Intention (return to news page)
Not many people want to increase their stress levels but if you push yourself too much in a yoga lesson then you are practising being stressed and reducing your breathing. It's not natural any more, you're practising inhibiting it.
For a long time I had lots of doubt about whether my intention when practising yoga was wholesome. My teacher training at Morley college and all the workshops i attended with Sandra Sabatini were in stark contrast to my understanding of what was important in yoga. My perception erred on the ....to be "good " at yoga meant being able to do a backbend from the floor..(wheel) and other amazing flexible feats. Workshops with peter blackaby helped clarify what my intention could be for a wholesome practise. It still took a long time to sink in. i understood it on quite a superficial level i guess. This idea that to do more, to go further, to have a super flexible body is the best is very seductive and took a long time to be let go of.
The science helped me to let go of my ideas
We are born with a certain texture to our muscles and connective tissue which doesn't change ; no matter how much we practise. There are certain ranges of motion in our joints that are actually healthy and to go beyond that you are in danger of damaging the connective tissue that brings stability to the joint. To be hyper mobile and double jointed seems like the ideal when you are aiming high with complicated yoga poses but these people need to learn to not extend past a healthy limit which is a lot harder than meeting stiffness. The reason is is that continued over extending of a joint leads to instability. As an analogy an elastic band that's pulled beyond it's stretchiness springs to mind I know this only too well as I damaged the ligaments in my ankle, during a netball game by repeatedly "going over" my inner ankle touching the ground.The more it did it the easier it was until i couldn't stop it. My ankle hasn't yet totally recovered 20 years later. Lots of swelling and discomfort when its hot....melting and barefoot shoes really helping!!!
Stiffness is often seen as the baddy but it isn't, well not always. It depends if it's limiting your choice of movement. This is what you want to maintain. Short muscles are strong muscles so sometimes they are best short, depending on what you want to do with them. For example i cycle a lot so I need strong leg muscles. My leg muscles will be shorter than someone who doesn't cycle and whose body hasn't adapted to meet these cycling needs. Function is what it's all about. Restoring functional movement.
If your hobby is yoga and you do it every day then your body will adapt, within certain parameters, to what you are using it for and it will become a body that's good at yoga. If you swim or run most days it will become good at that.
Moving the joints in all the different ways they can move is very nourishing for the body. Having said you don't need to go to the limit to achieve this nourishing which is the seductive achiever driven part in all of us.
So what are my present intentions in my yoga practise;
Getting the parts of the body to move that need to move, for example all the joints in the feet and the spine
freeing up the body for a deeper breath by releasing tension
Having the ground, the breath and the spine as the primary focus
The deeper the breath the more you are moving into a rest and restore mode for the body. Also the deeper you breathe the more the body can ground; grounding the body is useful on many levels. That's a whole other article!
Published on Thu Jul 7, 2016