Asana in yoga can be a great antidote to the pressure of reality, performance and comparison in which each of us lives. Your mat can be a place of refuge, where you can come to tune in, slow down and connect with each other.
On the other hand, if you are used to constant tension in your daily life, it can be very easy to put this habit on the mat. I think there is definitely the right time and place to test the limits and give yourself a little impression during practice, but I also think that most of us could use some space to relax, rest and watch, “says yogi Ali Washington.
Here are Washington’s top five reasons why you should slow down while practising asana (where you usually feel like giving yourself an impression).
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1. Your breathing will be easier to control
When you are in class, you probably hear teachers reminding you to pay attention to your breathing about a million times. This is obviously an amazing thing to suggest because it is really the main purpose of the practice of asana (because it helps put you in a state of meditation). However, most of us are so absorbed in doing the asana correctly that our breathing goes to the background.
Allow your mind to relax while breathing in and out for some time, instead of focusing so much on a perfect handstand and experiencing the magic that comes from your breath awareness. Here’s a small hint: it may actually turn out that asana and other postures will become easier when you focus on your breath, not on the position itself.
2. You will free yourself from comparison
I don’t know about you, but when I give myself an impression during my practice, I usually do it because I try to do my asana as well as someone next to me in class, like someone I saw on the Internet or better than I did during my last practice. I have a comparison and competition.
This constant temptation to compete with others and with each other is one of the engines that push our bodies in asanas. If you can stop it with one or two attitudes, your desire for competition and comparing decreases – because you stopped giving it strength. The less you act on the impulse, the weaker the impulse will be.
3. You will see that the world will not collapse
We live under high voltage, high standards set by our lives, where performance is often at the forefront. The simple fact is that you probably have a job, an academic degree you are trying to get, or a group of friends that is/are inherently competitive. Our society teaches us that they are better than us, being the best is not only desirable but sometimes absolutely necessary to succeed.
If you find that you want to perform each of the “advanced” versions of attitudes offered at each yoga class, if it’s always an additional Vinyasa or adding more difficult positions to yourself, you may be convinced that “more is better”.
I am not saying that you should not force yourself in any of the cases mentioned above. The challenge is a rooted part of asana practice and these impulses are very important. However, keep in mind that sometimes too much pursuit of improvement can do more harm than good.
Give yourself a chance to see that the world will continue to rotate, whether you will force yourself or not. It can help you find more joy in your practice and can even help you release pressure also in the real world, after class.
4. Avoid Possible Injuries
Personally, I was a witness when I or others suffered injuries during practice because they decided to ignore our body’s signals, alarming that we are not ready for a given movement and attitude. Inhibition, especially when trying new attitudes or on those days when you don’t feel your 100%, in fact, maybe one of the best ways to prevent injury. It is much better to be safe, check and use the data of possible attitudes and just get it next time, instead of throwing yourself at something that will then hurt yourself.
5. You will create conditions for yourself in which there is a place to rest
Asana practice is an amazing area for cultivating the habits and skills that you want to have in your life outside the mat. When you give yourself space and time to rest, to refrain from giving yourself a sniff while practising asana once in a while, you may find that these qualities appear in your everyday life.
It can help you feel more relaxed, calm in the midst of all the madness that is life. If you find it hard to afford to rest, try to hold back at least one posture every time you practice yoga. You may be surprised by the transformation that will take place!
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