Tips for Yoga as a Movement Exploration

Why do you practice Yoga? I’ve been exploring this theme in my own practice this past week. With a shoulder injury and limited range of motion, I’ve found my Yoga looks more restorative and less structured than ever before. I practice on my mat today to explore movement in my body and to feel more at ease with my thoughts. Yoga, to me, is not about perfecting a pose or performing. (Although Instagram photos might have you think otherwise.) 

I’m more interested in how people can approach this practice of Yoga with love, joy and curiosity for their body than I am teaching them the steps to fix this or that. When I sit with a student to explore alignment of postures, it’s so much more than the shape that their body makes. It’s about observing with a spirit of inquiry to see how the body moves from and into the pose. How absolutely curious we can be about the sensation beyond the surface of the skin and into what is happening within the body, however subtle so that we can begin to reject any numbing or avoidance of sensations and embrace and explore ourselves with tenderness.

Sometimes, though, you just have to move, breath and not think about it all so much. That’s when the practice becomes a meditation. The breath moves the body as if it were a symphony of individual notes to compose our body’s most beautiful work, however messy or imperfect it feels or looks on the outside. That’s when pose itself is not focus but simply being courageous enough to be still within the spaces of the movement or move slow enough to feel more fully. 

The gift of Yoga is sensitivity to our bodies, and ultimately, sensitivity to life.

As you explore movement (Yoga or otherwise) this week consider a few things to help you become more aware and easeful. 

Take a walk in nature without your phone on you at all.TObserve how you move or don’t move your arms. What does it feel like to change up the pace or pattern of your walking?  

If you normally go to a Yoga class, practice Yoga without instruction (on your own) or without music. Just allowing your intuition and breath to be your guide. What do you observe?

Whatever activity you’re dong during the day, notice your breath. Is it shallow, deep, full or feather light? Every time you bring your attention to your breath, take 5 more with the focus of moving your ribs in a full, round way. Feel the front, side, back and in-between the ribs as your breath folds and unfolds. Do this at least 3-5 times in one day for different activities and notice if you feel more or less energy. More or less concentration. 

Whatever movement you choose to do this week, observe how it might help you do something else more attentively. For example, when I begin to move on my Yoga mat with the purpose of unwinding and twisting and curving or extending my spine, I feel instant softness in my upper torso. Later, when I sit at my computer, I find my shoulders often become tense, and I need to move and shift to relieve tension. As soon as I recognize the tension, I move my spine in every direction and with that small movement, I’m able to focus more, as if I hit a reset button my brain. What movement on your mat makes you more aware in your daily activities?

Move with no goal in mind. Can you find an activity that you can do without the aim of perfection or performance? Just move for the sake of moving or having fun!

Reflect this week if your journey can be more of a playful exploration than technique driven outcome. Alignment is important but not at the expense of pleasurable, exploratory movement that just makes you feel good. A great litmus test is: Do I feel safe in this pose? And, how will I feel a few days after? If the answer is yes and good, then your practice is much more likely to bring you that Ananda (joy) and cultivate Prema (love) that you seek. 

In Joy, 

For Yoga Teachers, I’d love to work with you to figure out your next step start now with a free 45 session: 3 month Accompaniment for Yoga teachers. Book a private session in Calgary or Houston now with a special price for 2 sessions, email me for dates.


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