Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Good For You, Like Soup

Get your calendar marking pens out (or their smartphone app equivalent)…Saturday February 11th I’m bringing you ARM BALANCES: A ‘CROW’-ACTIVE APPROACH at HudsonRiver Yoga, 2-4 pm.  An opportunity to experiment, not to compete.

Flight School is back in session.  Dress up like Ice Man if you like.  We may even buzz a tower or two.
“Well, Ron. The New York Times says I should run screaming away all yoga, especially ‘advanced’ poses.” Replies the peanut gallery.

I am here to say that arm balances can be practiced safely, when they are approached with self-awareness, intelligence, and respect. And that’s exactly what we are going to do.

Our reactions to arm balances help us to build awareness of how we approach difficult situations. We are asking ourselves to completely change how we support ourselves.  We are quite literally taking a flying leap into the unknown, hoping that everything will be alright.  We are asking ourselves to completely operate on faith.

These are very useful tools for self awareness off the mat.  Forget nice arms and shapely abs, arm balances benefit us the most by forcing us to concentrate and purposefully operate on risk. 

Our focus will be on kakasana—crow pose. Some call it bakasana, crane pose.  As far as I can tell, the only  real difference lies with the lineage.  Krishnamacharya’s peeps call it baka- (crane), Sivananda’s peeps call it kaka- (crow).  Most people I’ve met commonly call it crow regardless of the Sanskrit term they use.  Both names have interesting stories, which I will tell.  I prefer crow, because of the connection to Rama, and ‘crane-active’ just doesn’t have the same ring.  But I digress.  

I have long considered crow the gateway to other arm balances.  Yes, there is an element of strength needed.  Yes, there is an element of flexibility needed. However, this pose is so much more about technique.  Set the hands, set the shoulders, apply bandhas, fix dristhi.  Then tipping into the balance.  It’s fairly easy to move gradually into the pose, testing balance, working with fear, backing out as needed.  Overcoming the fear of crow and incorporating into your practice opens the door for side crow, handstand, and a host of other arm balances.  And changing the point of entry. Oh yes, we will play with jumping into crow. Maybe Headstand 2 into crow.  Maybe maybe handstand into crow. The foundations for these balances (which require building confidence, strength, and flexibility, either for the pose itself or for entering the pose) all are contained with in our good friend Sri Kakasana.  Learn this one, and the rest will come.

The Jivamukti crew use “Let Go” as a focal point for meditation.  Breathe in “Let,” breathe out “Go.”  We’ll borrow this, and learn how the addition of mantra completely changes asana from a pure physical practice to a meditative one.  We will let go our fears, let go our “I can’t possibly” mind.  When we let go “I can’t,” the only thing left is “Maybe I can.”

Come to Flight School.  It’s good for you, like soup.  Contact me for details.

 Pink Floyd--Learning to Fly

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