If we define Yoga solely as the postures, I practice three days per week, or so. If we include seated meditation and breathing exercises in our definition of Yoga, then I practice each day.
The other day I was at a crossroads in my run. I could have gone out for another 20 minutes or headed indoors for some yoga time. The latter was compelling, and I couldn’t help but notice my pace increase at the thought of some quiet time on the mat.
As I was unfolding my mat, thoughts of practice swirled: backbends, front bends, inversions, pranayama, etc.… The world (or at least my tiny corner of it) was my oyster.
After some quiet reflection, I began exploring the tiniest poses I could feel. Typically I’ll expand the poses until I bump into something I consider interesting. Sometimes interesting includes the end-range of motion, sometimes I’ll explore the limits of eccentric strength (active stretching), and sometimes I explore the movement until some sort of reactivity (tensing, clenching, etc.) appears.
During this practice, I practiced some of my regular, go-to poses: prone backbends, seated twists, and twisting variations within headstand. In each pose, I started in a relatively neutral or uninvolved position, and then I moved slowly into the poses until there was some flicker of sensation change – the minimum threshold of perception.
To the fly on the wall, this practice must have been wholly uninteresting. The twists weren’t very twisty, the backbends weren’t very bendy, and the headstand variations were a blink-and-you-missed-it shift from the plain, vanilla headstand.
After 20-minutes of this practice, I spent some quiet time in Savasana, and observed the whirling, swirling energies in my body. Interestingly, the smallest perceptible poses had an outsized effect. For hours afterward, I could scarcely believe how energized and refreshed I felt – from practicing the tiniest, barely-perceptible poses.
In Yoga, as in design, quite often less is more!