January 15, 2012

Mind + Body + Breath = Practice

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.


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


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