Mind + Body + Breath = Practice

Via on Jan 15, 2012

Reflections on the Pose Dedicated to the Sage Vasistha
Rod Stryker’s Four Desires (4D) Virtual Book Club


A-symmetrical poses–especially balancing poses–bring awareness to how much more “balancing” we really need. Vasisthasana “deliberately destabilizes you in order to help you develop and grow past all of these challenges.” Rod Stryker  This is not an easy pose and many of us struggle with it because we are just trying to do the pose.

It’s interesting what goes on in the mind while we move into these more challenging poses. Rod talks about coming into this pose with the intention that the body is  integrated woking as a whole, not as separate parts. This includes the mind. Lets practice this pose and see what happens to the mind.

We get into the pose and think “stay up!” but we start to fall down. As we come out of the pose–or fall out–our minds begin to judge us as if to say “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you stay up?”  Even when it feels like our body parts are moving together, we  still need to integrate the mind. How do we do that? Through the breath.

Let’s try it again, only this time breathing evenly, in and out of the nose with the intention of connecting the body’s movements into the pose rhythmically with the breath. Don’t hurry, take your time. Start to feel the body moving as one unit, the breath being the energy that allows the body to move. If it’s your first time doing this pose, don’t be discouraged. There are variations that can be adapted to vasisthasana.

Variations of vasisthasana
Even with the variations, you’re still in an a-symmetrical posture and your imbalances will start to surface. Stay with the clear intention of moving with purpose and order as one unit: breath and body.

Variation #1:
Start on all fours, making sure that the shoulders are stacked over the wrists. Extend one leg behind you so that the knee is straightening (right leg) and turn the leg so that the inner arch is pressing against your mat. Keep the opposite leg (left leg) where it is, and feel the shin press into the ground. Find stability in your left arm, without locking the elbow, as you lift the right arm up. It’s important to move the extremities while getting into this pose, but keep the stability in the abdomen. Try the next side; keep the breath steady and even, feeling as if you are moving as one unit. For the second side, try moving the legs and arms into position as if the energy to move the limbs stems from the stability in the abdomen.

 

Variation #2
Start in downward facing dog breathing evenly. Separate the feet about one foot apart. Come into a high plank filling the lower back and feeling the weight of the shoulders over the wrists. Strengthen the lower belly and practice a slight abdominal lift (uddiyana bandha if you know it). Keep both hands pressing downward, and from the space just behind the navel turn the hips to the right and come on the inside of the right foot and the outside of the left foot. Stop and breathe keeping the hips moving up and the navel spinning to the sky. If you feel ready and your mind is steady on the breath, again from behind the navel turn a little more so it feels that your right hand needs to come off the ground and extended it upwards.

When we practice with the purpose and intention of doing the pose, our practice starts to, in the words of Rod Stryker, “reinforce one of life’s most vital lessons: there may be nothing as powerful on determining your future as your resolve to do so.”
Let’s practice this posture with the resolve to work our bodies and minds together as a unit. Manifest the pose vasisthasana from our commitment to it and from our connection to the breath.

What did you experience practicing vasisthasana with intention and purpose? Did it feel different?

Next week we will start Part IV of  The Four Desires: OvercomingResistance. We will look at Chapter 11: The Formula for Fulfilling Your Desires.

Aloha,
Chanti

Learn more about Rod Stryker and ParaYoga at RodStryker.com 
Read The Four Desires book review on Elephant Journal.
The Four Desires: YouTube talks with Rod Stryker
Read other discussions about The Four Desires
Instructions: How the book club works

 

About Chanti Tacoronte-Perez

As a traveler and painter Chanti has grounded her roots in the path of yoga wherever she has landed. Chanti began practicing Yoga during her first year in college & continued when she left for Hampshire College to complete her BA in Painting/Fine Arts and Special Education. From 2001-2004 she lived and worked in Havana, Cuba as the Hampshire College Cuba Program Coordinator where she studied Iyengar Yoga. Chanti has been studying and teaching yoga in the Tantric Hatha Linage since 2005 with her teacher Rod Stryker, founder of Para Yoga. He has taught her that everyone has the ability to know their destination and find that road to walk on. She has currently completed the Para Yoga Certification (level I) & her Restorative Yoga training with Judith Handson Lasater. Her study of Sacred Art and Yantra Painting merge her love of Yoga with her passion for painting and education. http://www.ohanashakti.com

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10 Responses to “Mind + Body + Breath = Practice”

  1. Posted to Elephant Main Facebook Page, my Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn.

    Bob W. Editor, Elephant Journal
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  2. greenbless says:

    Posted to Elephant Wellness Facebook Page.

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  3. [...] Reflections on Vasisthasana Mind+Body+Breath=Practice [...]

  4. Amy Whelan says:

    I find that when I do difficult poses, I notice how one side of the body may not have the strength the other side does. For instance, when I do this pose, I have better luck and more mind stability and breathing when I am on my right side. Balancing is the hardest, and I do often have to modify the pose. The left side is a bit more challenging. The moment I push up into the pose, my mind wants to set of the alarms. I do try to breathe and focus on the mindbody relationship, but I have to tell you, this will take a lot more practice. For now, Right side equals success, Left side equals fear. I will have to meditate on that and see what comes up for me.

    • Chanti says:

      Thanks for your thoughts Amy. Usually we all have a "better" side, we are more dominant on left or right and our body becomes conditioned. That's the beauty of these poses, the let us know we still need more balance. Maybe think about balancing something not related to the pose.
      Aloha,
      chanti

  5. Amy Whelan says:

    Not sure I understand: While I'm in the pose, think of balancing, maybe, a book on my raised hand? Please clarify. Thanks for the response!

  6. [...] weekly pilates classes –– popped into my mind. She always advises me to listen to my MBS –– mind, body and soul. I went to yoga to find an inner voice and I could not leave unsatisfied. My mind told me to endure [...]

  7. [...] Mind + Body + Breath = Practice (elephantjournal.com) Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailStumbleUponDiggPrintRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  8. [...] an inhale, begin to lift your head up off of the [...]

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