Supported, Grounded, and Stable – Part Two of Three
by Megan Cederbaum
Please read Part One to understand where this picks up:
The instructor, Kathy Jamison, was extremely inviting and personable; I immediately liked her. Kathy has a warm and gentle voice, which I found very relaxing. Before class actually began, she asked if anyone was new and I raised my hand. All eyes were on me now! I introduced myself and explained why I was here; each person seemed happy that I’d be sharing my experience with Vets through STW and this blog.
Class began and Kathy taught everything one step at a time. She was very helpful in making sure I knew how to do all the poses (asana in Sanskrit) safely. In the Gentle class, we practiced a lot of the same postures that are done in more rigorous classes. However, our poses were modified to be gentler on the joints and other body parts, while still helping us strengthen and stretch. I found some postures to be far more challenging than others, and at times I could feel my thighs shaking. But no matter how tough the asana, I felt my mind becoming more at ease as the practice continued. I noticed Kathy repeating an instruction for us to breathe deeply and feel connected to the Earth to help us feel “supported, grounded, and stable,” which I thought was a lesson that could serve everyone every day. It’s important to take a breath and appreciate life. To give you a deeper look into the Gentle Yoga class, here are some of the poses we did:
These poses target different muscle groups and I definitely felt a good stretch in each. We stayed in some postures longer than others, but generally did about three reps per pose. For me, these basic asana were not only new; they definitely stuck with me after leaving the class. If I wanted, I could do them in the comfort of my home! Other poses took me a few tries to get used to, though Kathy is an amazing teacher because she walked around the room to check that everyone was practicing safely. She seemed to make an extra effort to ensure that I, as her newest student, was doing what she asked, and really tasted how yoga works. I found this Gentle class to be a smart choice to begin my experience of the physical and mental benefits of yoga, and it’s probably also terrific for anyone with injuries and/or physical limitations.
Kathy spoke a bit about a teaching from an ancient Indian text called the “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.” She chanted one Sanskrit line from this book throughout the class: “Sthira-sukham asanam,” which means, “Posture is steady and comfortable.” Her singing reminded me of prehistoric times when our ancestors sat in a circle around a fire and chanted together, which immediately brought me back to middle school Social Studies class. However, I quickly realized that this very short phrase holds a lot of deep meaning that’s not only about the postures we were practicing.
As the end of the session approached, Kathy explained we were almost ready for our final relaxation pose, the purpose of which is to physically and mentally rest. She guided us into deep relaxation as she again chanted the Yoga Sutra “Sthira-sukham-asanam.” Here’s what our final relaxation pose looked like:
I’ve learned that Shavasana is considered one of the most important parts of yoga practice, because it’s a chance to allow all the work we just did to seep into our body and take effect. However, before we took the final pose, Kathy instructed us to sit up straight, eyes closed, in silence. We sat like that for what seemed to be a couple of minutes, and only after that we took to our backs with our hands away from our body at a good distance, palms facing up. It’s vital that our palms faced up, which symbolically allowed us to release tension and negative energy. Lying there was very gratifying since I was able to let go of so much of my stress. I was so relaxed that if Kathy didn’t bring us out of the pose soon, I probably would have fallen asleep! TO BE CONTINUED…Please click HERE to read Part Three!
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TFGP Editor – Shari Goodhartz
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