Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 107 - Self-Pacing in Postures and Practices
Date: Thu Feb 5, 2004 11:47am
Q: I have been ‘dabbling’ (sometimes alot, sometimes little) in ashtanga yoga for 5.5 yrs and my yoga has helped me with the breathing and mulabandha (ashtanga very enjoyable- even for a xc skier/triathlete who is not too flexible) and recently I was in a car accident that has strained my wrist. Do you have any suggestions on how I could modify sun salutations and vinyasas to most effectively continue my practice, as I had just started to get on a roll again before the car crash?
A: For sun salutation, asanas, and, in fact, all yoga practices, the first rule is to never force, and always use gentle persuasion. If there is some stiffness, injury, or discomfort, then we just go to our natural limit and test it a little. Never to the point of pain or strain. Just to the point of the limit of movement, and then be there for the time of our posture. This may be nowhere near the full posture, which is perfectly fine. We do what we can comfortably in the direction of the posture without strain, knowing we will be doing gradually more in subsequent sessions. If any degree of stretch becomes uncomfortable, we back off to a comfortable level. Or, if it can go a little further without strain, then we let it. This is what we have talked about many times as we go through advanced yoga practices. It is the principle of “self-pacing.” It is the fine art of progressing in yoga — never forcing, always using gentle persuasion. With this approach, the body and nervous system slowly but surely move to more flexibility, purification, and greater experiences of inner peace and bliss.
There is the old saying, “By the yard, life is hard. By the inch, it’s a cinch.”
It is easy to become advanced in yoga if we know how to handle self-pacing.
The guru is in you.