Thankfully the theme this week is much simpler than last! We are working with Opposites, something everyone understands.....
In Monday morning's practice we started with 'Left versus Right - or do They ?'. So, we definitely all know our left from right, don't we? Admittedly, I am one of those folks who shouts 'Go Left!" as I put up my right hand and quite often get confused whilst teaching, causing a bit of a game of Twister to occur! I find closing my eyes helps to focus. It can often feel like one side of me is fighting the other, trying to dominate. My left leg is definitely stronger and more grounded, in fact the whole of my left side is - which is odd as I write with my right hand!
Do you know which side of your body likes to be in charge ? An easy test is to practice Vrkasana, Tree pose ( see at the bottom of this Blog!) on both sides with your hands in Anjali Mudra/ Prayer hands, which are a balance seal connecting the left and right side of your brain. Try to close your eyes too, but watch for the wobble! One standing leg may hold you better than the other or so it leads you to believe.... Do both sides again and consider what is actually aiding your balance. Everything is working towards the centre, to your imaginary plumb line. If you lean one way or the other you will topple! Each muscle and joint and all your ligaments, tendons and fascia automatically lengthen, shorten and move to find that perfect alignment you need to stay upright. Even your eyes or rather maybe your eyes even more than your standing leg are both really involved in the action - try closing one or both and see how the lack of visual connection to a focal point affects you!
Findings from this class - our physical bodies don't have two opposing sides! They are two different sides and one may appear stronger but they share one centre point, which is what both sides are always working towards to keep us together, not split us in two!
Our next class on Monday evening is Yoga Nidra practice - no physical action needed here, just a comfy space to be still and a pair of ears to listen! Again we were thinking of Opposites - here's a short clip from the practice to let you SEE what we SAW there !.......
For the other 27 minutes of that you will have to join our next Pop Up if you are not an MBY Yogi already. Check out what's coming in June on the Charity Pop Up Page!
Tuesday morning gets a bit more active in class! Our 'Opposite' theme had us looking at Counter Poses. These are essential to any Yoga Practice to reset ourselves before moving on. An obvious example is what should follow on from a floor based Backbend. We use the strength of the thoracic spine or upper back body to lift our head and chest away from the floor. Hands and arms are useful supports where necessary. The point to focus on as we lift is that little spot between our shoulder girdles which we draw everything towards; right and left shoulder blades, right and left upper arms, tops of both shoulders and back of right and left collarbones. I always imagine a red dot in that spot and then once everything is drawn into it I visualise it sliding down my back, squeezing it towards the back of my waist. This is a super posture strengthener for those stuck hunched at desks all day!
So we moved into Baby Cobra, Sphinx, Seal and half Bow - all powerful Backbends to hold. Releasing to the floor and resting the head on the hands in a neutral spinal following each position may be enough as a Counter Pose to rest the spine after these Asanas. Here we also drew back into various versions of Child's Pose, a well used CounterPose, a very easy Forward Fold and the reverse therefore of the spinal movement and direction in a Backbend.
Again, remember our physical bodies don't have two opposing, but four different sides: the right and left, front and back that work together. If you work one side you need to balance by working the other. If you contract one way and build tension you need to release this by contracting in the other direction or at the least coming back to a restful neutral. This keeps the spine healthy, flexible and strong and will stop you permanently looking down at the floor or up at the sky like you are permanently stuck in that game of Twister!
Some say 'Listen to your body' may be becoming an overused phrase in many Yoga classes. Surely though this is one of the main lessons of Yoga - to learn to understand through experiencing it, how it feels and what your body needs, a question we asked of ourselves right through this class. Pose/Counterpose.... opposites which always work best together to bring us back to centre!
For those that want to try Tree Pose as suggested above here it is....don't forget to do the other side, your CounterPose!
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