Feel the Wheel
During the '70s, when I was awakening to the world of yoga, one of my teachers encouraged me to get B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga. That book —full of photos of asanas that were way beyond anything I'd learned —was a revelation. The poses looked cool, and I wanted to do them all —especially the dramatic ones! Surely, this was the stuff of "real" yoga, I thought. Determined, I would put the book beside me as I did my best to imitate the pictures. The results, despite my efforts, were less than solid. Since I was still unaware of proper technique, I overworked and was often injured. Thirty-five years later I see things more clearly: I was getting ahead of myself. Foundation poses were, in fact, invaluable steps that slowly revealed a logical path to more challenging poses. I learned the hard way that a progressive practice is far more intelligent than the hit-or-miss efforts of my early years.
Often, I see students who are, as I was, caught up in a giddy rush to "jump to the back of the book." I encourage them to follow vinyasa krama. The word vinyasa is commonly used to refer to flowing from one pose to another, but the familiar translation doesn't do it justice. Vinyasa means "to place in a special or particular way." Krama means "steps." Practicing vinyasa, according to this definition, is more strategic than just imitating advanced postures you see in a book or magazine. It requires you to slow down and pay attention to the subtle sensations in your body as well as the form.
When you approach the following vinyasa from where you are, you will learn to rely on breath and sensation for guidance. Step by step you will discover that working methodically creates more efficient asana and awakens your soul. Insights will surface from the vast sea of awareness that exists within you, and you will learn not only that there is no express lane, but that the true joy is in the journey.
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