Yoga Tools

Photo by Michele Venne

In a yoga asana class, there are opportunities to practice many tools and techniques. For example, the breath. Even if the teacher doesn’t invite you to participate in a formal pranayama practice, being aware of when you are breathing in, when you are breathing out, and even the pause at the top and the bottom of the breath is pranayama. Engaging Ujjayi breath can be something that tethers you to the pose, to the moment.

Observing the ego can be another technique. Watch how the ego’s likes and dislikes of poses, the teacher, the cues, the temperature of the room, the other students, and even your own “performance” comes under scrutiny. Can you take a mental step back and acknowledge that you are not the commentary in the mind? Can you instead be interested? “Oh, the room is hot today. Isn’t that interesting?” Or, “Huh. My balance isn’t what it was in the last class. Isn’t that interesting?”

Even the practice of gratitude can be done in asana. Can you touch your toes? Be grateful! Can you balance on one foot? Be grateful! Can you notice one moment when the mind was quiet? Be grateful!

Eventually, the practices that we do on the mat can be taken into the world where they help us to remain in a state of contentment instead of being tossed hither and yon by circumstances and events. Use the breath, observe the ego, practice gratitude for everything, and see how it makes a difference in optional suffering.