Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Evolution and Personal Transformation


When I first started writing this post, it was to be a daily account of the classes I had went to at the 5th Evolution Asia Yoga Conference which I attended from 9 till 12 June 2011 in Hong Kong.   I have decided instead to write a post about my feelings towards my own practice after attending the conference and some of the things I have learned and insights I have gained from the conference.

My intention when I decided to register for the conference was to find out how I could deepen my practice by attending the various workshops in the conference.  However, at the back of my mind, I was also thinking that by attending the conference, I would be able to jump into a handstand immediately after learning the Shakti and Siva kicks from Sadie Nardini at the conference and being able do a perfect backbend after attending Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman’s workshop on Sequencing for Backbends.

What I learned instead was that my practice has only been scratching the surface of yoga where I have only been concentrating on the asana aspect of the practice whereby being able to do the pose has taken more prominence. 

The teachers at the conference have shown that yoga has to be learned from the inside out, where awareness on what is happening in our body; being aware of our limitations without judging them, sensing how our breathing ties with the pose and finding a place of inner calm will bring us closer to realizing our inner self.

In the classes I attended at the conference, the teachers all emphasized on the anatomy as knowing the body mechanics will help us to find the optimal alignment to maximize the benefits of the yoga practice.

In the David Life’s Twist All Night class, he talked about knowing the geometry in the asana which will create a feeling of stability in the mind.  When we mindfully place our hands and legs in the asana to the shape of the asana in relationship to the earth, it will help us to feel grounded.  When doing a twisting pose, we can visualize two equal spirals moving in opposite directions; one moving upwards as we inhale to lift the spine and the other moving downwards as we exhale to twist.

In Rodney Yee’s class, he talked about Prana and Apana which are two complementary movements coming from the core of the body.   The prana controls inhaling; it is felt as an upward floating, branching, and flowering pattern. Its home is the core of the heart. The apana controls exhaling. It is the downward rooting flow, which contracts, or tones, into a seed point at the center of the pelvic floor. 

With each breath we take, prana and apana organize the movement of bones and muscles. Prana lengthens, or extends, the spine (as in a backbend) and brings the legs into internal rotation; apana rounds, or flexes, the spine (as in a forward bend) and rotates the legs externally.

Rodney also pointed out the importance of the dristhi as we move in the asana to keep us from going all over the place. When we let our eyes wander, we create distractions that lead us to stumble and lose our balance in the pose. 

I attended three of Sadie Nardini’s classes and in each of them, Sadie started the class by going through some basic anatomy.  She told us about the multiple head-to-toe interconnecting lines of muscle that make up our innermost support system and how using the Deep Core Lines along the skeleton, we can make quick gains in true power, making all the poses more possible as we keep our body healthy for years of yoga to come. Sadie said that when we go deeper, we balance stability with mobility, strength with freedom.

Sadie also told us that when we let expression takes precedence in the pose, we lose our foundation and core in the pose, loading layers of tension into ourselves.  When we build our pose from the ground up and learn to activate our deeper core muscles, we improve safety and stability in our practice as well as causing a more efficient total body/mind transformation.

During the Pranayama Intensive workshops with Paul Dallaghan, I was truly humbled as I found that I could not do some of the pranayama breathing exercises like Uddiyana Bandha and Nauli.  Paul advised me to do the belly breathing exercise to open up my belly as it is overly tight and I have difficultly relaxing and softening it in order for me to do the pranayama exercises. 

I attended Simon Low’s Anatomy and Yoga: The 10 Key Points for Every Teacher and Student where he went through with us the application of the 10 key points which are the foot and ankle, knee, hip, pelvis and SI joints, spine, shoulder and upper arms, upper limb: lower arm and hand, neck and skull and skull and brain in doing the yoga poses.  Simon reminded us to have self-responsibility, self-care and intelligence when doing the asanas and not to follow the path of least resistance where willfulness in doing the poses might lead to intense wear and tear injuries that might surface later in our life.

It was with all these new knowledge that I went into Sharath’s Led Primary Series class on the last day of the conference. I managed to survive the 2-hour class with little mishaps although there were times I was a little off in following Sharath’s count for the pose. It was an awesome experience - doing the opening and closing chant with so many practitioners and listening to Sharath’s talk after the class and I even managed to have a photo taken with him.

I am very glad that I attended the conference as it has given me a better understanding on where I stand in my practice, knowing now that I am still a very beginner in so many aspects of the practice and in order to deepen my practice and for my personal transformation, I will have to start to embrace the other aspects of the practice as well.

"Yoga is based on common sense. How to take care of yourself, how to treat others. It is based on truth and honesty, care for others and what you do being kind and patient.  It is not a dogma.  Rather it offers a remarkable and intelligent set of tools, through body, breath and mind to help every individual grow and transform." - Paul Dallaghan 


livelovelaughbefree.blogspot.com said...

Am so happy to hear of your beautifully inspiring experience which will be invaluable in your yoga journey. Keep well and keep practising. Om Shanti. xx

Brasil said...

A.M. yoga helps focus on waking the relaxed mind and body. It is very well designed. But P.M yoga is fast paced , not allowing for enough time to draw a full breath. I ended up feeling sick after a workout. I fo not recommend this version. The instructor goes thru the motions too fast.