and went off on the other monk, his cheeks red with anger, “You know, I can’t believe you broke your vow! One of our vows is to never touch a woman and you touched her, You actually picked her up, and held her to get her over the ditch...and she didn’t even thank you! I can’t believe you would do that after making a solemn vow that you would never touch a woman!” The young monk went on and on his face getting redder with the anger he felt at his elder’s betrayal of one of his most precious vows to the brotherhood. The older monk quietly looked at the younger monk, smiled and said, “You know...I sat her down about 30 minutes ago...You are still holding her.”

How long ago do you clock out, and then continue to carry it long past when you were at work? How long do you carry a resentment, an irritation, an interpretation? You can hold it. You can hold it as long as you like. Forever if you must. Or you can...just let go. It doesn’t matter. It’s not happening right now. Right now, is...now.

Yoga is a practice, but it’s not just a practice of headstands and arm balances. It’s not simply about getting better at triangle. In a way, the asana is a way to trick the mind. What we are actually practicing is getting OUT of our heads and into our bodies. I’ve never considered a person who has the most perfect hand stand, or the most instagram worthy triangle pose to be doing “advanced” yoga. Advanced yoga is being at​ your level--not caring if the person next to you is doing something else. The simplest, most basic version of the pose, as long as you are
present and breathing in the moment at the place you are actually at...well, that is advanced yoga.

I consider seeing child’s pose in my yoga classes to be one of the most advanced poses, because of how hard it is for people to let go of wanting to prove that they can go deeper, harder. People like to prove they can do it. And, while we want to be honest with what we need, (because sometimes child’s pose is taken out of reluctance to push forward--we have to ask ourselves where we really are at. Do we need child’s pose? That’s advanced, then, to take it.

Do we want child’s pose because we don’t want to do another plank because...it’s hard...well...how about you go ahead and work your way into plank. And breathe. And...smile. That’s advanced yoga, too. Being at your level, where you are, right now.) On the other hand, ongoing child’s pose at home might be considered the worst pose to indulge in...it’s just too easy to spend 45 minutes in child’s pose at home, and checking off an hour long yoga practice with just child’s is not really having a yoga practice. It’s resting. Resting is valuable. We all need to rest. But, do pay attention to the tendency to just want to hang out there. Too much time in child’s pose doesn’t give us everything we really need when we are practicing filling up our bodies. Being where we really are; That’s advanced yoga. We’re getting out of our heads and back into our bodies. Lifting our hearts. Finding the space to discover what it is we are grateful for, today.

Namaste.

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