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2016 Kiss My Asana #21: The “Yes, and….” Sādhaka February 23, 2016

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Changing Perspectives, Confessions, Dharma, Donate, Faith, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma, Karma Yoga, Life, Men, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Music, One Hoop, Peace, Philosophy, Science, Twin Cities, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Improv is an art. However, it is also a craft. A craft is something that is learned through practice, repetition, trial, error and hard work. Much like any other art, skill in improv is acquired over time. The more time spent improv-ing the greater the improvement (pun intended).”

– Excerpt from Rules of Improv Part I by David Alger (Pan Theater)


Yoga is as much an art as it is a science; as much theory as practical application (i.e., craft). Every once in a while, a yogi walks in and is clearly open to all these different aspects of the practice. Seemingly ready for anything…fearless, like a jazz virtuoso or an improv king, these people walk in with a “yes, and…” attitude. They create the moment, stay in the moment, and keep adding information that allows movement into the next moment. On the outside, this go-with-the-flow attitude can be deceptive, because it’s not that such a person can do everything right off the bat; it’s not that they are the Superman or Superwoman of yoga. It’s that yogis like Tyler (Yogi #21) are willing to give it a try. Scratch that…Yogis like Tyler are willing to skillfully give it a practice.


“Practice, practice, practice. All is coming.”

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois


Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyāsa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriyā, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sādhanā, abhyāsa, and kriyā all mean one and the same thing. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies…mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.”

– Excerpt from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B. K. S. Iyengar


Pattabhi Jois and B. K. S. Iyengar started practicing with T. Krishnamacharya in 1927 and 1934, respectively. Each would go on to expose the Western world to a physical yoga practice that can (in our modern experience) seem very different on the outside: one (Ashtanga) involving the ability to flow with the breath and the other (Iyengar) involving alignment principles which enable a practitioner to focus on the breath. Practicing one can enhance the experience of the other. In fact, some vinyasa teachers even encourage a regular Iyengar practice. But, ultimately, the thing to remember about different physical yoga practices is that the foundations supporting each practice are essentially the same.

Jois’s famous words above could just as easily be, “Abhyāsa, Sādhanā, Kriyā. Yoga (union) is coming.” Every non-translated Sanskrit word in the above Iyengar quote could just as easily be replaced with the English word “practice.” Do we lose something in the translation? Maybe. Or, perhaps such word-play reminds us that in outlining the philosophy of yoga Patanjali devoted a whole chapter to ways to practice – and two out of four chapters are devoted to what happens when you practice!

 “Are you practicing?”

– David Swenson, on the cover of his Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual


A few summers ago, when I was getting ready for my rooftop classes, I noticed the David Swenson quote above – and it got me thinking: Sometimes it’s not only “Are you practicing?” Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, “What are you practicing?”

If you know what you’re seeing, you can pick up on what type of yoga a person already practices. You can also notice, for instance, that they have a regular seated meditation, tai chi, martial arts, or gymnastics practice. It’s a fascinating exercise in physical tendencies. But, as a teacher, I’m also fascinated by how many people spend their time on the mat practicing their asana/seat (vs. their toe picking); their drishti/focus (vs. their clock-watching); their pranayama/awareness of breath (vs. their habit of holding the breath/not breathing when things get exciting/challenging), and their possibilities (vs. their limitations).

One thing I’ve noticed about Tyler in the short time he’s been practicing in the Twin Cities is that he seems to consistently practice acceptance, gratitude, and joy. Not surprisingly, given where he comes from, he reminds me of a story about the guy who started going to Yoga To The People and telling each teacher that he had had the best class ever!


So, it wasn’t something cute to say at the end of class. What I discovered, over the next couple of months, was…he would get up and authentically, genuinely, have loved the experience, that he created for himself…. When was the last time you created the greatest class – that wasn’t predicated by the teacher? That wasn’t predicated by the sequence? It wasn’t even predicated on what you could do and not do – But the essence that you create for yourself is this really great class. So, my invitation to you today, is to make this the greatest class you ever had.”

Yoga To The People teacher telling “Brian’s” story at the beginning of Podcast 2


 “Each practice session is a journey. Endeavor to move with awareness and enjoy the practice. Allow it to unfold as a flower opens. There is no benefit in hurrying. Yoga grows with time. Some days are easy and the mind is calm and the physical body is light and responsive. Other days you may find that the mind is running wild and the body feels like wet cement. We must breathe deeply and remain detached. Asanas are not the goal. They are a vehicle to access a deeper internal awareness.”

– Excerpt from Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual by David Swenson

Like me, and several other yogis in our midst, Tyler is a transplant who wandered into the studio and promptly made himself at home. It’s exciting to move to a new place, to find a new part of your tribe, and to be full of hope and potential. But, making yourself at home on (and off) the mat involves making yourself at home in your own mind-body. In this world that moves fast and focuses on perfection, it is easy to get disconnected from our true selves. It is easy to forget we are connected to each other. It is all too easy to lose hope. Mind Body Solutions is on a mission to reconnect us to our hope and to our potential.

Every time I inhale, every time I exhale, I’m inviting you to be part of my KISS MY ASANA tribe! Every time I inhale, every time I exhale, I’m inviting you to dwell in possibilities, and remember we are all one!

Want to KISS MY ASANA while you practice? Contact Myra at a joyfulpractice.com to reserve a spot (or two) at a donation-based class on Saturday, February 27th (3:30 - 5:30 PM) or Saturday, March 5th (6:30 - 8:00 PM). Space is limited.




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