Photo of crowd of yoga students meditating in a tent.

The beauty of doing balanced yoga practice

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my yoga teaching gig at Shambala Fields Lost Paradise. This music festival is held between December 28th and New Years in the beautiful Glenworth Valley north of Sydney.

It’s such an audacious thing, teaching yoga to a crowd who I don’t know at all. Especially since I’m so used to ‘my’ students. They are known to me, regular in attendance and attend local classes that are moderately sized. I’m imagining that the Shambala attendees will be mainly young and fit people. They may want a strong and physical yoga practice with no frills. I’ll leave my usual props at home.

Dynamic yoga practice contributes greatly to health and vitality. But yogis need to include other practices to recharge their batteries and/or heal injuries or medical conditions. As we age, there needs to be a directional shift towards more reflective practices. Might as well adopt these practices early on. If you want to go the distance with yoga, build in meditation while you’re still young.

Complaints from my cohorts

It’s being said loudly and often by teachers of my generation that modern yoga has become too superficial. In an article in the American Yoga Journal, Ann Cushman makes the case for the importance of asana practice. But then, she then goes on to say that when students become more serious about practicing, they need to take on some of the other instruments in the yogic toolkit.

These practices, Cushman says, will bring us to the point of yoga practice:

…to come into direct, unflinching contact with our own unruly and ever-changing minds, our fragile and impermanent bodies.

So, I’m thinking a practice for Shambala that has what I consider to be the important yogic elements is the way to go. I’ll do my best to include several levels: physical (balancing poses), philosophy (Patanjali’s sutra), pratyahara (quieting senses) and pranayama (breath awareness).

Cultivating balance in asana practice

Here’s a practice I like to teach. It’s easy to reference Patanjali’s first three sutras in this practice. A generous relaxation, followed by pranayama and sitting is greatly appreciated by students.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Poster of line drawn yoga poses