Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's not what you do, it's how you do it that matters.

We've all heard the expression,

It's now what you do, it's how you do it that matters.

Aadil Palkhivala brought this statement to life earlier this week. Aadil is a yoga master and commonly referred to as "the teacher of teachers." He's been practicing yoga with Iyengar since the ripe age of 7 and has taught some the better known teachers today, such as Shiva Rea.

This week he is in Chicago (a mere 2-3 hours depending on traffic from me). So I attended one of his classes/workshops. The title was The Five Vayus in Purna Yoga™ Standing Poses. In this 2 hour standing posture class, there was some lecture, warm up, cool down, and only 4 standing postures. I hadn't noticed how few there were, until later reflection on the class. All of them were done first to the right and then to the left and a couple of them were done twice, but what shocked me was how hard I worked and how my entire body responded. Two days later my butt and legs still feel the effects--which translates as they're sore as hell! Well, the "good" kind of sore. The one that let's you know that you've challenged yourself and grew some muscle tissue.

As I sat on the couch last night I wondered, how after a measly 4 postures (trikonasana/triangle, parsvakonasana/side angle, virabhadrasana I/warrior I, and virabhadrasana II/warrior II) could I feel so much? After all, I do plenty of poses like these--or even these--2 or 3 times a week.

The answer came, "It's not what poses you do, it's how you do them that matters." I'm mindful and breath steady and easfully (like the sutras instruct) through my practice, but what was missing was the "huspa". You know, the oomph! Now I've practiced with plenty of energy in the past, and usually it ends in a lack of awareness and injury. Aadil led us in a different manner.

Here are the two main vayus (winds) that made the biggest difference. First there is apana which relates to the earth element. As you exhale root your legs like rocks heavily connected to the ground. Then inhale with samana vayu. Samana is like fire lifting vibrantly up from the arches in the feet and through the perineum. To keep up with sincerity in awareness of these opposing forces while maintaining a position for about 6 breaths, provides amazing energy and centering to the body. Between postures, pause with the feet together and notice the effects. Notice if your central nadi/channel is humming or more alive than before. Mine sure was.

I can only speak for myself, but using the imagery of earth and fire along with the breath was magical in my body--much more so than simple alignment and mechanical muscular actions.

Best of luck in your practice,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!


Marilyn P. Sushi said...

How timely that I am reading this. Last night I took a class that not only focused on the chakras but on the left and right side of the body, the masculine/feminine, sun/moon, it was all about bringing balance to the physical and mental. And yes, I'm pretty sore too. :)

Great post!

Deborah Rummelhart said...


I have done a variety of types of yoga and eventually settled on Iyengar Yoga, which I have practiced for over 10 years. I believe the great strengths of Iyengar Yoga are that the teachers are very highly trained and tested, and that BKS Iyengar devoted a lot of his time, expertise and genius to developing the therapeutic use of yoga for various physical and mental ailments. I have used Iyengar yoga for stress relief, and also to heal a bad back.

Deborah Rummelhart, author of Where Are My Ankles? How Iyengar Yoga Rescued Me From Stress, Fear and a Very Bad Back. Read sample chapters and get a coupon for a free yoga class honored at 45 yoga studios nationwide at .