'Tis the season to be jolly. 'Tis also the season for stretching yourself emotionally, financially and physically. Last week the class was restorative poses. Poses to calm the mind, ease tension, headaches and stress. I talked a little about the benefits during the class but I promised more, so here it is.
The following information is all based on the teaching and wisdom of BKS Iyengar. I merely seek to share...
Why did we use so much equipment?
Supported asanas are restful and tone the body with minimum effort. They should not be underestimated as they have a powerful physiological effect. They nourish the nervous system and increase the efficacy of the glandular system, which is essential for physical & mental health. The inner organs stay for some time in positions where they are extended or massaged. Hidden parts of the body & cells are activated. No-one can afford to neglect these tremendously beneficial poses.
Why did we focus on the breathing (Pranayama)?
Pranayama calms & strengthens the mind and creates a feeling of internal space. It generates a store of energy in the body. Once the lungs are strong, it increases their capacity. Different types of pranayama induce different states of awareness.
Breath and mind are closely linked. Usually the state of mind affects the breath. It becomes agitated and shallow during moments of excitement. When it is quiet and deep the mind becomes calm. In pranayama, breath is used to change the mental state. The mind is trained to follow the course of the breath, and, by doing so, its scattered thoughts are channelled inwards.
The senses, too, are quietened by pranayama and drawn inwards. By nature, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin are attracted to their objects - constantly seeking new experiences. Detaching them from their objects and drawing them inwards, leads to a state that is self contained, where nothing external is required. This is the 'desireless' state (Pratyahara). Once achieved, the distinction between everyday life and spiritual life is known.
For myself, yoga is a work in progress. I don't claim to be a fantastic guru. I have never reached Pratyahara. But it sure feels good trying.
I hope yoga, and in particular, practising restorative poses followed by pranayama, will bring you a deep sense of calm, stillness and peace. After all, 'tis the season.
Wishing you all a magical Christmas filled with love, light and laughter.