Terre Pruitt's Blog

In the realm of health, wellness, fitness, and the like, or whatever inspires me.

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch! SIX group classes a week!

    Nia: Tues and Thurs at 9 am, Fri at 10:15 am

    Yoga: Tues at 10:30 am and Thurs at 6:00 pm

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:15 am

    Please see my website for details! I sub for the City of San Jose and the YMCA so check my website for dates and times!

    I am also available for private Nia / yoga / Personal Training!

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Posts Tagged ‘asana’

From Secret To Goats

Posted by terrepruitt on May 22, 2017

This is a snapshot of chapter one verse eleven in “An Explanation of Hatha Yoga” or The Hatha Yoga Pradipika.  I believe that this is true.  I believe that it was originally meant for men that wanted to give up everything and JUST practice yoga.  That would be – to me – the only explanation as to how some of the poses described and some of the “states of being” described could be achieved.  That is why yoga used to – and actually still does (some poses or things) – seem so impossible to do.  A lot of the asana are not just things you can pop into when you practice once a week.  Hatha Yoga was also shared with royalty . . . again, what did they have to do, but sit around and work their bodies into these poses that promised longevity and enlightenment?

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Like many things, in order to make it somewhat possible for the average person, it has morphed over the centuries.  It has become – for many, not all – a form of exercise.  Still with many poses that cannot be achieved with a once-a-week practice.  So I always ask my students to practice ahimsa, where they are gentle with themselves and remember that they might not be able to get into the pose and look like the picture in Yoga Journal because they are just practicing once, twice, or even three times a week (or whatever).  They are not devoting their life to it.  So I just remind them to do the best they can today and to enjoy what they are receiving.

This post started out as a Friday Photo even though this photo should have actually gone along with my post Yoga Was Supposed To Be A Secret.  But when I popped over to that post to remind myself about what exactly I wrote, I was reminded of the current trend in yoga that I am hearing about.  Goat yoga.  Have you heard about that?  It is somewhat like doing yoga at a cat cafe or adoption lounge, except with goats.

“Regular” (whichever type is being offered) yoga classes are held in the presence of goats.  And the goats just mill around.  Could be they hop on you or not.  When I looked it up just now two sites came up and it looks as if the places the sites are about do yoga outside.  (One says that is what actually was the motivation for their goat yoga classes.)  But the other stories I had seen were inside.  I saw a story where the yoga was being done in a barn and another one where it was a room because the goats (they were kids) were hopping all over and their hooves were making clickety-clack noises on the floor.  Seems as if there are several different places that it is done.  It is really popular.

I am not sure that I would want to have that be a part of my regular practice, but I might try it once.  I like the idea of cats better as I don’t think they are as heavy and rowdy as goats.  But . . . . I don’t know . . .

What do you think?  What is your take on Hatha Yoga starting off as being a secret?  Would you be interested in doing yoga around a herd of goats?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Withdrawal Of The Senses – WHAT?

Posted by terrepruitt on October 19, 2016

In January I started writing about the Eight Limbs of Yoga with a post called More To Yoga Than Just Asana.  They are 1-The yamas, 2-The niyamas, 3-The asana, 4- Pranayama, 5-Pratyahara, 6-Dharana, 7-Dhyana, and 8-Samadhi.  I finished posting briefly about the niyamas in April.  So it has been six months since I visited any of the limbs on my blog.  I thought I would pick up with the fifth limb – pratyahara and share a what I understand about it.  As I have said before, all the limbs and their smaller branches (like the yamas and the niyamas) can (and do) have volumes written about them.  I am only scratching the surface AND only exposing what I understand them to be at this time.  Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the senses.

That is what I have heard it described as.  I never really understood or agreed with the “withdrawal of the senses”.  The initial “scratch on the surface” was not enough for me to get on board with this limb.  As I looked briefly into the meaning or the idea, I think I understand it a bit more.  Now I can totally relate.

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In The Path To Holistic Health B.K.S. Iyengar said, “When the senses withdraw from objects of desire, the mind is released from the power of the senses, which in turn become passive.  Then the mind turns inward and is set free from the tyranny of the senses.  This is pratyahara.”  Ok, I feel that put me on the path to understanding.  Him saying “withdraw from objects of desire,” made me think, “Ok, we are not just shutting off our senses.”  I made me think that it is more of a form of concentration than a form of torture.

Then in The Heart of Yoga, I understand T.K.V. Desikachar’s to be saying that we might sense things but we ignore them, but we don’t really do it necessarily as a conscious practice, but because we are in the moment.  We are attuned to what we are doing.  We are focused. To me his explanation made a lot of sense because he was saying that our senses are not entirely withdrawn and shut off . . . we are just focused.  As an example, in an asana practice we are going to be aware of our body and sensing where our arms are in relation to our hips, but we are not going to be thinking about how we need to apply lotion to our arms or how our hips sway when we do the latest dance move.  While lotion and dance moves might not be examples of “objects of desire” they are examples of thoughts that distract us from the asana practice.

It also sounded to me like T.K.V. Desikachar was saying that we can – and more than likely have experienced Pratyahara before.  It could be when we are so focused on something we don’t realize what is going on around us.  Perhaps on the phone and not noticing someone is trying to get our attention.  Perhaps we turn everything out when focused on a task such as cooking, knitting, sewing, writing, drawing, etc.  Where the senses are withdrawn because the focus and concentration is so intense.  This goes along with T.K.V. Desikachar saying that pratyahara comes naturally.

I’m thinking that not having it be a conscious practice might depend on what you are doing.  I could be at first we might have to really focus on concentrating, but eventually it will just become a part of our practice.  I think the more we practice the better we can achieve pratyahara.  Light on Pranayama described pratyahara as quieting the mind saying that pranayama and pratyahara help with that.  I know that when I focus on my breathing it helps quiet the mind and I feel more focused.

So now that I feel that pratyachara is not just withdrawal of the senses to all that is around you, I feel that I could actually be practicing and doing this limb of yoga.  At this point it helps when I am in a class or following a yoga application and not just doing yoga on my own.  We all know how distracted I get when I do that.

How about you?  How well do you practice pratyahara when doing yoga?  Can you think of a time when you have experienced pratyahara when not doing yoga?

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Twists And Ten Benefits

Posted by terrepruitt on August 17, 2016

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitTwists.  We do twists in Nia, we do twists in yoga, we do twists in stretching, we do twists in life.  Twists are good.  Twists stimulate adrenal glands, and since they make necessary hormones, it is nice to have them stimulated in a positive way.  Twists can also stimulate the kidneys.  Twists are thought to improve digestion, could be due to the massaging of the organs.  When the body twists around the organs move and press against each other.  All the movement in the digestive tract is said to help move food along.  Twists are said to “tone” the organs.  Practicing twists is good!

I always teach to lengthen before moving, especially in a twist, so we want to lengthen on the inhale and twist on the exhale.  Sometimes inhaling/lengthening and exhaling/twisting bit further.  When we lengthen we allow for the space in between each vertebrae to get bigger and that allows for more room for the bones to move.

Twists help with flexibility in the back, the spine mobility and the muscles of the back.  The old “move-it-or-lose-it” that so often applies.  When we include twists in our practice we help to ensure that we will be able to do all the everyday things that include twisting.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitWhile doing a seated twist, try to keep both sitz bones connected to the earth.  The twist comes from the upper spine.  One reason we anchor the ischial tuberosity (sitz bones), is to stabilize the lower back.  When we work to keep ourselves firmly rooted it helps keep the lower spine from twisting.  I’m sure many of us have done it or have had a friend who has done it.  You hear that statement, “I twisted, and hurt my lower back.”  That is because the lower back tends to have more mobility and without moving mindfully it is easy to over do it.  So we keep our sitz bones anchored.

Seated twists can be done “open” or “closed”.  An “open” seated twist is where you are twisting away from the bent leg, in some cases putting your arm or shoulder against the bent leg.  In a sense allowing your chest to open away from your body.  A “closed” seated twist is where you turn TOWARD the bent leg, in some cases drawing the knee towards the chest.  If you have a leg bent in a seated twist it usually allows for a stretch into the hip area.

In B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga The Path To Holistic Health, he says, “Twists – These asanas teach us the importance of a healthy spine and inner body.  In twists, the pelvic and abdominal organs are squeezed and flushed with blood.  They improve the suppleness of the diaphragm, and relieve spinal, hip, and groin disorders.  The spine also becomes more supple and this improves the flow of blood to the spinal nerves and increases energy levels.”

So twists are good, in summary they:

1)  stimulate the adrenal glands
2)  stimulate the kidneys
3)  improve digestion
4)  massage the organs
5)  allow space in between each vertebrae
6)  help with flexibility in the spine
7)  help with flexibility in muscles of the back
8)  help to ensure that we will be able to keep twisting
9)  increase energy levels
10) feel pretty good

How do you feel about twists?  Do you include them in your practice?

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Socks Could Help You With The Pose

Posted by terrepruitt on May 23, 2016

I have written and posted about shavasana (savasana) before.  This asana can be used to start a class or be done anywhere in the sequence that you see fit to use it.  It is used in many yoga classes as the final pose.  I think of it as a Challenging Easy Pose.  It is a challenge because many of us have busy lives and things to do all the time.  Many of us have a lot to think about.  Many of us are challenged with quieting the mind.  Not necessarily having no thoughts because I am not sure that is even possible, but not having a lot of chatter in the mind.  Having focused thoughts.  The thoughts focusing on breath, body, and the practice just experienced.  Some people are further challenged with just being still.  So in addition to the busy, moving mind, there is the busy, moving body.  For some just relaxing and not fidgeting is a challenge.  I find that being comfortable really helps.  When doing shavasana as the final pose, I instruct my students to put on their jackets, if they want.  I encourage them bring blankets.  I almost plead with them to bring sock, nice, comfy, fluffy socks — and use them during shavasana.

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Also air moving around your more than 7000 nerve endings (in each foot) might distract you.  With many yoga classes there are some standing poses, so you’ve activated the nerves in the feet.  Perhaps sensitized the feet during the class.  So nice socks could help keep the distraction to a minimum. COMFY socks might help bring some calm back to those nerves.  So if possible use warm and comfortable socks.  Not dress socks, because those do not help with warmth.

I am not sure the ancient yogis would endorse or even agree with such a recommendation, but I think of socks as a prop to help me achieve the purpose of the pose.  If props are used and recommended for other poses why not shavasana.  I do know that some people use bolsters when they are available, so why not use socks?

For me, once I started using socks, my shavasana changed.  I hadn’t even really thought about my feet affecting the pose until one day I decided to put on socks.  The few students of mine that have decided to use socks during their shavasana mentioned how it made a difference.  We all marvel at how it did!

So . . . whether you love shavasana or not . . . whether you are challenged by it or not . . . I suggest trying it with socks on.  See what you think.  Then let me know.

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Yoga Bodies

Posted by terrepruitt on May 2, 2016

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitRecently I attended a yoga class just to observe.  Sometimes just observing is difficult because the desire to get up and participate is often there.  But I thought this class was beyond my level of doing.  I like slow mindful classes.  I am not a fan of the speed of a flow class.  I also know this teacher to be a bit of a tough cookie.  And I have come to the studio AFTER this class – in the past – and the participants are just dripping and wobbly legged, so I had never thought to participate before.  So . . . I thought that observing would be a piece of cake.  There would be no desire to jump to participate.  Now, let me explain this “observing,” it is for me to become a better teacher.  I am not there to judge or criticize the students nor the teacher.  But I am there to gain knowledge.  Observe how one sequences a class.  To observe how assistance is given.  To observe the yoga teacher’s pacing and volume.  To learn by observing.  I have three separate papers for three separate types of notes.  I have POSES, for poses I want to either do myself or bring to my classes.  I have Cues and Things I want to bring to my classes.  And I have just notes that I will refer back to.  While I was doing my best to listen and look without staring at the participants I got a little misty eyed.  My breath caught in my throat and I thought, “Damn!  Bodies are beautiful!”

You probably know I have a tendency to ramble on and on when all I really wanted to tell you is –  if you want to learn yoga stop staring at the Yoga Journal, stop looking at models on websites – GO TO A CLASS TO OBSERVE!!!!!  Look at REAL people DOING yoga.  Look at REAL bodies doing yoga.  Just watch, just observe, don’t judge.  We do this in Nia all the time, we call it witnessing.  We “witness” without judgment.  So just go to a class and witness.  Appreciate what you see.  Notice the strength.  Notice the weakness.  Notice the flexibility.  Notice the stiffness.  Notice the intention.  Notice the determination.  Notice the frustration.  Notice the effort.  Notice the triumphs.  Notice the concentration.  Notice the distraction.  Notice the trying.  Notice it all!

I was struck by it all when I looked up and saw someone in a pose perfectly.  I thought, “Dang.  I will glance back over throughout the class because that is awesome and I want to see more of that.”  Then I looked back a few poses later and I thought the person had moved spots because what I saw was misery.  The person could barely get into the pose.  And the next person was Yoga Journal perfect whereas they couldn’t do the previous pose.  A few of the people I noticed in pose “perfection” in one pose were in the total opposite of perfection in other poses.  The class was full of perfect poses and not perfect poses . . . all at different times by the same and by different people.  And I wanted to jump up and join in!

This was not a beginner class, it was a class of real people doing yoga in real bodies.  Some bodies whose arms are not long enough to hold the foot when the leg is extended.  Some bodies whose hamstrings are too tight or too short to do a straight legged fold.  Some bodies whose bones or bodies get in the way.   Bodies that come to class and do real yoga.

The models in the magazine and on the websites more-than-likely were chosen to do that particular pose because they can.  Their limbs are just the right length to do the poses.  Could also be that the model only did that one pose or was put into that pose whereas in a yoga class there is a sequence and it could be that by the time you get half way through your muscles are tired and so the poses might not be picture perfect.  Yoga is a practice not a photo.

So, while there are correct and more importantly SAFE ways to do the asana try not to get caught up in doing it “perfect” or doing it exactly like someone in a magazine.  Do what you can and keep practicing.  Remember to breath.

Namaste~

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Svadhyaya – The Fourth Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on March 21, 2016

I’m still looking into the Eight Limbs of Yoga (1:  The yamas – restrictions/restraints/ethical principles    2:  The niyamas – rules/observances/spiritual practices    3:  The asana – the poses    4:  Pranayama – breath work    5:  Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses    6:  Dharana – concentration    7:  Dhyana – meditation and    8:  Samadhi – transcendence)  I am working my way down the list posting about a little bit about each limb.  With the first two limbs there are five of each yama and niyama.  I am working my way through them, too.  Well, this post is about the fourth niyama or rule, observance, spiritual practice.  It is svadhyaya – study of self.

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One can study or examine oneself for various reasons.  One way many are probably familiar with is eating . . . you have probably heard the terms “emotional eater”, “stress eater”, “bored eater” and the idea is to stop and think – examine when you eat so you can identify if you are one of these types of eaters.  These labels could be applied to many things . . . drinker . . . fighter . . . .abuser . . . “neglector” . . . cleaner . . . . smoker . . . whatever the situation, the study has to be done first in order for the behavior to be altered.  WHY is it you are doing what you are doing?  What is it that causes you to do what you do?  With that type of knowledge of self then steps can be taken to change.

A lot of our behaviors are habits and sometimes just acknowledging that and applying a little bit of mindfulness we can change the habit.

If you want to think about svadhyaya in relationship to “on the mat”, the actual practice of the third limb of yoga, the asana, then it can be applied in the sense that it is all about you when you are on the mat.  There is no competition between the person on the mat next to you.  Or you having to do something in order to please or impress the teacher.  It is all about you and what is going on with you at that particular mat time.  This is a great time to practice svadhyaya.  It is when you get to stop all the other thinking and think about things like how your foot is connected to the earth.  It is your whole foot or just the edge?  Are you using the muscles necessary to make certain that it is the whole foot.  Are your shoulders down?  Is your chest open?  Is your spine long?  Is your stance too wide?  Can you tweak your arm/leg/head just a little in order to invite in that sense of relaxed control?  Where you are not sinking into your joints hanging out in a pose, but using your muscles but not over using them?  Are you aware of the placement of your knee?  Are you focused on your breath?   If you study how each pose is sensed by your body it allows you to try to determine if you are in the pose correctly and allows you to get the most out of it.

With the study of self there is knowledge gained about self.  With the knowledge of self one can work to improve or enhance oneself.  With enhancement of self, the idea is that one moves closer to the divine.  Many think of the divine as different things.  But most people agree that we all have areas in which we could grow.  Most people agree there is always room for improvement.  It makes sense that we have to look in and examine, practice svadhaya, before we can change.  This is just one way – and a brief one at that – to look at svadhaya.

What do you think?  Do you think of svadhaya on the mat?

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Sauca – The First Niyama

Posted by terrepruitt on March 7, 2016

I teach Nia, you may know that.  You may also know that Nia is a cardio dance exercise.  You can go to class get a workout and not think about it at all.  Or you can take it a little further if you would like and delve into some of the things that Nia likes to do, like connect movement with things in life, practice the 13 Principles of the Nia White Belt in your daily life.  But the 13 Principles of the first level of Nia are things like being Joyful in your movement or doing something in your own time or noticing how your body moves.  Whereas if you are going to practice more than just the physical aspect of yoga you are going to be observing rules and restrictions and practicing breathing techniques and meditating.  So even though I often compare Nia to yoga saying that it is a practice, I don’t think of the Nia practice as rules and restrictions.  With yoga there are the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  I listed them in my post “More To Yoga Than Just Asana“.  I am more familiar with the first four than the last four.  I can say that the first four have more.  As in the first two have five each, the third has hundreds, and I am not even sure how many the fourth has, but I know of at least ten.  The first limb is the yamas.  I have written a brief post on each yama.  Now I am going to skim the surface of the niyamas.

As I mentioned, there are five niyamas.  Some call them rules, some call them observances, some call them spiritual practices.  The first of the niyamas is Sauca . . . . as with many of the Sanskrit words you will probably see it spelled different ways.  While it might be spelled different, it is pretty much agreed upon that this niyama is about cleanliness, purity.

The Heart of Yoga says “Cleanliness, or keeping our bodies and our surroundings clean and neat.”

Recently I had the opportunity to examine this niyama by being assigned to write about it.  I decided to take the points that were mentioned in the lecture and make a little table.

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I decided I have showering down.  I believe that I do a good job with my general hygiene.  Although, it has come to my attention that some people don’t consider it “good hygiene” if you are not wearing make-up.  For some people wearing make-up is a very big deal and it had been pointed out to me recently – that make-up should be a part of every woman’s beauty regime.  So, I guess SOME people might not agree that I have the “good hygiene” thing down.

Oh, but if one includes, “dapper new clothes” in that “good hygiene”, yeah, I don’t have that down at all.  While my clothes will be clean, they might be really faded and what many people would think of as “time-to-get-rid-of”.  So just as someone who thinks that having make-up on is part of good hygiene, someone who doesn’t wear or tolerate old and faded clothes might think of me as not having good hygiene.

Keeping things clean is always a “needs work” because SOMETHING is ALWAYS dirty.  I mean, even if I spent all my time cleaning there would still be dirty things.  But I think I do ok with the necessary basics.  Our kitchen is clean, our bathrooms are clean (the showers could always use sand-blasting, but basically they are ok), the cats’ litter boxes are clean (that is a never ending “battle”), our house is basically clean . . . but I can’t keep up with the dust.  And, again, that is me saying it is “clean”, but I will not admit to it not being cluttered.

Who cannot swear with all this clutter around?

And cluttered speech . . . that is funny.  At times I am very aware of this and I can keep the clutter out, but sometimes a story is just so much more fun with all the drama (good drama, as in a play or good story) that clutter causes.  The suspense because you added three more sentences that were not necessary, but your audience is on edge.  Sometimes that is just too fun.

Non-judgmental . . . this kinda reminds me of the Yama, Ahimsa.  Being “non-violent” with oneself.  I could work on judging myself less harshly so as not to judge others so harshly.

Regarding the non-violent thoughts, perhaps with the non-judging, I won’t want to slap the person that didn’t obey the traffic law or show any regard to common sense while driving.  Needs work.

Ok, I think I have the littering one down.  I say, I think because I don’t litter.  I don’t throw things away if it is not in a garbage can or recycle bin.  But there might be something someone else considers littering that I do, that I am not aware of.

Not damaging the planet actually made me laugh.  It should be “work to keep your damage to a minimum”.  Because all of our modern convenience damage the planet.  Driving my car, damages the planet, having a cell phone damages the planet, eating food from our food sources damages the planet . . . . so I try to be good about it.  I take care not to waste water or electricity or even “THINGS”.  I am not a big throw-it-out-and-get-a new-one person . . . . hence all my clutter.

Good intentions.  I try, I am sure it could be better.

I work hard not to gossip.  Not easy . . . but it kind of helps when you don’t have the opportunity.

Again, as with all the limbs, I am just barely touching the surface.  These are not all the ways of sauca, but I think the list/examples we were giving was a good representation.  I am sure there are other ways it can be looked at, but in light of this, what do you think?

 

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Yoga Was Supposed To Be A Secret

Posted by terrepruitt on February 15, 2016

I recently heard that yoga wasn’t meant to be done by the masses.  It was originally supposed to be for a specific type of person.  It was basically supposed to be a secret because not everyone is ready.  Not everyone can do what needs to be done to do yoga.  The eight limbs containing the yamas and the niyams, the Nadis, the bandhas, the Vayus all of the stuff that takes a huge amount of time to learn and perfect.  Having to practice and perfect all of that with the ultimate goal of achieving ascension into the divine or merging with the divine.  It really is for people who can and want to devote their whole life to it.  Just like an athlete wanting to go to the Olympics, they pretty much give up everything to practice, practice, practice, and perfect.  Yogis, just like that.  Giving it all up so that they can devote their life to doing yoga.  That really is the only way anyone could do all of it.

If the translations are accurate with all that one has to do and give up in order to “do” yoga perfectly, you really have to be removed from the things of the world.  In order to cleanse and purify in the way that is referred to in the text one would have to live on a mountain top.  That is why it was supposed to be a secret.  That is why it was not considered something anyone could do without living apart from the modern world (perhaps the Western World).

Once I heard that it made a lot more sense to me.  I felt relieved.  I thought, “Oh, THAT explains a lot.”  That explains why, a long time ago, I remember yoga being associated with people far away on high mountain tops.  That explains why it always seemed to unattainable.  That is why, when I was young it was this super-duper strict/restrictive practice that really didn’t appeal to me.  That is why some of the poses that seem outrageous really are.  They are not meant to be done by a person who has a yoga practice several times a week.  They are truly meant to be done by someone who spends ALL their time doing yoga — and by yoga, I don’t mean the asana, I mean ALL eight limbs.  Those pretzel people don’t work 45/50 hours a week and then just show up to their mat and bend like that.  They are the deep practitioners that do YOGA.

I believe that is why the limbs get rewritten to work with the modern life.  I believe that is why there are so many version and variations and modifications and names to one pose.  Things have been adjusted to fit into a life that is not JUST yoga.  There are still many benefits to doing modern yoga.  Many people don’t think of modern yoga as yoga and I think when compared to ancient yoga, I could agree.  I don’t think of a lot of the yoga that happens as yoga.  Things like paddle board yoga and water yoga, not really yoga.  But then again, as I said, the yoga I do, the yoga I teach might not be considered yoga compared to ancient yoga.  So it really depends on what you think yoga is.  It really depends on the what and the why.  What do you want to get out of it?  Why do you want to do it?  When you do it are you getting what you want out of it and is your “why” being handled . . . .then who am I or who is anyone to say it is not yoga.

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I really think our yoga is so far away from the ancient yoga that the people from thousands of years ago would be appalled, but then again, they wouldn’t.  If they were as truly enlighten as the text said they would be if they practiced all eight limbs of yoga, they might just shrug their shoulders and get down on a mat and join us for some hot yoga, Karaoke Yoga, or whatever yoga is happening in the studio that day.

Perhaps yoga is done at different levels.  So the ancient yoga is for people who remove themselves from the modern world and dedicate their lives to nothing by yoga, and then all the other types of yoga are for the rest of us.  From the religious type of Kriya yoga all the way to Karaoke Yoga.

I have in my head some requirement for me to consider something yoga, but really in keeping with the way I’ve been taught about the yamas and the niyamas, I can just let it all be.  I can be happy that there are different “levels”.  The different levels allows it to be accessible for all.

Did you know that yoga was supposed to be a secret?  How do you feel about that?  Ever want to try something like Karaoke Yoga? Trampoline Yoga?

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More To Yoga Than Just Asana

Posted by terrepruitt on January 13, 2016

I have often mentioned how Nia is a cardio dance exercise that you can take to another level and make it a practice, like yoga.  Yoga is an exercise that you can take to another level by practicing some of the other limbs of yoga.  Yoga has eight limbs.  These limbs are things that one can work with throughout a lifetime.  They are not necessarily things that one masters – well, not things that I can master.  There could be days when it feels as if they have been mastered and then days when it feels like you had never even heard of them because the ideas or actions were just not present.  So . . . these things get “practiced”.  The physical, exercise part of yoga is just one of the limbs.  While Nia is not as . . . I’ll say, “preachey” as yoga we do have some things that can be practiced outside of the dance class, off the dance floor.  Things like noticing your movement and being aware of your relationship with others and things.  But yoga’s limbs are more like rules to live by.

The eight limbs of yoga are:

1)  The yamas.  There are five yamas.  They are often compared to restrictions.  Some think of them as restraints or ethical principles.

2)  The niyamas.  There are five niyamas.  They are often compared to rules.  Some think of them as observances or spiritual practices.

3)  The asana.  There are thousands of poses.  This is the physical limb of yoga.  This is the exercise that has become very popular.  Not only are there a lot of poses, there are many different types of yoga.  Some are ancient and some are very new.  Some types have created new poses.  And sometimes I think that the ancient text has been translated so many different ways we end up with different poses.

4)  Pranayama.  There are various types of pranayama.  This is the breath work of yoga.  I have posted about two types of pranayama, Ujjayi Breathing and Equal Breath

5)  Pratyahara.  This is the withdrawal of the senses.  The idea is that when the mind has control over the senses, can withdrawal them, then it can focus on the other limbs of yoga without distraction.

6)  Dharana.  This is concentration.  The idea of concentration of the mind on one thing leads to meditation.

7)  Dhyana.  This is meditation.  The idea is to be able to concentrate on one point.  Being able to breathe to a state of withdrawal of the senses.  Having complete control.  Then concentration is pure.  Meditation is supremely focused and then . . .

8)  Samadhi.  This is transcendence.  When one is in control over mind and body.

Each of these could definitely use a blog post of their own.  Not sure I will get to them all.  But, I will at least do a post on the yamas, a post on the niyamas, and a post on pranayama.  Probably multiple posts on each of them.  So, if you are interested stay tuned.

I had heard about the first two, and knew that poses and breathing were apart of yoga.  But was not and am not so familiar with the last four.  Did you know there were eight limbs to yoga?  Which ones are you familiar with?    

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Practice Makes It Possible

Posted by terrepruitt on December 10, 2015

I’ve been thinking lately about when a student once asked me what exercises to do so that s/he would be able to do yoga.  My reply was to just do the poses.  I explained that doing the pose in the way that s/he could at that moment is the way to “do yoga”.  I got the feeling that this answer was not satisfactory, because the look on her/his face.  Then the following week after class, the student had a little booklet.  This person said that her/his spouse was given the booklet by their doctor and was told to do the exercises.  The question being asked was what exercise could the student do that would enable her/him to do yoga.  I softly sighed and took the booklet and flipped through the pages.  I pointed to the exercise that were pretty much like some of the poses we had just done.  I suggested s/he try them.  I’ve been thinking about this because of two things:  One, yoga is not about DOING a specific pose.  This is very difficult for people to accept.  And, two, I think I will start suggesting one pose that will help with all poses when asked this type of question.

I’ve been thinking about how yoga is not about “doing a pose”.  Doing yoga is so much more.  And I am specifically just talking about the asana here.  In regards to do the asana the way to do them is by doing them.  As we do them, they might get to be more than what it was when we started.  An asana is not like running a marathon.  One needs to plan and prepare for a marathon.  One needs to train to run a marathon.  One needs to build up to being able to run 26 miles.  But even the training for a marathon consists of running.  It consists of DOING the thing it is you are going to be doing.

Warming up the body with easier poses or very highly modified poses before doing the most challenging pose is recommended.  But doing other exercises so that you can do yoga is not necessarily the point of the postures.  Part of the beauty of yoga is that you do what you can when you can and you continue to do it until you can do more.  Then you continue to do what you can do, until you can do more.  You keep practicing until you think you have it perfect, then you do more.  “More” could be matching the perfect pranayama to the pose.  It could be concentrating so well that you can sense “every” muscle required to do that pose.  It could be making your mind quite.  It could be moving ever so slightly while in the “perfection” of that pose to see what it is like when you move a little more forward/back/up/down.  There is always “more” to a pose.

I was really trying to convey this to the student, but that was not the answer s/he wanted to hear.  S/he wanted to know what to do so that s/he could get into the poses and do the poses.  I know there are things in my life I am impatient for and I just want the end result without having to do/wait for it.  But with yoga there really is no end.  It is like life it is the journey.

But regardless, when I get this question again, I might just reply with the most challenging of all poses . . . . corpse pose or shavasana.  I might just suggest that the student try practicing shavasana for three to five minutes.  I think that might actually help.  Once the practice of being still (in the body) and being quiet (in the mind) is achieved or at least better understood, then maybe the answer about doing yoga to do yoga will be understood.

I’ve heard many people say there aren’t flexible enough to do yoga, well, you do yoga to GET flexible.

So, what do you think about doing something in order to do it?

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