Friday, February 12, 2016

The Results of Your Practice

In my last posting, I mentioned that there is a difference between relaxation and depletion. At first glance, it can be difficult to gauge but with practice, the difference between relaxation and depletion becomes clearly apparent.

The first step in gauging the difference between depletion and relaxation is to shift the observational time-scale from the immediate to many hours later. My old yoga teacher, Roger, was the one who taught me the importance of gauging the effect of a yoga pose (or practice) by observing mind and body many hours after the practice.

When I first began studying yoga with Roger, I used to love a practice where I'd drop back into Urdhva Dhanurasana and then come back up to standing... 108 times. ( When doing this practice, my mind felt clear and fresh, and coming out of this practice I felt like one billion bucks (inflation... one million isn't what it used to be).

Roger, in his not-so-subtle way, suggested that my beloved drop-backs practice was making me more fragile and brittle. Not so, I insisted! I felt great during and after this practice, and I felt that there was no way that this advanced yoga was anything but a fast track to enlightenment. Seeing that I was not open to new ideas in that moment, Roger waited until a few weeks later to revisit his point.

The next time Roger mentioned my beloved drop-backs practice I was sprawled on the sofa, barely able to keep my eyes open... in the middle of the day. Upon asking how I felt, my responses were probably pretty gurgly... I was on the losing end of the liminal struggle to remain awake.

This time, more gently, Roger suggested that my current state of exhaustion might be related to the morning's practice. Somehow I was able to entertain this suggestion the second time around, and in the following days and weeks I tracked how I felt 4+ hours after I did my practices. And I was shocked!

Some of the morning practices that left me feeling meh in the moment cultivated a great sense of mental steadiness and physical vitality later in the day. And some of the practices that I considered profound in the moment, whether restorative or uber vigorous, left me feeling flat later in the day.

In time, I learned how to gauge the difference between energizing and agitating, calming and depleting in real-time, though that degree of differentiation took awhile to cultivate. Through observing how I felt 4+ hours after a practice I was able to learn the essential skill of seeing through the flash and dazzle of the momentary experience. And seeing through the swirl of the momentary experience allowed me to observe more deeply what was going on in my energy body.

Yoga practice is an ongoing experiment, and part of experimentation is the observation of the results. I encourage you to notice how you're feeling 4+ hours after you practice yoga. Of course, there are many variables at play in observing how you feel: the foods that you've eaten, life stresses, etc. But even with all the potential variables, often patterns emerge.

I'm curious to hear what you experience - please share your findings in the comments!

1 comment:

Simple Yoga At Home said...

Thank you for sharing a Nice article about Yoga