Thursday, February 11, 2016

Yoga as Self Transformation (YTT - Week 4)

We were told to read the article "Yoga as Self-Transformation" by Joel Kramer (a Hatha yoga master) to prepare for this week.  This article is REALLY GOOD, especially if you are not fully aware of the benefits of yoga, or even why you like (or don't like) the practice.  He talks about how when we try difficult poses and finally master them, we aren't really doing yoga.  Something to think about when we see all of these people on Instagram showing us these "look what I can do" types of poses.  It really brings it back to the root of yoga, and tells you why you should not only practice it, but also view it as a practice instead of an end point.  It will indeed transform you.  Check it out here, totally worth the read!

The quotes that I really liked from the article:

Yoga as Self Transformation:

"The transformation that yoga brings makes you more yourself and opens you up to loving with greater depth.  It involves and  honing and refining which releases your true essence . . ."
"The quality of your life is directly related to have interested you are in it."
"The essence of yoga is not attainment, but how awarely you work with your limits - wherever they may be."
"Approaching postures as goals makes you less sensitive to the messages the body is sending."
"Valuing 'progress' is a deep part of our conditioning."
"It is usually not the body that tires at first, but rather the mind, which loses stamina required for attention."
"Yoga involves a balance between 'control' and 'surrender' - between pushing and relaxing, channeling energy and letting go, so the energy can move you."
"The art of yoga lies in learning how to focus and generate energy into different parts of the body, in listening to the body's messages, and in surrendering to where the energy leads you."  "The body will tell you when to move and deepen if you listen to it."
"The way we build security in our life involves habits that we are often not conscious of."
"If you miss the present, you miss all there really is."
"Experience conditions you, leaving a mark, an imprint."  "The paradox of experience is that it both teaches you and limits you."
"There are habits in yoga as in everything you do repeatedly, but awareness of the nature of habits help you avoid being automatically pushed by them."

Physical Aspects:

"Yoga gives you the possibility of taking your health into your own hands."
"Resisting aging is actually resisting transformation and growth."
"Yoga . . . opens you up to new ways, bringing a way of maturing and developing with elegance, depth and richness."
"Yoga can align and remold the structure of your own body according to an inner sense of what it needs."

Technique of Yoga:

"[Yoga] is a means for transformation, not an end in itself."

Attention and Focus:

"Learning to do yoga is among other things, learning to love doing it . . . as a general presence in your life."
"It is through being attentive that you learn where to focus, and deeper focus brings a capacity for a greater attention."


"[Prana, or breath] is a bridge between the mind and body."
"The proper use of breath gets you out of your mind and into your body, bringing a grace and sensuality to movement impossible when the mind is in control."

Playing Edges:

"There is a subtle psychological addiction to a completed pose, or at least to our maximum extensions."

Pain and Feedback:

"If you are running from the feeling, it's pain."
"Find a place in the posture where you're not afraid, but near where the fear comes in, hold this position, deepen the breath, and wait for relaxation to come and the body to open."
"Most injuries in yoga are brought about by ambition and inattention - usually both."  "You can not eliminate ambition through effort, for the very effort is ambition."
"Pain is feedback."

Lines of Energy:

"When the posture is properly aligned the currents of energy flow more freely.  This can be felt."

Understanding the Posture:

"When attention and focus, edge-playing, levers and lines of energy interweave so that these seemingly disparate elements become one, then you understand how the posture works."
"When you understand how the posture works and follow where the energy of the body leads you, often you find that what you think is a completed pose has further extensions and possible variations."

Psychological Aspects of Resistance:

"So much of what limits our yoga practice is not in the body itself, but rather mental attitudes and habits."
"If you can minimize mental resistance, that is the key to eventually working through the physical resistance."
". . . we all have fears and ambitions that we bring to yoga.  The problem is not that we have them, but rather that they take over our yoga often unconsciously."


"Doing yoga awarely can unhook you from . . . habits and addictions."
"Rigidity in the mind constricts mental movement and consequently limits the field of what is possible for you in life."
"Real growth and transformation move you not only from things you don't like, but also from pleasures and habits that you're attached to."
"[Yoga] gives you . . . the security of knowing that you can respond to whatever challenges life may bring."

Competition and Comparison:

"If you look carefully at competition, you will find that its roots lie in comparison, which is a basic mode of thought."  "The mind that compares is a useful and necessary tool, for day-to-day comparison is a basis for feedback."
"Wanting to progress has a self competitive aspect . . ."
"Comparison is an integral part of perceiving change . . ."
"Transformation is an endless process to be lived that cannot be captured or possessed - you can only participate in it."


"Evolution is the way a movement expresses itself throughout the universe."
"Yoga brings opening and movement deep within the very fiber of your being, and expands consciousness, enlarging your capacity for depth of communication."

February 10th -

After some Sun Salutations and Tadasana practice, we got together and discussed this article.  First we met in small groups, then larger groups and then as a whole, and talked about what the article brought up for us.  It was so lovely having that time to connect and just talk to each other, instead of sitting and taking notes or learning something, and I hope we get more time like that in the future.  I even went back to my regular yoga class before our training and am so happy I made it there in time, and was able to do all the poses still.  What a relaxing and fun night!

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