Deconstructing Yoga

We often think of a yoga practice as consisting of a sequence of asanas, as we move from pranayama (breathing exercises), sun salutations and standings poses to supine poses before resting in shavasana. The linearity of time appears to run parallel along with the flow of yoga sequences. Every movement is a state of become and becoming, as we refresh, readjust and realign our bodies with the rise and fall of our inhalations and exhalations. 

From the outset, the practice of yoga would seem no different from our experience of life: time, breath and action are all interlaced within every moment. Yet, the intent behind yoga runs contrary to this indefinite and continuous succession of time from past, present and into the future. Samadhi, the transcendence of physical, time and space into the eternal stillness or no-time, represents the ultimate goal of all.  Is there ever a moment of stillness within our existence? Since our physical experience cannot be static, to look outside the self would ensue the “goal” of yoga a challenging and if not an impossible one. 

Pratyahara, the withdrawal of the sense from objects and subjects by moving one’s consciousness inwards, represents one of the methodologies in Raja Yoga to guide one along the path to Samadhi. As a yoga student and practitioner, Pratyahara is something in particular that I would remind myself from time to time during my yoga practice. The chaotic mind ceases to be distracted when we are focused intently on our breath and alignment, even more so when the yoga pose is challenging and demands our full attention. Without moving one’s consciousness inwards to the self, yoga asanas would be daunting and impossible to perform. The opposite is true too, as  the practice of yoga conditions one to steady the mind and transcend the physical limitations of the body.

If our physical experience is a construct of the mind, then is not time an illusion of the mind? To practice yoga would then be the transcending of this illusive linear construct, merging into the One mind, the consciousness of the Brahma. This is my understanding of Yoga.

 

 

Yu Ting Ong (YTT 200hr, August 2017)

Preparation into Savasana pose

In any form of the yoga practices, one of the most common poses that the instructor would instruct their students to be practicing will be Savasana (or commonly known as ‘Corpse’ pose).

To achieve Savasana;

1) Lie down on your back, with the face and torso facing upwards.

2) Both feet slightly apart (ideally the width of the mat & not further than that).

3) All the ten toes turned out and relaxed.

4) Both arms slightly away from your body.

5) Both palms facing upwards.

6) The shoulders relax downwards, with the chin slightly tilting towards the neck.

7) All facial muscles and the rest of the body relax.

8) Natural breathing takes place and try not to have any thoughts in the mind.

To most yoga newbies or anyone totally new to the practice, Savasana may seems to be one of the easiest poses to be practiced. On the contrary, any experienced instructors will tell you that it is actually one of the more difficult poses to be practiced correctly, in order to achieve its optimum effect. So why is it so difficult about practicing this pose then? Most yoga practitioners will tell you that it is by means not an easy feat to tame the mind. When the body is not doing anything, the mind will tends to wander off, recollecting past events or to be reminded of some tasks to be done later that day or the week.

Thus when practising the pose, it is important to stay present and yet be able to let go of the body and the mind, after a tough session of your yoga practice. Your mind has to be in the state of being awake and asleep at the same time; trying not to focus on any thoughts, but just be conscious and present in the moment. In addition, it is also important to be able to maintain a steady stream of natural breathing, so that the body and the mind can relax even further. Also, there is no fix period of time for anyone to stay in the pose to achieve its optimum effect. You can stay as long or as short period of time as you may require, depending on how you feel on that particular yoga practice. It is always helpful to be able to listen to the instructor’s guidance or instructions, while settling into the pose.

When Savasana is being done correctly, it will allow the mind to be conscious and not react to the thoughts coming into the mind. It will then allow full surrendering of the mind and allow the senses to be heightened. 

Namaste and have a good practice everyone. 🙂

Wayne Wong (200hrs Jan-Feb 2014)