What Sequence?

I am not sure where the practice of performing a long series of standing poses on one leg than the other originated however……
camel pose lillahFrom my experience with yoga, taught in the lineage of Krishnamacharya’s Astanga revival, I have not experienced that type of pose sequencing. From a body-wisdom point of view, as well as my Iyengar perspective, I would like to suggest that long sequences of standing poses all on one leg, then the other, to be impractical for several reasons.

If in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra we are to find stability and ease in asana as part of the evolution of consciousness, then after completing nine poses on the right leg it is hard to recall which muscles are stronger or weaker in each pose, and the relationship between the two legs is lost, causing the path of stability to eludes us. We exhaust the first leg then move to the second, but we are unable to recall the action of the right leg in Trikonasana compared to the left. It appears we dull rather than awaken our inner intelligence.

Ida Rolf, the founder of Rolfing through the Rockefeller Institute, once said the smart side teaches the dull side. So when we move directly from one side to the other in the same pose we avail ourselves of this possibility. We can, in a symmetrical yoga practice, develop and come to understand the relationship of the right leg to the left, the areas of constriction, tone, weakness, strength, and make choices to move toward balance. In essence we expand our consciousness.

Our nervous system begins to easily re- calibrate bringing forth a more “satvic” or integrated state.  There is a sense of ease and tone that results from this type of practice vs., the excessive effort of “all one side than the other” which leads to nervous system exhaustion. It may be great for blowing our Ego out of the water, but not as good for raising our cellular consciousness or the vitality of our nervous system.

I am not saying that I would never perform a vinyasa style yoga practice, but rather suggest that even there, standing poses be grouped by kind. Such as grouping the 4 lateral standing poses; Triangle, Warrior 2, Extended Side Angle and Half Moon pose, which still gives a sense of relationship between our parts as the primary actions required in that group are similar. The well defined relationships of body parts will transmit consciously and unconsciously to the second side.

My final thought is that the more asymmetrical your hips, legs, spine, the more imperative it is that your yoga poses progress one at a time, right side – left side, if you are to reach the balance, equanimity and ease that yoga has promised.

The purpose of our “ yoga practice is to develop the body to the level of the vibrant mind so that the body and the mind, having both become vibrant, are drawn toward the Light of the Soul,” BKS Iyengar from Tree of Yoga.

Your comments are welcomed. Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for video postings on a sacral stabilization series. Namaste, Lillah

This post was written by Lillah on May 26, 2010
Posted Under: Articles by Lillah

Add a Comment

required, use real name
required, will not be published
optional, your blog address