“ A practice of strength and flexibility in the body seems to translate to a stronger grasp on strength and flexibility of the mind. When you can get back up and try a Crow Pose again after a fumble, in what other areas of your life can you fall flat on your face and laugh about it?” - Clara Hayes
While the Yoga Sutras teach us that asana (physical yoga postures) is just a small fraction of what makes up the yoga practice, I deeply believe asana acts as a gateway to so much more. Finding a challenge in your physical yoga practice, whether that’s in a handstand or Savasana, can not only strengthen your body, but strengthen your mind. This fall, I’ll be bringing the Advance Your Flow series to Soul Strong Yoga on Sundays, September 8th-29th from 3-5PM. Together, we’ll safely venture into fun, tricky, and exciting postures.
Upon planning out this series, I took some time to jot down the biggest lessons the journey into advanced asana has taught me. Pattabhi Jois used to say to his students “Practice and all is coming.” It is so true. With this practice, not only does access to more and more physical asana continue to arrive, but mental strength seems to deepen and stay in larger and longer waves. The following list consists of my top 3 favorite benefits of practicing advanced asana. Take a read and then join me for the upcoming series by signing up HERE!
When I speak of courage, I’m talking about mustering up the bravery to just TRY what may seem frightening. Courage is that first step (or maybe leap) into the unknown. In advanced asana, sometimes it’s attempting a handstand without fully knowing the outcome. It’s trusting your body, trusting yourself, just long enough to try. When you can make it through that initial obstacle of self-talk, doubt and reasons not to try, you may just find yourself with the courage to try what scares you in other areas of life! Where else in your life can you acknowledge your fear but keep going?
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Say you’ve mustered up the courage to try a new pose only to fall flat on your face? It’s happened to all of us. Resilience is the ability to try and try again, not letting experiences of the past dictate your present state. A practice of strength and flexibility in the body seems to translate to a stronger grasp on strength and flexibility of the mind. When you can get back up and try a Crow Pose again after a fumble, in what other areas of your life can you fall flat on your face and laugh about it?
I’d say concentration is one of the biggest gifts of advanced asana. The yogic part of a handstand isn’t necessarily the posture, but the fact that the posture forces you to be present, to focus deeply through great mental chatter. In order to maintain any advanced asana without a tumble, you’ll be required to focus your breath, your gaze and your mind. There isn’t space to think about your to-do list or daily stresses. All that matters for that moment is staying in the moment. How beautiful is that? This deep concentration and single-pointed focus may just begin to trickle over into your meditation practice and daily life.
I truly hope you’ll join me on this journey into advanced asana. The entire series is $100. Can’t make it to all four sessions? You can now sign up for individual sessions at $35 each. Check out the individual workshop session descriptions below!
Learn to access the depth of your core strength throughout your vinyasa practice to find more opportunities for advanced asana! We’ll begin to incorporate concepts like hollow body holds, hip strengthening and mobility, and the bandhas to find sustainable alignment throughout and build strength for the vinyasa practice. Then, learn how to take this new-found strength into your advanced asana practice! Sign up HERE.
Perfect your chaturanga arms (and push ups!) to support your body through a myriad of fun arm balancing transitions! Learn different techniques for hopping and floating to the top of the mat. Begin to incorporate opportunities to float and fly throughout your flow (flying lizard, firefly transitions and more!) finding a smooth dance between common postures and advanced poses. Sign up HERE.
We’ll be focusing on leveling up our balance to find new twists and turns while standing on one leg. Begin to find a deeper backbend in heart-opening standing postures, utilize hip and glute strength for strength and mobility, and begin to float from standing postures through arm balances. Our practice will be both grounding and invigorating. Sign up HERE.
We'll begin with a heart-opening practice and then break down some of the most exciting, yet accessible, backbends! From there, we'll use this newly open chest to access a different set of inversions and arm balances, with the assistance of props. We'll round out our series with a bit of active recovery and restorative practice to calm the nervous system. Sign up HERE.