Fear not the one who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. Fear the one who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. ~Bruce Lee
Last week, during my morning Ashtanga Practice I had an ah-ha moment. I am slowly getting into the habit of doing Ashtanga at least three times a week. So far I’ve completed the standing part of the sequence and almost done with the seated part. My goal was to complete the full Primary Series. When I went to my class I was eager to learn the next pose in my sequence as this would make me one step closer to finishing the seated sequence – eventually the series. I looked at my instructor with excited eyes and asked in my usual high pitched singing voice, can you assist me with the next pose?
My instructor in a calm manner said “next time” and smiled. I said “ok,” smiled back, closed the sequence I knew and left class for the day. Something clicked here. On my train ride to work, I asked myself 3 things:
I have been practicing yoga for 3 years now. I absolutely love being on the mat and looking inwards. Recently, I started practicing Ashtanga Yoga. I was truly inspired by the dedication and discipline of Ashtanga. I naturally gravitated towards the structure of each series. So I began my journey through the Primary Series. Here is what I learned:
1. Practice, practice, practice: The obvious one. It must be done at least 3 times a week. With practice comes improvement – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Practice is key!
2. Perseverance: Ashtanga Yoga requires a lot of patience. I expected to go into class and learn crazy handstands and lifts. I had a “superficial” view of Yoga. Don’t get me wrong, handstands are amazing and takes time to learn. However, Yoga isn’t just about handstands. Its a deeper and a personal journey.
I started making planks part of my daily routine. It is a great strength builder – not only physically, but also mentally. When I get in a plank my mind becomes focused and calm, thus cultivating strength and control to my body. Here are some benefits/reasons why you should do a plank a day 🙂
1. Accessible and Convenient: You can do planks anywhere and anytime. All you need is yourself and a mat!
2. Strength: Planks are perfect to gain strength in the core, arms, shoulders and back, but did you know planks are also great for the lower body? Including lower back, buttocks, legs and ankles. This is a pose that works out and brings strength to the entire body.
This is one of the toughest poses for me. It requires a great deal of strength and energy. I’m talking about Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose), a key foundational pose in yoga. Practicing Chaturanga will develop the strength needed for intermediate to advance arm balances and inversions.
Getting into Chaturanga Dandasana – Four Limbed Staff Pose
1. Start from plank (Shoulders aligned with wrists, tailbone tucked in and abs engaged).
2. Spread your fingers with equal distance in-between (press into the mat with the inner knuckle mounds of your hands).
Sitting in silence,
all alone in the stillness,
my very existence!
This week’s pose is Ardha Chandrasana (ard-hah chahn-drahs-anna) – Half Moon Pose. This is a great pose to work the deep layers of the muscles on your legs, build a strong core and stay balanced. I love balancing poses; they require a great deal of concentration, truly allowing you to be present.
Getting into Ardha Chandrasana – Half moon pose
1. Stand in Tadasana (firmly rooting your feet into the ground).
2. Take a wide stance with your feet. (If you extend your arms to the side, your feet should align with your hands).
One of my favorite poses in yoga is Virabhadrasana II (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-ana) – Warrior II. This is a classic yoga pose that brings out the fierce warrior. The reasons I love this pose is because it keeps me strongly rooted and my aim sharp. From this same strength it allows me to open my heart.
Getting into Virabhadrasana II – Warrior II
1. Take a wide stance with your legs (wide enough so that when you stretch your arms to the side, your feet should align with your hands)
2. Keep your arms stretched out and bring a 90 degree bend to your right leg (thigh parallel to the floor, toes of the right facing straight ahead)