By Coach KB
(If you are new to the POINT Gym and Kitchen blog and want to learn what the Movement Minute Challenge is all about, check out the introductory post here.)
Yoga. Ah, yoga. The ultimate “movement” practice, right? What actually is yoga, anyway? Despite the other seven “limbs” of yoga that exist, we all seem to get caught up in the physical practice of yoga - the asana - the third of eight “limbs” of yoga. Rarely do I hear people say that they want to do yoga to find ethical standards and self-discipline or connect with their breathing and withdraw from their senses or improve their concentration, quiet their minds, and find peace with the interconnectedness of all things. These are the other seven pieces of yoga that exist inextricably alongside the physical postures like downward-facing dog and half-pigeon pose.
I can appreciate that the physical practice opens the door for people to explore all those other vital components. But given that yoga is not actually meant to make people more flexible or have the physically therapeutic effects so many seek, the question is, what are we actually doing in asana? This is exactly the question Matthew Remski asked and was so intrigued by it he started the WAWADIA Project (see if you can guess the acronym).
This brings us to our fifth Movement Minute Challenge. This week my challenge for you is to spend AT LEAST one minute each day in a yoga pose. It doesn’t matter which one you pick - you can pick your favorite or one that you find difficult; if you don’t know any yoga poses just get into a “stretching” position you know that is designed to make you more “flexible.” While you are in that position do not push yourself to feel the “stretch.” (All of these words are in quotation marks because they are words that should not actually be used in the context of how I have used them related to our bodies.) Instead, use that time in stillness to just breathe and feel how your breath moves your body. Resist the urge that we have heard to inhale deeply and go deeper into the stretch on the exhale. If anything, feel the areas of that pose that can make you stronger instead of more flexible.
There are so many challenges that could exist here - the depth of "actual yoga" is infinitely greater than the one minute challenge I have posed here (pun intended). Keep up with the Movement Minute each week to explore new ways of thinking about your movement.
**If you are interested in hearing more from Matthew Remski about What Are We Actually Doing In Asana I highly recommend his interview in Episode 6 of the Liberated Body podcast.