Practice with/sans Reflection

Practise without physical reflection, practise with inner reflection. This was precisely how I felt when I first started the YTT.

Unlike yoga studios which I frequent, there was an absence of that full length mirror synonymous with dance and yoga studios. For once, I could not use the mirror to adjust my posture, to ensure that my hips are squared and not lopsided. Needless to say, I could not look really look at students around me except to be focused at my own body alignment. And with that absence of my sight being the tool for adjustments, I had to rely solely on knowing my body parts and isolating the muscles for correct engagement – what hip width distances meant, the hyperextension of joints especially the elbow, and more importantly, that every pose requires full engagement of the body and neither of them in resting, even the physical gaze (drishti) and inner gaze.

Having this need for an inner reflection, other than figuring out where each muscles are, also meant that I had to constantly fight the thoughts that cross my mind – little voices in my head that tell me to take a break or to cheat 5 crunches out of the 100 especially when I could feel the abrasion forming at my lower back. To combat this, we were told to focus on the Ujayi Breath (Ujayi meaning victory over self), to use this breathing technique to “distract” us from the physical senses arising from the discomfort. I did feel the effect of it (!!), probably due to the fact that I’m not a multitasker so the focus to breathing really meant that I could divert the attention from other parts.

Before you learn to stand you need to learn how to fall. I fell countless times while going up on a pincha or handstand without a wall and true enough, once I got the hang of falling, going up wasn’t that daunting anymore. There is no other way to perfect a craft other than hard work, to a point where you are able to achieve pratyahara and not be dependent and influences by bodily senses. In performing an asana, I was constantly reminded that I need 3 key ingredients – stamina, flexibility and strength. I guess, that’s what I’ll need to keep practising on.

 

Hui Lian