dharana Leads to Mastery
There are multiple reasons why we practice asana (the physical practice of yoga), but most of us would agree that the primary one is that we feel better afterwords. Asana offers us an opportunity to get to know our body deeper level because it demands the full attention of our mind. You can’t mentally check out while holding a balance posture, you must stay present. Its that type of absolute focus that allows us to advance in anything we do. In the yoga sutras the harnessing of our minds attention to focus on one thing is referred to as Dharana. We can get to the state of Dharana on and off the mat, it’s a skill that can permeate every aspect of our life. To become masterful at anything we do we must practice this single pointed focus, so how do we do it in our asana practice?
The challenge most of us face is that our only measure of progress in the asana practice is attainment of postures. I say asana specifically because the yoga practice includes far more than the study of the physical body, and for this discussion I want to target the development of our physical awareness. If the postures are our only measurement than we subconsciously will strive for the ability to achieve more of them so long as we feel safe enough. On the other hand if we dont feel safe than we will likely hold ourselves back from our potential. I’d like to invite you to focus your attention on something more specific in your physical practice: targeted, intentional muscle activation and the sensations you experience while doing so. Instead of practicing many postures, focus on fewer postures with several muscle activations. The body has a tremendous amount of muscles so limit your options by focusing on one area of your body i.e. the hips, shoulders, spine, ankles, core, etc. This is how I structure my Elements of Mastery immersion, I take you through simple postures while targeting each area of the body throughout the weekend, or online course. In the video below I give the example of how to activate 3 different muscle groups in the “hips” category for one single posture, lunge pose.
What Does it mean to be advanced?
The practice of yoga is always about developing some form of awareness through intentional actions. Advanced in the physical practice of asana means heightened proprioception of the body, or “Body Awareness”. Understanding how to activate the various muscles of the body in order to move your bones/joints and be able to feel the sensations of these action is what qualifies an advanced practitioner. For some that may result in complex postures that require flexibility and strength, and for others it might be living a more pain free life. In any case “advanced” is not aesthetic its functional which may or may not be visually pleasing to someone watching. The recent interest in fascia, connective tissue of the body, has revealed many findings in modern research. While researchers are just a few years into the study of connective tissue, studies are showing the correlation between proprioception and chronic pain – those that are less aware of and capable of moving or activating certain areas of their body also experience chronic pain in these areas. What that means for us practicing yoga is to use the practice to develop greater body awareness if we want to decrease chronic pain. Watch the Video below to see how I explore different muscle groups within a simple lunge posture
Elements of Mastery
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SAMADHI Dissolving into the state of oneness.SamadhiSamadhiSamadhi is the experience we have when the mind realizes the totality of itself - that it is one part of an infinitely grander whole. Using an analogy from one of my teachers, Alan Finger – Consiousness is...
FLYING PIGEON Key Actions to Balance in Flying Pigeon PoseFlying pigeonFlying Pigeon: BalanceFlying Pigeon is an exceptionally challenging pose for several reasons, strength, balance, flexibility for starters. Learning to balance on the hands requires tremendous...
Triangle Pose Triangle pose is an iconic posture in yoga that has tremendous benefits for increasing hip range of motion by creating more flexibility of the hamstrings and adductors (inner thigh muscles). There are several potential strength benefits that triangle...
Why STretching your hips might cause knee pain Pigeon Pose is one of the most widely beloved postures in the yoga practice across a multitude of styles. This is for good reason. However, the issue I see most often with this posture is that it comes with little...
Integrating Shoulder ActionsIntegrating the 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions into your practice can be complicated, so to help you I have come up with 3 Steps to Master your Chaturanga. If you haven't yet watched Chaturanga Alignment: 3 Necessary Shoulder Actions then it...
Why Get Stronger? Chaturanga is one of the most repeated poses in the modern yoga practice, and it happens to be one of the most challenging on the shoulders. It is highly beneficial to take a look at the mechanics of the posture. I have been studying this posture for...
Learn the techniques that make Handstand fun, easy and accessible! This collection of the top 12 most effective exercises will make you rethink how you approach handstand and what is possible.
In this workshop you will practice specific techniques to open your hips, finding greater rang of motion and freedom. Each action in the body is carefully layered and clearly articulated to provide you with success.
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