In the Alignment and Warriors Workshop the other week we had students with a mixed range of experience. It was super fun with a huge range of questions (always exciting and challenging for the teacher) that ranged from the very basic, to the experienced, to the subtle. “Why does Asana feel so heavy?” was not an uncommon comment.
Three moments remind me how interesting this work is:
A relatively inexperienced student who realised that she had to work out exactly where her feet had to be before doing the shape, and suddenly the shapes were much easier than she had been thinking.
The Yoga teacher who finally found a shape in W2 where she felt no discomfort and it felt so easy she said, "I could stay here forever!".
The experienced gentleman who realised that his stance was too long and he was struggling to hold the pose for five breaths.
I was most curious as to why this mixed group came together.
It sounds counter-intuitive to some, but all levels of experience know they can benefit from going back to basics/fundamentals often and this yields a deeper experience that spirals your study and practice forward/deeper.
In a Vinyasa practice we flow or move through postures and having the foundations as your guidelines embodied makes movement between, and into, poses safer, steadier, easier and more fun. You feel confident that you are in the right place.
You will never truly grow out of the basics. If you do perhaps that says more about your attitude than your ability as a student or skill as a teacher. Basics, like hand and foot positions, ideas on developing your connection to the ground, what your hips/pelvis are doing to support your spine and, in fact, what all your body is actually doing in space are the cornerstones to your practice and deepening your learning.
Stepping back once in a while is a surefire way to move forward. Increasing your understanding and feeling so you can go deeper is about becoming better friends with the fundamentals. As your awareness increases and your understanding expands then you notice what new things are possible and new poses suddenly become accessible. By stepping back you set up the foundations for new advances – as students and as teachers.
You will never truly grow out of the fundamentals. Don’t hope they will sort themselves out along the way. So instead of shying away from them try to make them your best friends, and like best friends, they need a bit of attention and dedication every now and then.
By Alessandro Gozzi