When I started yoga 8 years ago, I fell in love with the physical practice. I came to Yoga as a competitive runner and triathlete who liked to push my body to its limits. Stronger, faster, harder was the only vocabulary for my workouts. If I wasn’t exhausted at the end, it wasn’t “good” enough. So when I entered a power vinyasa class I thought I had found heaven! BUT During the first 2 years of my yoga practice I kept leaving my mat feeling “empty” , like something was missing…..and my body was breaking down from the training of my competitive running….something had to change. Just before I started practicing yoga regularly, I suffered a stress fracture in my sacrum, and then a torn tendon in my ankle that required surgery. These were major events that FORCED me to stop and slow down.
I am wiser now. That “missing” part of my Asana practice were the other Limbs of Yoga…..Specifically Pranayama (breathing practice), and Dhyana (meditation), but also the Yamas( how we treat others, and practice yoga OFF of our mat), the Niyamas (how we treat ourselves- self discipline and spiritual practice), Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), Dharana (focus or concentration), and Samadhi (enlightenment).
I also learned that slower, more gentle yoga can also be “powerful” yoga and that it is kinder to my body physically. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to work “hard”, to attempt more challenging inversions and balance postures, and to feel my muscles shake when holding these challenging postures, but I also love to feel how my body responds when I slow down my breath when I’m in that posture, and how my body can then naturally relax into the posture. I try to find the EASE within the EFFORT.
I teach a “Power Flow” yoga class at Lotus Yoga and Fitness that generally starts with finding power in our breath and connecting it to the body, then a powerful moving vinyasa flow, and then some YIN postures…..yes, YIN! I truly believe that a YIN YOGA practice is very powerful not only physically, but also mentally. Being able to hold a posture for over three minutes, to stay in a place that can be uncomfortable, to have to rely on the breath to relax, and to have to keep the mind quiet is very difficult and very powerful.
Gentle yoga is part of my weekly practice now. I feel better, my body has less injuries, I recover faster from my workouts in the gym or from running and biking. My yoga practice is where I connect back to my body and my breath. I feel at “HOME” on my mat, centered, and healed.
This quiet place I find within myself on my mat is my Power Yoga.