I practice gentle Hatha yoga a few times a week. Guided by a wise instructor, our class moves through various movements, intentionally holding them for fairly long stretches of time. The length of time that we “compress” or hold a pose varies depending on how many yogis are familiar with the pose, what the weather is like-because outside conditions impact the body, or what goals the instructor has for the day’s practice. It is SLOW yoga and we may spend most of our time stretching and preparing the body to settle into a more complex pose toward the end of class. The emphasis is always on going at one’s own pace, listening to the body and practicing in a way that simultaneously extends the body and respects it’s current limits. Often we work on breathing through the compression and then enjoying a deep exhale as we release a pose we’ve held. Even during compression, the emphasis is on opening the body up, creating space and clearing tightness or toxins that have accumulated as a result of being a living being. The release of a challenging stretch feels so good but you don’t get the release without the compression. Once there is openness, the body is free to stretch a little further and move more deeply into the following pose which is rewarding in so many ways.
It reminds me a lot of life.