Terre Pruitt's Blog

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

  • I teach Nia, yoga and stretch!

    Nia: Thurs at 9 am

    Yin Yoga: Mons at 11:30 am

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

    Stretch: Thurs at 10:30 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 ‘More To Yoga Than Just Asana’

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.

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, Nia Technique, SJ City Fit, SJCityFitThe books I used to help me put it in perspective and allow me to understand it in a way to actually apply it are B.K.S. Iyengar’s The Path To Holistic Health, T.K.V. Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga and B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light On Pranayama.

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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The Difference Between Yoga And Stretch

Posted by terrepruitt on September 9, 2016

Currently I am lucky enough to teach yoga classes and a stretch class.  And I say “lucky” because I was asked to do these classes but they can be cancelled at any time.  Class attendance needs to stay up or the classes can get cancelled.  This is the case with pretty much any type of exercise class at any type of place . . . a gym, a club, a parks and recs department, etc.  Ok, but where I am actually going with this post is: people ask me all the time what the difference is between yoga and stretch.  Well, my first thought is my post “More To Yoga Than Just Asana,” but that would only help to explain what yoga is and not what we do in a stretch class.  Because I teach gentle yoga classes people are curious about the difference.  It makes sense since they seem the same, but there are differences.  In addition to breathing yoga is different from stretch by a few points.

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, SJCityFitIn regards to the way I do my gentle yoga and my stretch classes here are some of the differences:

In yoga we work on more than just flexibility, we also work on balance and strength.  In stretch we focus mainly on STRETCHING muscles and, to a lesser extent, connective tissue.  We are not working either in a stabilizing or strengthening capacity.

The poses in yoga have names, at least two, the English name and a Sanskrit name.  In stretch my instruction is usually something like, “move your arm here or there” as I show them how to get into the stretch.  Sometimes I do refer to an asana by name that is similar because many of the students do take yoga also, so they know what to do when I say the name of a pose.

Some people “can’t do” yoga, but they CAN stretch.  🙂  Seriously, invite someone to a yoga class and they will say, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough.”  Invite them to a stretch class and they say, “Oh!  I need to stretch.”

With yoga, people seem to want to “get” somewhere.  They want to be able to “do” a specific pose.  With stretching, even though they might be able to bend deeper or more fully as time goes on, there doesn’t seem to be the urge or need to “get there”.  With stretch the journey seems more important than the destination.  Although it really is supposed to be the same way for yoga.

Another question I am always asked is, “Are you on the floor the whole hour?”  No, but we don’t go up and down as much as in my gentle yoga classes.  In both my gentle yoga classes and my stretch classes we do poses/stretches standing up and on the floor.

Stretching is so good for you.  We all should be doing it, even if we don’t weight train or run marathons, it is really good to stretch the muscles.  But many of us need a class, something we are committed to doing in order to actually take the time to stretch.  I am happy to help in that area and teach a class.

Do you stretch?

Posted in Yoga/PiYo/Pilates | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Yoga’s First Two Limbs

Posted by terrepruitt on January 25, 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, SJCityFitIn my post earlier this month about there being More To Yoga Than Just Asana, I listed the eight limbs of yoga.  Two of those limbs, the first two limbs have five principles or observances associated with them.  The first limb is the yamas and they, as I mentioned in the other post, are sometimes thought of as restrictions.  The second limb, the niyamas, are sometimes thought of as rules.  But to me rules and restrictions are somewhat the same things.  Many rules seem to be made to restrict people from doing things.  So I am not sure that is a clear enough distinction for me.  Yoga is so ancient and many of the text have been lost, so there are many translations to things.  Another way of looking at the first two limbs: are the yamas are our attitudes toward our environment and the niyamas are our attitudes towards ourselves.  That is from T.K.V. Desikachar’s translation of the Yoga Sutra in The Heart of Yoga.

The five yamas are:

Ahimsa – non-violence, non-harming
Satya – truthfulness
Asteya – non-stealing
Brahmacharya – celibacy, chastity
Aparigraha – non-possessiveness, non-coveting, non-hoarding, non-clinging

The five niyamas are:

Sauca – purity, cleanliness
Santosha – contentment
Tapas – discipline
Svadhyaya – study of self
Ishvara Pranidhana – surrender to the Divine

These rules, restrictions, attitudes, whatever you choose to think of them as, are meant to be applied to our thoughts, our words, and our actions.  So, I am not really even sure there needs to be a distinction between whether it is a rule or a restriction.  But I do like the idea that one is related to an attitude towards our environment and one is related to an attitude towards oneself.  Although, I think all ten can be related to both.  Sigh.  I guess I will just stick to there really doesn’t need to be a distinction.

Each of these can be talked about in detail.  I am definitely going to be writing more posts on these.  Whether it is one post for all the yamas and one post for the niyamas, is yet to be seen, but I do want to share some of the ideas that were shared with me regarding them.  I would like to shed some light on how they can be applied to life both on and off the yoga mat.

Do you want to share any ideas about them?

 

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