Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn.

 Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn.

Sometimes the students inspire me so much! This student came to my class on Sunday afternoon in Fuzhou. She worked so hard! She listened to everything I was saying and paid such close attention to my cues. And she tried so many advanced poses and variations, even though many of them were out of reach. I was so proud of her. And the whole time she smiled and even laughed a few times when she fell out of some of the more challenging poses. I love teaching students like this. They are so easy to teach. No ego. So much light. The irony is that these students are already practicing so much of what we are teaching in yoga. They don’t need the practice as much as some of the students who are the hardest to teach. Sometimes students are rude and disrespectful and don’t pay attention and don’t listen. It’s hard to teach these students. Their mind is closed off. But really they need the practice most of all. Master teacher, Krishnamacharya has a famous quote about only wanting to teach the beginners and the really advanced students because they both know that they don’t know anything. He said the ones in the middle, the students with a little bit of knowledge who think they know everything are the hardest to teach. Keep your mind open. Listen. There’s so much to learn. Be a good student. Learn as much as you can from the teacher. Are you done learning? Is there no more room for growth? Really? You’ve got it all figured out? There is so much more to learn. You just have to stay open.

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Control Your Breath, Control Your Mind.

Control Your Breath, Control Your Mind.

The breath is so important in a physical yoga practice. The yogis say, “if you can control your breath, you can control your mind.” Breathe deeply. Breathe down into the belly. This is called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathe into the side ribs. This is called costal breathing. Yogic breathing is often described as a combination of these two types of breathing. You want your breath to be long and slow. But you don’t want to fill the lungs so much that the collar bones lift and the upper chest lifts up towards the neck. This is called clavicular breathing. It is not recommended during your yoga practice. It stimulates the nervous system and is usually only used when the body is starving for oxygen. Breathe in and out through the nose. Let the breath lead you into the movement in your practice. Let the body follow the breath. Krishnamacharya says, “Let the breath be the Guru and the body be the disciple.” Ujjayi pranayama is very balancing. It can be performed in any asana. The Ujjayi pranayama is used to control the breath and slow it down. We can’t control the breath at the nostrils without using our fingers. But we can control the breath by constructing the throat muscles, as if we are sipping the breath through a tiny straw.

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