My aim of practicing Vijñāna Yoga is not necessarily to achieve the final pose but instead understanding how to approach to the posture. It is more about understanding step by step how to get there until the posture unfolds itself to me.
Practice takes time, dedication, awareness, self study and patience- not to over intensify, not to get discouraged. One of the things that helps me on my very own path is the working with the 7 Vital principles, also called the “Good Habits” of every Yoga practice. They allow me to be more aware of my own practice, the way I move in space, the way I shift my weight using gravity. which then enables me to move into the posture more quietly.
In my last blog post I wrote about the third and fourth Vital principles: the Intent & the Rooting.
Today we look closer on the means of the last threeVital principles: Connecting, Breathing & Elongating and Widening
Connecting is the 5th vital principle out of seven. It describes the movement of the body as a chain floating in space. It describes all parts of the body being in balance and work in harmony.
In my personal practice it reminds me that there are always two opposite directions that are connected to each other.
To go up, go down.
To go forwards, shift into the back.
Wishing for the left side, steady yourself to the right.
Wishing to expand, come from the core.
The farthest limb from the ground in each pose connects to that which is rooting into the ground.
Visualizing the chains again, the rings of the chain never touch each other and the body moves in “oneness”.
Breathing is the 6th vital principle out of seven. Sometimes the exhalation last longer than the inhalation; sometimes it is short and decisive. At times more in the background, at times clearly audible as a source of effort and action.
If you are practicing breathing awareness you may have already discovered that the more you observe your breath, the more long & subtle your breath gets and that the cycle of breathing is more than just inhaling and exhaling.
Once you are aware of your breath there is a little retention, a little stopping (in Yoga we call it Kumbhaka) after every inhalation and after every exhalation.
One could conlcude that breathing is not made out of only inhaling and exhaling but :
Inhalation & Kumbakha, Exhaltion & Kumbakha. Each one as one unit.
How do we look at both in relation to time and space?
Space divides into inner and outer space.
By inhaling feel the space inside your chest, feel the breath spreading from your heart to the whole body up to your toes and finger tips.
Feel instead of doing.
By exhaling it is as if you move back to the center through a very thinly, long, sutle breath.
Relating our Breathing to time is quite simple and often used in Pranayama( Breathing Contral exercises).
We count the times of our inhalation and exhalation.
The big challenge here is to do it with desire.
You inhale and exhale before it becomes a need. You feel the urge while it feels pleasant . This reates very much to the whole of Vijnana practice and teh saying that the posture is suppose to be pleasant and stable. So I personally feel not onla the posture but the breathing as well.
Try out for yourself
Sit in a comfortable position & Relax the body.
“How long does it take you to Inhale and Exhale?”
Be aware of your breathing. You inhale – you go deep within, you exhale – you connect to the world.
Verify if you can feel that there is a little retention, a little stopping after every inhalation and after every exhalation.
Count the times of each inhaling and each exhaling and try to make them equal. If you are used to Pranayama include the retentions. 😉
See if you can do a bit less of what you are doing in a sense of breathing in and out more out of a DESIRE instead of a NEED.
Feel instead of doing.
If you practice it out of a NEED, you hold on to it and there is this feeling of the longer I hold on, the better I am. You avoid the breath spreading from your heart to the whole body.
All the parts of the body are balanced and work together in harmony. Like a chain floating in space, the rings that make up the chain never touch each other.
Elongating & Widening
The seventh principle in the practice is Elongating & Widening.
Elongating and Widening is a natural outcome of practicing the first six Vital Principles.
It is important to be aware that there is a profound difference between elongating and stretching. Stretching is a mechanical lengthening. It takes place on a purely physical level and therefore there is a limit in stretching. Elongating is like a hidden door which is opened by breathing and allows the muscle to undo itself. We elongate without another muscle shortening. In elongating there seems to be no limit at all.
The process of elongating come about by rooting, connecting & breathing, in which breathing is both: the connecting glue as well as the fuel which pulls the body through the movements & asanas.
We look out for a mind that allows us to look at the body from many angles and enables the body to reveal itself.