Something that easily makes us feel wonderful, feeling strong, that your body would do what you ask it without much effort, or even with a sense of effortless joy.
So how to feel like this? Well it takes practice, and repetition, or to use another word for repetition, from Dr Tomas Hanna’s Somatic exercises, “rehearsal”, this word takes the edge off the slightly boring idea of doing something over & over again to build strength.
Repetition can be seen as a type of meditation, so by no means is it not worthy to appear alongside strength, repetition of a skilful movement pattern can bring a softness to the transitions between the positions or actions, and therefore be a very productive method for building strength in certain areas of the body at the same time as releasing tension in the areas which don’t need to be used for the actions intended.
The idea in Yoga is to refine the breath to body coordination in order to allow the brain to inform the body to use the muscle, and skeletal structures to their greatest efficiency. In this way all the systems work together in a harmonious way to enable strength not to even be an issue, it will happen automatically.
Since the beginning of November ’18 a small group of us decided to start a short morning session before work, as often as we could simply doing 20 minutes of Sun Salutations. Surya Namaskar A, and B.
Its February tomorrow, so a great time to look back over these sessions of repeating (or rehearsing/refining) the structure of these movements, and how it has affected our bodies., and maybe even our way of breathing and thinking.
Interestingly a few of us found the first 4 sessions really hard work, loosing our breath, breaking a sweat, finding that holding the body in certain positions brought intense tension to chest, head, neck & arms. It felt like a huge effort. With a little coaching to bring better efficiency to the movements especially Chaturangha Dandasana;
(where more strength is required to transition into an upward facing dog position, than in most other transitions in the sequences) with breath coordination being one of the most prominent obstacles, these little refinements really helped to fine tune the postures.
The second week seemed to be more focused on the breathing and how to coordinate the upward movements with the in breath, the downward movement with the out breath, and not to get stressed out about taking cheeky little breaths here and there to keep in rhythm with yourself.
We realised that the breathing techniques we began to adopt for these movements, help to unlock one set of muscles, allowing for more movement/stretch, and use/engage the opposite set of muscles, in order to reach a fuller capacity or reach, rather than assuming we need to use both sets of muscles which ultimately is inefficient & can make us quite tired.
After a few weeks the rhythm of the sessions was firmly set, Monday to Thursday 9.10-9.30am. Open doors for any newcomers, which I encouraged because of the constant reminder to be humble in our progress and also to reaffirm what we had learned & see whether we had adapted any interesting habits along the way.
Now nearly 3 months later, a few of us have definitely felt the building of strength in our physique, but I wonder really if that is merely that we have trained our minds to tell us our bodies are more trustworthy to hold our weight, to hold our ideas. And may have loosened our idea of what we are.
I might add that “Core strength” is another contentious subject which is up for review. Tbc.