The Importance of Basics

Yoga is a tantalizing practice. One of yoga's greatest joys is that you can always grow into a deeper version of a pose. Half moon with a block becomes half moon unassisted. Handstand at the wall will become handstand in the middle of the room (I hope :o). A pose can even become bigger because you take a deeper, fuller breath.

Yoga practice also has no logical endpoint. Thankfully, there is no yoga blackbelt, no Superbowl that declares you a winner and gives you a ring. It is a constant evolution. But it is only human to have days when practice becomes a pursuit of something very physical. It is often hard to stop on the search for a deepening practice to ratchet it down a notch. It is easy to forget (and forgive me on this Superbowl eve for another football analogy) the basic block and tackle. You get a little sloppy, so you drop your shoulder when you should lift your heart. Your elbows bow out. You are going too fast in a vinyasa to match movement with breath.

So today I decided to take a yoga timeout with Vinyasa Basics at BBY. To be honest, this was mostly because I had noticed that Goldie was subbing. I love Goldie's style and the very genuine, honest way that she teaches. It is so obvious that she is in love with yoga and searching for something deeper everyday in her practice and teaching. Not everyone wears their yoga heart like that - but I really appreciate that she does. She also sees the possibility in her students and shows it to them in the way that she approaches their individual challenges.

Getting back to basics with Goldie turned out to be just what I needed.

Contrary to popular belief - Yoga Basics does not mean Yoga Easy. In fact, it can actually be a little more difficult because it takes a lot of concentration to move slowly in poses and a significant amount of core strength.

I did truly appreciate the slower pace of class. I have been working a lot on breathing and releasing of my neck thanks to my Forrest practices, so I was trying to be mindful of this in the vinyasa setting - and found it was working. I also did a bunch of Sun A's with my eyes closed. Not actually as easy as it sounds - you really do center yourself by what you see - but it was nice to find out that I could do it for eight full rounds without losing focus, falling, or getting bored.

Recently, I have been feeling a lot of pressure in my wrists and some tweaking (slight) in my lower back during vinyasas. I was mostly attributing this to overuse because I've been seeking a lot of shelter on my mat this past week. While I was working through a vinyasa today, Goldie came over and adjusted my chaturanga and upward dog. I was coming down too low in the low push up and pushing myself to far out in upward dog. What did that affect? Surprise, surprise - my back and wrists! This slight adjustment alleviated the pressure. For the rest of class I made sure to be very deliberate about the movement - and left feeling so much better.

Now it's possible - and likely - that Goldie would have made that same adjustment in hip/hop or a regular class, but because I was in a safe space for alignment and correction and slowness - I was open to the change as well - and it really allowed the adjustment to sink in with me - both mentally and physically.

This is the power of basics. It might be a slower step, but it's a step forward, not back.

-Grateful Yogi