Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ashtanga Yoga Closing Sequence

I watch myself on those days in practice when I'm kind of looking forward to the end of practice. Maybe I'm feeling tired or maybe my attention is being pulled away from practice by plans for later in the day. These are the days that I catch myself rushing through the closing sequence of postures. It takes some effort to wrestle my attention back to the mat and resume a steady breath.

Ashtanga yoga sometimes gets described as a "yang" practice (as opposed to "yin" yoga). This is probably as a result of the continuous movement and shorter holds in poses compared to some other yoga styles. This is not a complete picture of Ashtanga yoga though. There is a place for longer holds in "restorative" postures in the Ashtanga practice no matter which sequence is being practiced. That place is in the closing sequence of postures (backbends, shoulder stand, headstand, lotus finishing postures).

In my own practice, I try to match the intensity of the overall practice with the energy and time I put into the closing poses. As my practice gets more intense and I work deeper into the body, these postures have been very important for restoring equilibrium and balance both physically and mentally before laying down for rest/savasana.

As the year and semester wrap up and time for practice is sometimes limited, I will keep trying to pay attention and catch myself when I'm rushing towards the end of practice finish line and instead take the time to breath where I am.

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