Power Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga classes are beautiful explorations of more physically challenging flows. Vinyasa classes require us to send a great amount of attention and awareness into the physical in order to create and sustain integrity. Within these more vigorous Yoga practices, we should continually guide ourselves back to the intention, grace, and definition of the asana (Yoga pose).
Vigorous Yoga Postures like Warrior 1, Chaturanga, and Upward Facing Dog require substantial mental and physical energy to insure alignment and control are being applied. But we need to be careful that this shift to the physical does not take us into an attitude of “working out” and pull us away from the initial purpose of practicing asanas.
Asanas are often defined as a state of steadiness allowing for reflection, connection, and meditation. Asanas, in any type of Yoga class, are designed to break down blockages in tissues and energy channels, to cleanse organs and vital systems, to strengthen and to develop endurance, and to create a greater state of being grounded – all with the intention to open the mind to new levels of peaceful observance.
So when we practice Power Yoga and Ashtanga classes, maybe allow some questions or observations to always be at the surface:
*Is my breath smooth, calming and complete? Or is my breath swallow, restricted, or aggresssive?
*Are the strengthening poses and movements sending unnecessary rigidity into other parts of the body and hence the mind? Am I making more space or less space in the body to breathe with soothing energy?
*Am I observing my Yoga practice just as it is or am I watching myself perform, placing an air of judgment on what I do?
*Am I being true to myself and my limitations? Am I comparing myself to others and letting the practice of others place irrelevant goals into my practice?
*Is this pose/transition taking me to a better place or state of existence IN THIS MOMENT in life? Or am I focusing on an end result based on physical achievements?
There are endless questions that can be observed. These questions themselves are not meant to judge, but instead to bring light to the purpose and definition of asana.
Vinyasa flows can generate a wealth of health benefits, but only when attempted with the correct intentions and awareness. Let’s not become limited in the physical realm. Allow the Yoga practice to go far beyond the physical, and observe with honesty and humility how Vinyasa Yoga is simply a tool to move forward into the grace of overall Yoga.