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Lesson 107 -
Self-Pacing in Postures and Practices (Audio)
Date: Thu Feb 5, 2004 11:47am
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Q: I have been 'dabbling' (sometimes alot, sometimes little) in ashtanga
yoga for 5.5 yrs and my yoga has helped me with the breathing and mulabandha
(ashtanga very enjoyable- even for a xc skier/triathlete who is not too
flexible) and recently I was in a car accident that has strained my wrist.
Do you have any suggestions on how I could modify sun salutations and
vinyasas to most effectively continue my practice, as I had just started to
get on a roll again before the car crash?
A: For sun salutation, asanas, and, in fact, all yoga practices, the first
rule is to never force, and always use gentle persuasion. If there is some
stiffness, injury, or discomfort, then we just go to our natural limit and
test it a little. Never to the point of pain or strain. Just to the point of
the limit of movement, and then be there for the time of our posture. This
may be nowhere near the full posture, which is perfectly fine. We do what we
can comfortably in the direction of the posture without strain, knowing we
will be doing gradually more in subsequent sessions. If any degree of
stretch becomes uncomfortable, we back off to a comfortable level. Or, if it
can go a little further without strain, then we let it. This is what we have
talked about many times as we go through advanced yoga practices. It is the
principle of "self-pacing." It is the fine art of progressing in yoga --
never forcing, always using gentle persuasion. With this approach, the body
and nervous system slowly but surely move to more flexibility, purification,
and greater experiences of inner peace and bliss.
There is the old saying, "By the yard, life is hard. By the inch, it's a
It is easy to become advanced in yoga if we know how to handle self-pacing.
The guru is in you.
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Note: For instructions on
building an asana routine with self-pacing, see the Asanas,
Mudras and Bandas book, and
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