3 Tips for Excellent Yoga

3 Tips for Excellent Yoga

How much can you benefit from applying these deceptively simple tips to your personal practice and to your intention in yoga classes? try it in your next practice and find out!

1) Keep Re-Minding the Breath

Asana (posture work) without mindfulness of breath does not lead to yoga. Breath is the liaison between the body and the mind, and as such it is the main emphasis, the location, the home of yoga. Every movement and posture can be yoked to and enlivened by the breath.

Always begin with reference to the breath, and invite the mind back to the breath throughout the practice. Never hold a pose; always call upon the breath to bring inner movement to every posture so that it is fluid and alive, rather than stiff.

When you think that the body is at its limit, disbelieve your thoughts. If you give the inhalation a chance to expand the body’s limits by softening, even momentarily backing off of capacity’s edge (see tip number two), the exhalation may reward you with the disappearance of perceived limitations.

2) Dance on the Edge of Capacity

Some teachers are good at reminding students not to push the edge. Others are good at inviting students to question and challenge their limitations. Both views are right and both views, independent of each other, are limited and limiting.

Asana practiced aggressively does not lead to yoga. Asana that stays a safe distance from all difficulties also does not lead to yoga. This is because yoga is full integration with no exception, and staying away from our edges will keep them in the dark.

That which is in the light is already in the light. That which comes easily is of no interest to yoga practice. Yoga practice is not intended to highlight and celebrate our excellence; it is here to reveal, to spotlight our weaknesses and fears, our laziness and pettiness, and to transform our understanding of these shadows by demonstrating that these, too, are made of light. Go patient and brave to the edges that lie in the shadow, and you will find yoga.

Yet any desire to banish, to annihilate, even to “free oneself” from the shadow is misguided, and it can and in most of our modern “styles”, it does lead to unnecessary and harmful aggression. Never try to beat the edge with a sledgehammer. The nataraj of yoga dances joyously on the edge of capacity. Let the spanda of breath, the eternal frequency of expansion and contraction, set a rhythm for dancing around the edge and you may find that it softens, perhaps even that is was never really there.

 Learn until you know. Ask until you are clear. Practice until you feel whole.

3) There’s Always Time to Mind Alignment

A focus on alignment can sometimes fail to seduce the distracted minds of students raised on video games and speed-cut music television. There is nothing essentially wrong with giving ourselves the pleasure of flowing movement that most of us so desire. Yet this has led to an inordinate amount of fluffy and aerobic yoga classes that do little for the mind.

Always mind the alignment of the body. Drawing the mind into the body via the breath is the very essence of asana practice, and there is always time to mind alignment.

By all means give your body the chance to flow. You will fatigue your distractedness and cut a path to your heart. Yet also sharpen your mind and your skills of alignment no matter the tempo. There is always time to draw mind to the lower abdomen, to the medial arches of the feet, to the bases of the index fingers and the thumbs.

If you don’t know what every part of the body should do in every gesture, go study it until you do. Yoga is the complete alignment of body, breath and mind, beyond the self, even at the edge of the capacity of body, breath and mind. If your teachers’ insights into yoga are not in alignment with each other, their teaching or your understanding are not yet complete.

Let me know in the comments below.


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As always, thanks for popping in and see you soon.

franco nero
about the author

Franco defines itself as a person trapped in a sedentary lifestyle, however, he is an avid fitness "addict" and like, many more in his environment spends vast parts of his leisure time on a gym, running, cycling.

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2 thoughts on “3 Tips for Excellent Yoga

  1. Yoga is recognized as a form of mind-body medicine that integrates an individual’s physical, mental and spiritual components to improve aspects of health, particularly stress related illnesses.

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