As we move towards the end of summer and toward the first days of fall, it’s a good time to slow down and take a bit of stock in our own Ashtanga practice. Fall itself is a gateway into letting go.
Through daily practice we watch mind and body respond uniquely to what appears to be the very same circumstance.
Doing the very same postures, we notice on some days our concentration lags while on others our body feels tight. During some practices, the flow of the breath and body are effortless, on most days perhaps not. On a rare day, we may actually be aware of Mula Bandha enough to think we might begin to understand it. Other days the root lock is so forgotten the practice becomes a caricature–using only arms and legs and a bit of a twist of the cervical spine. There are days we arrive at the studio and feel so very connected to the students and teachers around us. Other times we may feel bothered by others or simply want to be left alone. Becoming aware of these many fluctuations allows for the falling away of the states that don’t serve and nurture us.
We can access our own practice to work on non-grasping, letting go, and trimming. Summer and its high energy is headed out. Let it go. The heat falls away, the leaves fall off, and we’ll return to a quiet routine of school, office, and daily repetition.
In our own practice through Tristana(breath, posture, gaze) we work toward that same simplicity and letting go. What muscles do we not need in each posture we do? What is our gaze like? Can we allow it to be softer so that our own nervous system becomes focused, gentle, and alert? We become at home in our bodies as breath, work and relaxation take hold within both our gaze and our skin. We work within a relaxed body, using only what we need.
The softness and strength of the breath, the very essence of Ashtanga, and the concentration on the exhale will deepen our practice. We exhale summer and fall naturally fills us. If the exhale is complete the inhale simply takes hold, the air rushes into the high tide of our lungs.
Ashtanga works on the body and mind via multiple channels. As a physical asana practice, it provides most of us our entry into the 8 limbs and what follows can be an amazing amount of strength, discipline, and flexibility.
The breath, gaze, and postures along with the bandhas provide a gateway that when properly tuned can take us beyond physical prowess. At some point in the life of our work, Ashtanga practice begins to give us something more than physical health and vibrancy. The practice seeps into our consciousness and begins to teach both the awareness and uniqueness of the moment.
The grind of Ashtanga–that is the beauty and dedication of daily practice, provides moment by moment a simple container for being and consciousness. To be fully present in asanas is a gift. We then receive the messages of the practice without judgment allowing awareness to guide us. The practice provides the ability to become aware and stay the course or if appropriate to change our entire perspective on the day. Presence radiates from the simple daily routine of Ashtanga to the complex life that fills the rest of our day. The day expands, the anxiety falls away.
Thank you all so much for practicing with us. Enjoy your holiday!
September 1, 2017