by Micki Leventhal
As a teacher and a student, I am often asked about how I’ve achieved good balance and good posture. I believe three factors to attaining good balance and good posture are breath, focus, and lines of energy. In my own movement practices –which includes Yoga, dance, and Tai Chi – I find that these three elements work together to enhance and improve both the physical and energetic/spiritual experiences. As you move through your class or personal practice, I recommend:
- Regulating the breath and working toward Sama Vritti, (“equal breathing”). That is, extended (but not strained) inhales and exhales of the same length and quality. Sama Vritti helps quiet the mind, bringing you more fully into the body and the present moment, so that you can fully experience, and get maximum benefit from, your class.
- Let your breath direct your movement. Find a breath rhythm that is comfortable for you and stick with it. If your breath is getting ragged during a relatively rigorous practice, slow your movement down. When I teach, I regularly cue student on these points, which are particularly important in a Vinyasa practice.
- Maintain a soft visual focus (in dance we often call this “the indefinite distance”). Don’t look around, resist checking yourself out in the mirror, refrain from comparing yourself to others in the room.
- As your asana practice advances, and you begin to trust your body-knowledge of the postures, learn to practice pratyahara, or “withdrawal of the senses,” from external stimuli. Develop a more internal focus and you will become increasingly attuned to subtle sensations within your physical and energetic body. Your practice will deepen – and you will also help yourself avoid injury.
Lines of Energy
- Visualize lines of energy running through your body. Grounding down and lifting up; extending from side to side; lengthening diagonally. Think about all the planes of the body. This approach will energetically connect you with the positive energies available around you and, from a physical standpoint help you stretch, strengthen, lengthen, and balance.
At the end of your yoga class orpersonal practice your should feel better both physically and emotionally – calmer and lighter, happier and more hopeful.
Try the tips above, and consider joining me for a class on Monday morning (9:00-10:15am) at The Yoga Centre. And most of all: Enjoy!
© 2017 Micki Leventhal