Newsletter 200th Issue
Deepening into the practice of Yoga Inbound and its benefits.
From the beginning, from the first practice, you can feel how unique and special Yoga is. Revitalizing, energizing, soothing, invigorating, therapeutic and all the beautiful adjectives we like or we would like to bring to our lives at different levels (physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, spiritual). No matter how we get to Yoga, if we are honest, in the end we will taste the most beneficial outcome of practice.
Of course, it is essential to follow precise guidelines for a healthy session to gain time and avoid both unnecessary and undesirable efforts. Each person has a very particular story and lifestyle that makes it unique, each one perceives life and moments in a different way, and sometimes it seems that something is exactly the same … (it is not), this is the magic of the Universe.
In Yoga it is healthier to adapt the practice to each individual´s possibilities (or needs) rather than trying to adapt to a particular routine in which a person does not feel well. In addition, standing on your head or holding your breath for a long length of time does not necessarily mean being a good Yoga practitioner.
To be a good practitioner we must learn to flow naturally and emerge victorious in every challenge that life presents us using tools that yoga gives us, whether they are asanas -postures-, breathing, meditation, chanting sacred sounds -mantras-, etc .; therefore if the practice is comprehensive, the benefits come as a natural cause.
The more honest and disciplined we are with our practice and the better we follow the advice of our instructors and masters to improve, the more it will reflect positively.
I usually always tell my students, or those who come to one of my classes; that a person should not be vague in Yoga, but must not overstrain either; this applies to the different areas of life as stated in the Bhagavad Gita, a work that is accepted by serious Yoga practitioners and recommended by the great yogis. In Bhagavad Gita 6-17 Krishna as a Master tells his student and friend Arjuna: “He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, recreation and work can mitigate all material pains by practicing the Yoga system. “
The demand more from oneself is to recognize the limits, to feel them, and to find ways to gradually go further. It is a law in life, as I have learned from those who have taught me (those whom I call instructors and masters). Yoga is proper effort and acceptance. Working hard and relaxing with a good conscience by giving the best there is. Understanding that we are controlled by the Supreme Will.
Thus, Yoga is the key to another dimension, to a wonderful reality that sometimes is not recognized and ranges from the densest (our physical body) to the most intimate (our soul -essence), passing through intelligence, mind, emotions and everything, absolutely everything is part of a human being.
Yoga is living in the broadest sense of the word, is to find yourself and fill yourself with health, peace and energy to radiate to others and to the world, to participate actively and happily in the Universal Game. If we focus just on physical benefits then we will stay in a very superficial aspect.
The real benefits of Yoga are that it connects us with the soul, makes us strong, useful, full of energy; we evolve to the platform where thanks to our inner transformation we do not expect to receive but rather give, in one word: serve. Because yoga is not a service department, Yoga is the area of service.
UTTITHA HASTA PADANGUSTHASANA EQUILIBRIUM POSTURE GRABBING THE BIG TOE
In the practice of Asanas (Yoga postures) the balance standing up is certainly one of the biggest challenges for beginners and veteran practitioners. Its proper execution requires deep physical and mental strength, stability, strength, calm and deep breathing, create balance between the two hemispheres of the brain, maintain maximum attention, focus awareness, develop determination, courage, strength and connection to the Earth. These challenges themselves are great virtues that we acquire little by little.
As we deepen in practice we find that there is never a limit; because actually asana is “seat”, “firm and stable posture,” but existence in this world is dynamic and therefore a foundation must be implemented and we must remain firm every moment, have an attitude towards life, facing every day-to-day challenge for us to grow.
The discipline of Hatha Yoga is not only to do well an asana on a mat or on the sand at the beach. In any case standing “firm and balanced” is a must to make things right in this world and involves more internal than external conditions. That is why our Yoga is Yoga Inbound, Yoga we work from within and towards within.
To do Uttitha Hasta Padanghustasana practice must begin with a meditative attitude and gratitude and we must provide our practice as an offering to the Supreme Will; the Creator. Then heating the body with Sun / Moon salutations, as well as hip opening / hip extension; and some onward bending. The following explanation will be extensive in order to make it useful for beginners and veteran practitioners. I clarify that here the variant with hip opening is not exposed but will be left for a next time.
From Samasthiti we prepare ourselves mentally to lift the right leg staring at a fixed point with breathing deeply. As the basis of the position is the left foot then you must tread firmly with your left foot, pressing the base of the big toe, the base of the little toe and the support points of the heel; the ankle of the left leg should also “contract subtly to the center” (if you have flat feet the challenge will be greater but with patience and practice you will get it).
The supporting leg must be stable, with stretched knee, quadriceps and calf active. Buttocks and lower abdomen moderately contracted. If you contract too much you will create stress and unnecessary waste of energy, but if you don´t activate muscular energy with subtle and proportionate contractions then the position will be weak (in Asana Yoga these contractions / pressure are known as bandhas, besides being a safety measure to prevent short or long term injuries; bandhas constitute real energy locks).
Keep your left hand on the waist all the time. Once established the foundations, at first simply just lift your bent right leg and grab the knee with your hand during a deep inhalation. This is an easier variation as we gain confidence, flexibility and strength. Then you can grab the big toe with your hand and finally lift the right leg stretched until you grab the big toe with your arm also stretched.
In all cases the ideal thing is to make the leg reach out to the hand and not the other way, it is a classic way of working that helps us develop strength and flexibility while it´s also healthier.
Please avoid inflecting the hip before grabbing the knee or the big toe; it is forbidden to strain your back to hold the raised leg, the spine must be protected at all times. You can stay here breathing freely, feeling that you have roots growing from the kickstand to the center of the earth.
When the above becomes more natural then you are ready to flex the torso forward contracting a little more your lower abdomen but keeping your back straight and chest open, shoulders active but not contracted and less sloping; in the final position the right elbow will flex a little and your gaze turns towards the big toe of the raised.
Once in position, do 5 or more deep and full breaths but without reaching a breaking point where your breathing is altered or where you feel your body is unstable. Afterwards, unravel the inflection with a deep breath and finally return to samasthiti on exhalation. Now repeat the process for the other side exactly as explained.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND PRECAUTIONS:
Ankle problems or weakness of the same
Serious knee injury
Low back injury
* An important observation is that for experienced practitioners there is the option of bending a little (and sometimes more) the back in the final position by performing a Mula and Uddiyana bandha very intensely -in some schools known as janushirasana- dandayamana; Yoga Inbound advises against this without the necessary skills or without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Ahimsa or non-violence also means not hurting the body when trying something for which we are not prepared. In addition, as stated in the beginning, the state of Yoga involves more an internal than an external position.
Author: Mahavan Das – Pablo Parra
Inbound Yoga Instructor – Villavicencio – Colombia