Finding Your Inner Athlete

Finding Your Inner AthleteIn the Western philosophical/spiritual traditions, the mind and body are usually treated as separate entities. As St. Paul, in effect, said, ‘ the soul can only be experienced through the body.’

When we do our yoga/meditation practice we are not looking to take leave of our senses so much as engage them in the present moment.Destiny over a fate being our focus this month, we can apply this concept to our workouts as well. Rather then doing an exercise by mindlessly approximating a pose, flinging our limbs about any old way and hoping we will get all the benefits, we can set our intention and stay present to insure we reap the rewards by keeping an eye on certain alignment principles.I come from a heavy Iyengar Yoga/dance background and know the importance of alignment in any physical practice. I have learned that slowing down and focusing on quality rather then quantity is the key to change and growth. When the body is placed well we actually get more energy and results from an exercise. When not placed well, we can only experience diminishing returns. Alignment keeps us safe, gives us energy, ease of movement, shapes our muscles, helps us breathe more fully, and more importantly, helps us to feel in sync with our selves. Alignment is all about lining up the bones so the muscles can work the way they are meant to. When your bones are lined up, even walking down the street, or sitting at your desk, will keep your muscles toned!You sometimes need to release tension from the body to give the bones a chance to get into their proper alignment. This is where we need some applied focus. Be aware of habitual gripping in the body. Sometimes we can work too hard trying to force our bodies into certain positions. When we release and work “soft,” we give the muscles time to relax their grip on our bones and they can fall into place.You can especially experience this when working on opening the hips. Sometimes when you are releasing the pelvis it may even feel as though the hips are getting wider!!! We are actually creating more space in the pelvis so the muscles can hug them. This will actually give you a sleeker line. I had one hip that had been turned inward for years throughout my dance/Iyengar Yoga training. When I focused on getting it sorted out once and for all my hips felt scarily wide. I did feel incredible space in my hips and pelvis but I actually lost an entire jean size! To sum it all up, we consider the terms Warrior and Yogi to be synonymous. We want to cultivate an inspired intentionality, an energetic purposefulness behind everything we do. How do you feel an exercise is meant to be working? Are you fully engaged in the process? How can your life improve in light of your effort (beyond just reducing a jean size!) . In what ways do you need to let go and in what ways do you need to intensify? These considerations can bring your yoga and life to a new level.Meditation of the Month: Live Your DestinyPeople often use the words fate and destiny interchangeably. The yoga tradition tells us that a Fate is time, space, and circumstance controlling us, and a Destiny happens when we align ourselves with our purpose and power. It’s important to note that a “Destiny,” doesn’t always mean taking the path of least resistance. Often when one lives one’s Destiny, life can be very challenging, but you know its right. The purpose of yoga is to provide us with the tools to align time and space with our inner talents and higher desires. The following technique should be done on an empty stomach. In this meditation the left side of the body represents time, the right side space. Infinity is the central pathway of the spine. These types of correspondences are more than symbolic. Our bodies and minds are holographic constructs which contain the Universe. When you sacrifice your time, space, and comfort to honor your soul, the entire Universe bears witness to your effort and blessings come to you.Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Join the backs of the hands together in Reverse Prayer Pose. Your hands are at sternum level away from the body. The elbows are contacting your body at the base of the ribs. The forearms will form a 60 degree angle. Be sure that all of the fingers are meeting along their lengths, especially the index fingers. For most people the thumbs will be apart. You will feel a stretch across the shoulders. Your eyes are 1/10 open looking down and in towards the tip of the nose.Part 1 – Inhale in 4 even strokes through nose. Exhale with a whistle. Call on infinity as you whistle. Feel your awareness expand on each exhale to fill the Universe. Stay steady. Be master of your mind and nervous system. After 11 min. inhale stretch up for all you’re worth. Then reassume Reverse Prayer Pose and immediately proceed to part 2.Part 2 – Begin Long Deep Breathing through the nose. As you inhale think the sound “Wha,” and as you exhale think “Guru.” Wha Guru means ecstasy beyond words and will give your mind a wider horizon. Command your mind to maintain deep breathing and hold the posture steady. 11 min. Inhale deeply and exhale. Immediately proceed to part 3Part 3 – Now breath long and light, like silk thread, long and smooth. Attempt to inhale very slowly for up to 30 seconds and exhale very slowly for up to 30 seconds. On both the inhale and exhale think Wahay Guru, over and over quickly, in rhythm with your heartbeat. Tell your mind to vibrate the mantra, control the breath, and hold the posture steady. Be witness to the process and cultivate the desire to execute this perfectly. If you have a lapse of attention or commitment, inspire yourself again. Continue for 11 min. Then inhale, stretch up powerfully, then shake your hands overhead and relax. Now from this place of overview, think about your life and what habits or patterns no longer serve you. Then consider what practical steps you can take to substitute those for a way of life that makes you happy. This technique was taught by Yogi Bhajan on Nov. 6th 1975. It can help us rise above patterns of denial, self-created suffering, substance abuse, and emotional upheaval. It’s easier to self-medicate, but in the long run, it’s better to self-meditate!

All Best to You,Ravi Singh & Ana / 212.982.5518

by Ravi Singh & Ana Bret
Ravi and Ana been featured presenters at the Midwest Yoga Conference, The Toronto Yoga Show, and the Six Days on Freedom Retreat. Their clients have included Olympic Athletes and celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Lou Reed, Carrie-Anne Moss, Donna Karan, and The Red Hot Chile Peppers. They’ve taught in many diverse contexts: from Iceland to Maui, Canada to Costa Rica, from boardrooms and Park Avenue Penthouses, to scientists at Bell Labs, from Opera Singers at the Aspen Music Festival and street kids in Los Angeles to backstage at Broadway plays. They are Authors of the Fat Free Yoga DVD series and the forthcoming book Fat Free Yoga.