I’ve been practicing yoga intensively since August 2014. Most current practice, I just follow the movements of yoga teachers who taught in the class. Without thinking too much about the origin of the movement and the effect on my body. Of course I feel healthy after practicing yoga regularly. Does not mean that I am an ill people. But at least, I feel that yoga makes my body more fit and increased my immunity. So I do not easily get sick.
Unlike the other sports variant, yoga has its own challenges. Before practicing yoga regularly, I like to run, weight training at gym and workout with TRX (Total Resistance eXercise). But I had reached a saturation point when doing those sports. I cannot personally reach better result. Moreover, my body weights getting more and more decreased, at the time, because those exercises burn a lot of calories. By doing yoga, my body weights maintain stable and I feel my muscles getting stronger. But again, I did not know where they come from.
All I knew, yoga has a lot of challenging poses. Yoga has inversion poses, which our head is lower than our hips. Forward bend, side bend, and backbend poses, in which our body is extend and then bend to the certain direction. Twisting poses, in which our hips or ribs are rotating. And balancing poses with leg or arms, in which we have to stay stable in certain position just by relying on our one leg or arms. Each poses has their own alignment, benefit and risk as well.
Even the basic standing, seated and reclining poses, which we (or at least I) may think it’s easy, have their own alignment. So the muscles can work optimally, we can stably get into the pose and comfortably stay on the pose. But again, I didn’t know how they work.
In addition to practicing yoga in the classroom, I also often practice yoga at home by watching youtube. I type keyword about a certain muscle that I want to train, problem that I want to solve, flowing that I want to follow, training time I want to spend and poses that I want to be mastered.
For example, I was obsessed on having a flat belly. So I simply type “flat belly yoga” on youtube search. I selected a video with duration of about ten to fifteen minutes. And then, follow the instruction on the video. The result is, yes, my belly is flat by now. But the video is not the hero. I just watched the video once, or maybe twice. The video only satisfies my curiosity about the poses that can give a flat belly result. Practice, later. I didn’t care about how the poses can be worked and the caution.
Another example, I was curious about how to get into eight angle pose or astavakrasana. So I type “astavakrasana tutorial” on youtube search. Then sometimes, instead of watching the whole video, I often skip the preparation and go straight toward how to get into the pose. I often only pay attention for legs and arms placement. I practice by trial and error to get the balance. I rarely pay attention to breathing technique, shape of the spine, muscles contraction and soon. I thought that the more I practice, the faster I get into the pose. No matter how often I fell, I was sure that one day I could get into the pose. I also did not really care about the benefits of the pose on my body. I just see that the pose looks difficult yet beautiful. So it challenges me.
I’m finally mastering the pose now. But, I realize the matter is not only on arms or legs placement. More than that, the pose requires ingenuity. I have to know exactly where I have to hang my body weight, which body part I have to engage, and most importantly how to regulate the breathing so it can sync with the movement to get into the pose.
When I start reading the book two months ago, I was about to learn how to do a pinchamayurasana. I was practicing this pose for since six months earlier before and it never worked on. I keep on jumping back, and fell. My body never gets stable at the time. I practice emotionally and inefficient. When I read the book, I didn’t expect anything at the time. I thought it just another boring textbook, which would bring me back into highschool’s biology subject. At the time, I still believed that practice is enough, no needs complicated theory. The more I practice, the more I got the progress, and the closer I would succeed into the pose. And then, I remember the quotes; without practice, theory is irrelevant. But practice without theory is chaos. –W.Grant
After I read just the first chapter, dynamic of breathing, I realized that the breathing techniques play a very important role in yoga. I also started to realize that yoga is more than just physically practice. Before I read this book, I’ve already knowing and applying ujjayi breathing and always breath through nose to nose during my yoga practice. But all I know at the time was that breath through nose to nose is just for keeping the energy. Just after I finished read the breathing chapter, and try to give more intention of breathing, I feel that the quality of my practices has been improving. I feel that the better breathing technique give me more room to think, to build up the power, to sync my movement, to hold on and stay stable on the pose. I also feel that the proper breathing technique help me to achieved more solid, firm, stable and also comfortable on every asana.
As I continue reading, I also learn about the spine, bones, muscles and its relationship with creating yoga sequences. As I also learn that creating yoga sequences is more than just making a harmonious choreography. It needs more knowledge about which muscle should work for the asanas and how to arrange a great synergy between breathe and movement, effectively. I also got more knowledge of benefits and risks that should be avoided on the body’s muscle. So as I create the sequences, me and my student can explore deeper on the practice. This book also helps me to be more understand the asanas, breaking down the preparation into the certain intermediate to advance poses, and also determining the suitable counter poses. By reading this book, I find my practices become more efficient.
If before reading I just relied on quantity of practice and filled it with trial and error, now I can go explore deeper into the asanas, learn more about them and feel more connection on my whole yoga practice.
The later effects when I teach is I do not need to get hung up on “yoga sequences formula books “. Of course I still need to enrich my knowledge and reference in the future. But this book has been guiding me to understand not only which body parts are working on the yoga sequences, but also the cause and effects in every movement. So again, I can create an effective yet sync flow.