Yoga beyond asana

Yoga asana

Yoga has raised worldwidely an important practice during corona pandemic. Why? What does it offer beyond asana? On Sunday 21st of June we celebrate the International Day of Yoga, which reminds us that yoga is for health and for all.

During this spring our Instagram and Facebook feeds have filled with endless pictures of yoga, from home practitioners, teachers, social media influencers, and studios. We have seen basic postures, and more challenging asanas. Every teacher had his or her own yoga studio in the corner of every  living room. Free classes, recordings, online instas, endlessly yoga.

Why? Why we were so keen on practicing yoga this spring? Because yoga is a powerful tool to deal with stress, uncertainty and isolation, and helps maintaining physical well-being. Yoga and meditation create an union that balances our lives, as this spring we have needed it more than ever.

Should I focus on asanas and sanskrit names?
Yoga is an ancient, physical, mental and spiritual practice that has its roots in India, but quickly it spread to world widely known practice, and got new forms and styles. Ancient pictures showed old men in acrobatic asanas, which many cannot reach. That is why it felt distant and strange for many western people.

There is still strong focus on asanas, as it is the base of the practice, and some teachers and schools emphasize strongly on hard asana practice. They put pictures of difficult asanas on their social media. Is it important, does it prove that a teacher is competent, qualified, and professional? I do not think so, for me it is more lifting up an ego. Teachers should remember that everybody have different body structure, not being able to do same things in same style.

What about the Sanskrit names of asanas, that some teachers repeat? Is it necessary to know them? Yes, it is good to learn your lessons and understand the essential teachings of yoga but I think it is also a bit old fashion style, as world changes and the evolution is inevitable. I read a comment of one teacher who said “You cannot practice yoga, if you do not know the basics of the Indian teachings”. It is not true. We all are different, and have different motives to practice.

I studied my first yoga teacher training in India, Kerala, and it was an interesting journey to that yoga world. Nevertheless, I found some teachings, Hinduism, and their goddesses quite distant for me. It is a world of its own, and I’m happy to understand and respect it enough but to practice in a more versatile, diverse way.

I have practiced yoga all around the world, nearly all different styles 25 years from hatha, asthanga, iyengar, sivananda, kundalini, bikram, vinyasa, flow, yin, restorative, hot yoga, just name more. I loved them all, and afterwords created my style based on my backround from gymnastics and dance. It aims to mobilize, strengthen, open, and stretch the body, to make it more flexible but stable, with strong focus on breathing, pranayama – moving and raising the Qi-energy.

I also emphasize on mindfulness, on meditation, on peace and on patient, steady mind. All this aims to a healthy lifestyle, and longevity.

I have to admit, that during pandemia I was thinking to strive for more difficult practice, to raise myself to more technically challenging level, to become stronger and learn all difficult asanas. Yes, I did learn some but I had to accept my many limitations.

I have badly broken left wrist from falling in stairs 30 years ago – difficult to practice hand standing though I love it. I have blocked cervical vertebras and stucked nerves in my neck also from accidents – no head standing. I have weak knees also from bicycle accident. I have advanced arthritis in my hips. I might have stopped practicing yoga few years ago when I had to learn to walk again, but I made a decision to practice more, to daily strengthen my legs, and one day to teach again. I succeeded, I’m endlessly grateful for yoga being healthy and at least a bit strong.

The lesson is: Do not give up practicing! Trust on you! Continue, be persistent and tough but still respect your limits, be good to yourself. Respect your body, connect to your mind and heart.

Yoga is for your health
The International Yoga Day aims to raise awareness around the world, regarding many benefits of this beautiful practice. The theme this year is Yoga for Health – Yoga at Home. As social distancing measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have shut down yoga studios, practitioners have turned to home practice and online yogas.

Yoga went viral, and it will continue after the lockdown, after the pandemic is over, as it offers an easy and cheap access to practice whenever you want, where ever you are. It is lovely thing, but it does not compensate live classes, real contacts and sharing and learning from each others. I would not be here without my teachers, to whom I’m really greatful.

This is why I wanted to try this challenging posture (I have no idea of it’s name!), not to show my ego but to prove to myself: YES I CAN but I do not have to show up more. I want to practice my yoga peacefully, mindfully, and respect my body, mind and soul. This is what I also want to offer to my students, and share my knowledge to people for their best.

Thank you the Universe of yoga, yoga teachers and schools around the world, and our priceless yoga community!

Yoga is for all, just find your style, and be open to try new teachings. Just practice.

NAMASTE! Lets continue practicing together! Happy International Day of Yoga, Summer Solstice and San Juan!

Welcome summer! Welcome freedom & love & peace!

Welcome to practice in Zen Studio!

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