The Dance of Yoga
“We have become so dependent on the form of a yoga pose that we have forgotten how to feel a pose from within. While it is necessary to learn correct alignment trying to “copy” an exact shape of a yoga pose is unrealistic. After all we are all uniquely different in our bodies shape, height, weight, flexibility and strength. For some a yoga practice has become all about getting to the next challenging pose or being able to achieve the physical form while feeling it from the inside is secondary and sometimes there is no connection made to the internal sense of the pose at all.
In our modern form of yoga we are loosing this point of the practice. Being caught up with how the body should look, moving to advanced postures and what you think you should be doing on a yoga mat actually brings you further from your centre and closer to your inhibitions.
Let me put it to you like this. When you look at a ballet dancer she is beautiful in her movement, her poise is perfection, the lines and shapes she creates are a pure form of art. The dancer has been trained so well and with such determination to hold exact shapes, to move beyond any normal physical limitation and to constantly achieve perfection in balletic technique.
While this to the onlooker can look as such freedom in movement for the dancer it is emotionally restricting. Most ballet dancers, whilst maintaining their elegance off stage, there is often a tightness or strictness in their manner. Their presence is far from the free, beautiful Giselle they portray when performing. The ballerina has been practicing her art for so long and with so much control her off-stage posture reflects this constraint, lacking ease and freedom in her personality.
In comparison, look at a contemporary dancer, salsa dancer or street dancer. You instantly connect to the freedom and fun in their movement. Their bodies are so much more relaxed and secure. Yet they too have learned technique and alignment. They have moved beyond that form to find their own expression and that is the beauty in their body and the expression in their dance. If you meet one of these free form dancers off their stage their personality often reflects the freedom they have found in their movement. They tend to be very down to earth, open minded and very real.
Like the ballet dancer if you are constantly trying to reach perfection in any pose you immediately create inner limitations. When we focus too much on alignment and getting a posture correct we are not in union with our true self because we are in our head. When we are in our head we loose out on experiencing the fullness of a moment and the true depth, meaning and feeling of the pose. You loose the connection to your heart and instead of being free of your ego you feed your ego.
It is important to learn alignment and shapes of a posture but there comes a time when it is time to move out of an idea of what a yoga practice “should” be like and instead move from within to find true expression. There comes a time that it is important to connect to your inner self and feel what your body really needs for you, in that moment of time.
Learn how to move your body in a safe way but also learn how to play around with that. Too much form will make you the ballet dancer of yoga. Too much strictness in your practice will actually do the opposite to what yoga is supposed to do. Yoga will bring you in union with who you are not with what you are “supposed” to be, but only if you practice it in harmony with your own needs.
When you move from within you are in your heart. When you are in your heart you are fully present. When you are fully present you are in Yoga. Being able to pay attention to what’s going on inside and being able to express that through your body and through asana is Yoga. This way of practicing yoga will have a much more profound effect on your entire being. It will help you to release blockages and restraints. Then you will find liberation in your body and mind. Most importantly you will do this in your own truth, not in the truth of others.
p.s. Would love to hear your comments. What kind of yoga do you practice, the ballet of yoga or the contemporary dance form? If so, how do you benefit or not, from this?