What I learned during a one-breath asana practice

Disclaimer: Practice chatter coming.

Pressed for time Wednesday morning, I followed a routine that I believe is Nancy Gilgoff’s idea: holding asanas for just one breath.

From ashtangayoga.info

Because I was really pressed for time, I’ll admit I did this just for the standing poses — and then had a long forward fold and a long Hero’s Pose before moving to the finishing sequence.

As with anytime that I mix up my Ashtanga practice, it was a bit revelatory.

(Quick sidebar: This revelation does not mean I’ll be mixing in other yoga styles. Although, I’ll admit, it suggests I should. See why not here.)

In particular, this particular practice seemed to emphasize the Vinyasa nature of Ashtanga. It was, really, a lot of movement and so I shouldn’t be surprised. But I felt more acutely how breath and movement (and the body) are supposed to come together — I think. At the least I got a sense of this more so than with my regular practice.

I suspect that one reason is the usual when doing a shorter practice: You can focus on what you are doing and don’t have to pace yourself.

But I also think that more explicitly linking the moving breaths — the breaths taken when moving from pose to pose, I mean — brought them to the forefront. Rather than the five-breath “state of the pose” taking center stage, the Vinyasa was the lead actor.

And that was a very different experience. It also was a reminder that the Vinyasa may be in too supportive of a role during my usual practice. There’s always something you really need to improve, right?

So, another short practice, another blast of insight. Which is leading me to wonder about the value of changing things up with the practice to encourage the ability to focus differently.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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