Yoga Etiquette: Being on Time
We have all been there: you look at the clock and it says 8:30 am, but then you look again and it says 9:10! In a mad dash, you grab your yoga mat and water bottle and race out the door, fly to the studio, run up the stairs, strip your t-shirt off, race into the room and BOOM, class begins. You exhale deeply and thank your lucky stars you made it.
Life can be crazy busy, we know that. We know that sometimes yoga only happens because it is literally squeezed in between meetings or errands. And we know that the moment of relief when you arrive is sweet. But dearest yogis, we invite you to think about yoga differently. What if your yoga practice began with the moment you decided to come to yoga?
What if everything about your practice - from the drive/bike/walk to the studio, to the climb up the stairs, to the moment you place your mat on the floor, to the sweaty post-class laundry was a part of your yoga?
We decided to write about this here because we've seen so many of you rushing in, just barely catching class.
Our classes begin and end promptly precisely because we respect that the class is just one part of your day. We want to be reliable for you so that you can get here and practice, but we're struggling to make that happen and we need your help. We are hoping that those of you who are timeliness challenged (you know who you are!) will take a moment and reflect on your habits and daily patterns and make the changes you need to make to arrive here with just 5 minutes to spare. We think you might be pleasantly surprised.
Posture of the Month: The Floor Series
Raise your hand if you've ever looked forward to the floor series because you're just dying to lie down and rest a little. Yep, you're not alone. Savasana brings us to the mat, and as we move into the floor series it can feel like we've moved into a lower gear.
But the floor series, if anything, is intended to be the harder work of the whole set of postures. In fact, many teachers view standing series as preparation for the spine work happening in the floor postures. Bikram himself said, "All the standing exercises, they are warm-up. The floor exercises are the serious Yoga."
The reason the floor series requires so much warm up is that the postures in it require the spine to move in a wide variety of ways. In the standing series the spine primarily moves forward and backward (with the exception of the side bends in Half Moon). The floor series builds on these by intensifying the forward bends (in postures like Rabbit) and backbends (in postures like Camel). However, the floor series also introduces postures that specifically strengthen the muscles around the spine (such as a Cobra, Locust, Full Locust, and Bow) and it introduces twists.
A spinal twist means that the upper body and lower body move in opposite directions in much the same way as wringing out a dishrag. Twists offer vital benefits to the body, but they need to be practiced with conscientious movements and mindful listening. Twists happen in the floor series in belly-down savasana (where the head is turned to the side), Head to Knee with Stretching Pose (when we try to bring the opposite elbow toward the floor) and in Spine Twisting Pose (in which the entire spine twists, top to bottom).
The floor series also introduces a different kind of energy and a more obvious movement between what Bikram calls, "big effort, the total relation." Rather than simply pause between postures, we take a 20-second, belly-down savasana in order to allow the body to absorb the benefits from the postures. And after each savasana we gather and build energy by using the breath and the core to sit up and stretch forward.
The floor series brings important new elements to the 26-posture series. If you listen hard to the dialogue and make your best effort during each short posture, the floor series can give you vital information about your body, mind, and spirit.