Though most yogis would agree that yoga is about more than stretching and strengthening, it's easy to get caught up in the physical forms of poses. In this practice by Shiva Rea, devote time to observing the emotions that arise as you move.
Rea, the renowned creator of Prana Flow Yoga, designed the sequence beginning on the next page to link asanas with particular feelings or states of being, known as bhavas. Rea believes that every pose elicits certain bhavas and that by becoming aware of the feelings that arise during your asana practice, you can create a strong connection with your deepest intentions.
To that end, Rea combines each asana with intentions to invoke through your practice. In Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose), for example, Rea suggests the affirmation "I am awakening ___." After assuming the shape of Vajrasana, say, "I am awakening" aloud and see what comes to mind. Perhaps you are awakening courage, or awakening to new possibilities in your life. Complete each affirmation as you go, seeing what comes up as you assume the shape of the pose. Alternatively, you can choose one intention, such as hope, humility, or strength, and use that as the focus of your entire practice.
Don't underestimate the power of these affirmations. "Listening to the heart can lead to personal changes, which in turn can lead to changes on the planet," says Rea. Return to this practice and, over time, notice how your physical yoga practice becomes infused with your deepest feelings and intentions.
Before You Begin
Salute. Practice 3 to 5 rounds of your favorite Sun Salutation.
After You Finish
Fold and Open. Rest in several hip-opening forward bends such as Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend) or the forward-folding variation of Eka Pada Raja-kapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose) to continue cultivating a quiet stillness.
Go Upside Down. Practice Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) or Sirsasana (Headstand) to nourish your body after this invigorating sequence.