Welcome to the “This Week in Yoga” Series.
I know, the title of today’s piece is “Last Week in Yoga,” but the idea has come a week into our first series, so, better late than never!
The concept we worked with last week is the idea that two seemingly disparate things, or, sensations, emotions, and thoughts, can co-exist. For instance, if one of your most physically challenging yoga poses is Revolved Triangle (parivrtta trikonasana) or Crow (bakasana), you might consider inviting a sense of ease into the pose by unclenching your jaw, or directing your gaze downward, lengthening the cervical spine.
Try it out (follow the links above for direction): once you’re in each of the postures, first, clench your jaw on purpose then let go; second, tip your face toward the front wall, ceiling or sky, then angle your nose toward the ground. Notice there is space between the upper and lower teeth, and space between the back of the head and back of the neck; tension is released, and ease is uncovered.
Now that you’ve created all kinds of space, notice how empowering it is to feel the strength throughout the length of your back leg, your side abdominals and back muscles, and your supporting and extending arms in revolved triangle, as well as your “everything else(!)” in crow pose.
The intention of practicing Both/And is to embrace the fact that ease exists alongside intensity. Our yoga practice doesn’t have to be “all intensity” or “all ease,” “all strength and high energy” or “all rest and relaxation.” This Both/And practice allows us to circumvent an experience of Either/Or: either complete boredom and atrophy, or, overwhelming strain and exhaustion in our mat-based (sometimes vinyasa) yoga practice. Instead, we get to experience our own power, the power to notice and acknowledge all that is present in the moment, which is no small accomplishment.
Keep in mind, our power is also a piece of this Both/And journey, for power is not strength alone, but a combination of strength and grace, and maybe even courage.
The Catholic Yogi