“Extending Yoga Practice Beyond the Studio!” Guest Expert Radhika Vachani Shares Tips!
It’s not easy to do yoga. It might look easy at times, but it’s more than just exercise. It can shift your body, your mind, and your life. You just have to give it a bit of a nudge in the right places. Yoga expert and today’s guest expert, Radhika Vachani provides tips and shares her experience plus her new book, Just Breathe.
This book will provide illumination you might not thought of. And this guest expert post is a starting point.
Extending Yoga Practice Beyond the Walls of the Studio: 4 Categories of asanas to bring your practice along with you anywhere
By Radhika Vachani
Excerpt from Just Breathe: The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness
During my practice, I learned the tremendous benefits that yoga asana can bring to the mind, body, and spirit, and that finding beauty and centeredness, in even the simplest of postures, allows us to just be, and enables our spiritual growth.
No matter which type of yoga we practice, the key lies in the ability to go deeper.
For example, when we learn that the simple movement of a toe can shift the body’s entire alignment into perfection, where energy flows and exuberance sets in, fresh understanding arises. In other words, we begin to see that with a simple shift of perspective, we can release mental chaos, stress and hurt, and move towards a more harmonious state of being.
This was a fundamental concept in my awakening because I realized that while I could not change the situation or the people in my life, I could certainly change how I felt and also gain fresh perspective with which to approach the various circumstances of my life.
I understood that to feel balanced, I first needed to relax my mind; only then could I move towards disciplining it into a more focused and steady state. This became my pursuit. I learned how to ground myself physically through the alignment and engagement of my muscles and joints, creating a strong foundation for my physical practice. The more grounded I felt, the easier it became to explore my breath through each posture, and stabilize my mind and emotions through a single-pointed focus. Soon, I began to experience a place where my mind, body, and breath integrated into one; I was no longer the mind or the body, it was all one. I was, in fact, experiencing my consciousness. From here came wonderful clarity and exuberance, and a state of complete lightness and well-being.
So, I started formulating a path that felt more wholesome to me—a path that belonged solely to me. I continued with my asana practice daily and with diligence, because it made me feel energized, happy, focused and clear. It kept my body open, my energy flowing, and I continued to develop my self-awareness. Nothing in my day would deter me from my practice. Everything else in my life became just the icing on the cake. I had come out of such a conflicting situation that the only thing that mattered to me was how I felt mentally, emotionally and physically. The parallels between my physical life and practice became more and more evident to me, and this supported my personal transformation immensely.
These four categories of asanas can help you take your yoga practice off of the mat, and into your daily life:
1. Standing Asanas
Standing asanas are about gross movement, as they involve the big muscles of the body. At first, we may find that we have very little awareness of the physical body. But the more we practice, the more alert and aware we become of our bodies, moving into a more conscious way of being. The standing asanas enable us to ground ourselves to the earth and feel stronger (and you’ll learn the basic moves in Chapter Six).
Similarly, in physical life, many people spend their lives involved in the daily business of survival, in unconscious movement. We try to change and manipulate circumstances, pushing and pulling, moving against the flow of life. So much of our lives are spent in conflict, resisting what is. As we experience life, we mature, and the awareness that life is just a bag full of ups and downs begins to dawn, leading to a change in the perspectives with which we live our lives.
The standing asanas strengthen the energy center known as the root chakra (muladhara), which grounds us in the physical world.
2. Forward Bending Asanas
The forward-bending asanas are about humility and surrender. Physically, the forward-bending asanas develop the core muscles in the abdominal and back region. Unconscious and gross muscular movement in the standing asanas turns to conscious movement with the awakening of the core. Similarly, as we mature and develop greater awareness, we realize that life is not fully in our control and that we live in a physical environment that is challenging, impermanent and uncertain. Thus, there is no point in resisting what is. With humility and surrender, we begin the journey inwards, towards the strengthening of our inner core and the inner Self, so that we may live our lives skillfully and with fullness despite the inherent nature of the physical world.
The forward-bending asanas work on both the root and the navel (manipura) chakra, which hold a lot of our fears, doubts, and negativities, helping us release these disturbing energies.
3. Back-bending Asanas
Back-bending asanas further develop our core muscles and strengthen the spine, the central axis of the human body. Furthermore, the muscles involved in deep breathing are also further developed.
Back-bending asanas build confidence and our ability to embrace the diversity of life. Once we accept life for what it is, we must develop the resilience, skill, and confidence with which to face the gamut of life’s experiences. The more physically grounded we are, the easier it is for us to work with the breath to relax and focus the mind. And when we do, we access our intellect, a higher intelligence where creativity and wisdom reign.
Resistance leads to unhappiness and anxiety. Acceptance leads to non-misery. Acceptance enables our mind to become calm and relaxed, be non-judgmental, gain fresh perspectives and work with the parameters we are faced with.
The back-bending asanas further release the negativities held in the navel (manipura) chakra, open the heart (anahata) chakra so that we may embrace life, and strengthen our throat (vishuddhi) chakra, our center of communication. We learn how to respond versus react to life with the stimulation of these energy centers.
Once the core muscles of the body are fully developed, we experience a stronger and more balanced body. With inversions, we learn to hold the posture with ease, in spite of being against gravity. By the same token, when the inner core is developed and strengthened, life can turn us upside down, but we remain still and centered, undisturbed by the instability around us, firmly rooted in ourselves.
Through this understanding, we can begin to extend our physical practice of asana beyond the walls of the studio and into daily life.
Bio of Radhika Vachani:
RADHIKA VACHANI is the author of Just Breathe: The Most Powerful Tool for Personal Transformation and Happiness. She is also a motivational speaker, yoga and holistic wellness expert, and the Founder of Yogacara Healing Arts in Mumbai, India (www.yogacara.in). Radhika also runs life-transforming retreats all over the world, in the Himalayas, Ladakh and at her Retreat Center outside of Mumbai in Alibaug.
The book Just Breathe can be purchased at major book sellers and Amazon.com
Follow Radhika Vachani on these social platforms
I would like to express our deepest gratitude for Radhika Vachani’s guest expert post for today. This is a book that you can read over and over and you will find new insights for yourself and your life!!
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