I am very lucky to have learnt how to practice the Yoga Asanas from Mary Stewart who learnt from Vanda Scaravelli. These two women, prophetic in their field, were inspired to re-interpret and make contemporary the teaching they received from Iyengar, Desikachar and Krishnamacharya. From them I have learnt that gravity is the teacher and guide when you practice. Force and a sense of fixing or conquering the body are never helpful. They only ever succeed in distancing you from your self, your body and the environment. So when you are in class, or are setting time aside to explore allow a gentle, precise, relaxed, clear, strong and empathetically contagious sense of delighting in movement and rest; in structure and flow; to be the context for your practice. In this way you will learn to release and orient within your body as and towards the ground which under-stands you as well as to stabilise and flow out into the pleasure of space and time and the world with its relationships around you. Movement, posture, gesture and breath are friends that are always with you. If followed and listened to they reveal a way of not efforting and of discovering where the whole system is already trying to go in gravity. Hatha (Sanscrit for sun and moon) Yoga is the ‘body’ aspect of Yoga. It is about learning to respect and make friends with this vehicle and container – our body. Jnana (Sanscrit – wisdom) Yoga is the yoga of meditation or making friends with the patterns of the mind and tracing the mind to silence.
The yoga positions, or asanas (Sanscrit – a position that can be held with steadiness and ease), are a system of movement explorations that involve frontbending, backbending, twists, balances and inverted poses which are explored in lying, sitting and standing. These movements are learned over a period of time and step by step along a gradation of variations that take one deeper into the body and an understanding of the fabric of the body in its relationship to breath and gravity.
These yoga asanas are really ‘movement questions’ that one explores rather than ‘answers’ that one puts on the body. These movement questions give us a chance to explore the potential of the body while allowing its self-regulating capacity to heal what needs healing. This is integration.
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