It’s about the spine, stupid!

We all used to be nothing but a spine. The spine split to form arms, legs and a head in order to express itself. It is very clear when you look at evolutionary and embryonic development. It’s no different for a human being, a rabbit or a lizard. We all used to be just spines. And our spines still seek expression.

This is one of the astonishingly simple insights Matthew Sanford brought to me in his workshop last November. It took me some time and a lot of practice to be able to condense what I learned into my teaching and writing.

extraordinary teacher

Matthew Sanford is an extraordinary yoga teacher. Of course, it is quite extraordinary that he teaches Iyengar yoga while he is paralysed from the chest down. And ordinary yoga teachers are not all great storytellers and don’t generally write breathtakingly beautiful books. But to me, those are not his main characteristics. To me he is a teacher that opens doors and puts things into perspective in a way that only extraordinary yoga teachers can. This year was the third time I went to London to take his workshops and each year he has brought me clarity about what I almost understood before.

This time I participated in a workshop for teachers who want to teach adaptive yoga. When you are teaching a basic level asana class to the general public, you can sort of get away with giving a running commentary to the outward shape of the poses. But if you want to share yoga asana with people with different physical or mental challenges, you can’t solely rely on the position of body parts in space or referring to use of muscles. You have to search for deeper layers and general aspects of the asanas in order to figure out new ways to share what you know. What struck me is how similar this is to teaching on a ‘higher level of certification’ (as we have in the Iyengar system), or to students with more experience. You have to open your eyes to observe in a more subtle way, and dig deeper to find more subtle layers to touch on with your teaching.

make shit up

Matthew has lost the more overt connections between his brain and the paralysed part of his body, which has forced him to pursue the more subtle connections without the ‘distractions’ that are presented to a non-paralyzed person. This has elicited a creativity and inventiveness that makes his teaching a tremendous source of insight for every student. During the two days he took us through some general principles and gave us practical ways to teach them. But his main motto was: ‘be creative: make shit up!’. We have to practice, find out about the connections between our own body and mind, and – as mr. Iyengar says – go from the gross to the subtle levels in our own practice before you can teach in a more subtle way.  And in that same way we have to work alongside our students – whether they are more or less able-bodied. Be there next to them with a receptive mind, curiosity and willingness to learn. We have to be open to surprise and wonder. Matthew Sanford is a great example of those qualities – and at least I can say I’m inspired.

Practising the scales with Christian Pisano

If it is possible to judge a teacher by his students, I was sure Christian Pisano would be an amazing teacher. Having met and practiced with a group of his students, as well as his lovely wife June in Pune in 2010, I expected to like their teacher. Their practices were great, well-balanced, and they were overall very nice people. So I came to Yoga Moves with high expectations. And, to take away the suspense: he didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately June was in India so she couldn’t join him – I would have loved to meet her again. But it was great to see a big Iyengar crowd gathered in Utrecht for the first time on 13 and 14 October.

Back to basics

The practices we did during the weekend were wonderfully simple. Maybe less physically challenging than some people would have expected, but with great attention to detail and a sound philosophical grounding. The title of the workshop was Preliminaries of Iyengar Yoga and that’s exactly what we did. Christian took us back to the base, and back to the breath. He stressed the importance of the introduction, in order to be able to see the background, the reason of coming to workshops like this. He told us that as practitioners, the practice can be difficult and sometimes lonely. Going to a workshop or a retreat can bring clarification of our practice of asana and pranayama in their context – and the context is yoga. He also emphasised starting at the beginning, ‘practicing the scales’, and going through the stages of asana practice one by one.

Vinyasa, vinyasa krama, viniyoga

These stages are referred to by the terms vinyasa, vinyasa krama and viniyoga. Vinyasa refers to the way we enter and exit a pose, moving in a deliberate way, and taking the breath into account. Vinyasa krama then, refers to the sequence of poses. We have to pay attention to the starting point, how to move into, stay in and come out of a posture in accordance with the breath, as well as the gradual flow of postures synchronised with the breath, and the unfolding of variations, modifications and intensifications of postures.

Mr. Iyengar often likens sequencing to making a garland of poses, stringing them together by the thread of consciousness. Sequencing one pose after the other gives the poses a richness and meaning that transcends the meaning and effect of a single pose.

Viniyoga, finally, is the application of means or techniques adapted to the individual needs at the moment of practice. Viniyoga is a Sanskrit term that implies differentiation, adaptation, and appropriate application. So in practice this means for both student and teacher, finding what is needed at this specific moment is an art, and never-ending process.

In the workshop, Christian not only talked about these concepts but also let us materialise them in our practice.

Emphasis on spaciousness

“Read the contraction you meet” is perhaps the phrase that stuck with me most. The goal of asana and pranayama is not just the physical exertion, or even the healing practice. Through these practices of the body and mind, we get to know that we are not the the body, nor the mind. At the same time, the body is an expression of the universe, and the universe is an extension of the body. That is why learning to read the body and mind is important. It is the start of all knowledge. If in the study of body and mind you meet a ‘contraction’, for instance physical tension, or mental aversion, Christian invites  you ‘read’ it. Finding out where it comes from, what it means, is more important than making it go away or deepening it.

Options for everyone

Closing and opening the days with quotes from the Vijnana Bhairava, Christian effectively drew the philosophic backdrop to the asana practice. For instance, he read the following sloka as an introduction to the concept of spaciousness or vacuity in relation to yoga asana.

The yogi should contemplate over the skin-part in his body like (an outer, inconscient) wall.
“There is nothing substantial inside it (i.e. the skin)”;
meditating like this, he reaches a state which transcends all things meditable.

-Vijnana Bhairava verse 48 (read the Vijnana Bhairava online here.)

We had the chance to read our contractions in a broad range of postures from basic standing asanas through twists and a long restorative session, and even in padmasana in sirsasana – for those that had the ability, of course. Both in the philosophic readings and in the asana and pranayama practice, Christian offered options for all levels of students.

We were very grateful to have this opportunity to study with him, and hope to see him back in Utrecht!

Further contemplation

The balance between philosophic study of texts and the applied practice of yoga is always a delicate one. Some people feel like ‘stop the babbling, lets get on the mat’, while others struggle to become concrete and get lost in theory. I think it helps to see other people’s experiences, even (or perhaps, especially) when they’re not coming from a yoga perspective. On the subject of the need to study our body and mind to realize that they do not define ‘us’, see this moving video of a woman who realises that she is not defined by her body. It becomes clear here how enormous the gap is between the intellectual concept, and the profundity of the actual realisation that we are not our bodies. Of course it’s not quite the same as Janine Shepherd’s story that’s shown in the video on the right.

Now, the concept of not being our mind is even harder to realise, and breathtakingly illustrated in the next video: Jill Bolte Taylors Stroke of Insight… I know this has been shown very often already but it’s still so worth watching.

Take a breath

Breath is a very simple and natural process. Such a simple thing – how could you possibly get it wrong? Everybody does it, all the time. You can’t ‘forget’ about breathing because obviously, you’d die. The tricky thing is, though, that breathing is controlled both consciously and unconsciously. Conscious breath control is applied in pranayama (Sanskrit: prana = life, or the ‘life force’, in this case loosely translated as breath, and yama means control or discipline) and some forms in meditation, but also in training of swimmers or singers. Even talking requires a conscious control of the breath.
Unconscious respiration

The unconscious processes of the body, like the digestive or hormonal systems, are not controlled by willpower. Also the unconscious respiration proces is not controlled by willpower, but by parts of the brain that react to chemical factors like the level of carbon dioxide in the blood. These reflexes adapt your breath pattern to the circumstances – for instance, while excercising, the level of carbon dioxide increases. This triggers a series of biochemical reactions which ultimately cause a higher level of respiration. And during rest, the level of carbon dioxide lowers again so the need to breathe rapidly is decreased appropriately. These biochemical processes also prevent you to die from holding your breath – when the carbon dioxide levels become too high you will lose consciousness and the breath reflexes take over again.

So the human body seems to be well adapted for unconscious breathing. Why do people put so much effort into developing breathing techniques and exercises? Well. It seems that interactions between the conscious and unconscious respiratory processes do not only occur in case of toddlers holding their breath until they faint. Adults also mess with their breath. Only they don’t do it on purpose.

“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Breathing rates

A healthy breathing rate in rest is somewhere in between 6 and 10 breaths a minute (although opinions vary widely). During exercise, the breathing rate increases to up to 40 breaths per minute. For endurance sports like running or cycling, 20 to 30 breaths per minute is quite high – just try to inhale-exhale-inhale on each second for a minute and see how that makes you feel (= 30 breaths per minute). Of course, as described above, breathing faster if necessary is no problem at all. Your body responds adequately to the increased level of carbon dioxide that needs to be expelled and the need for oxygenated blood to keep your muscles working. So far, so good.

However, it turns out that for many people, this interaction between respiratory rate and physical activity is disturbed. People that are stressed out, emotional or even just unaware, often breathe with the rate as if they were cycling against the wind, without being aware of doing so. No wonder their heart rates are high, their entire nervous systems are in full fight-or-flight mode, and they are too tired to fall asleep at night.

‘Quietly’ sitting in a chair, millions of Dutchmen pretend to be in danger. In a dangerous situation, the body is fully prepared for action with a high heart rate, a lot of adrenaline – and for this book the most important thing – a heightened respiratory rate.  When you are breathing too fast you use a lot of energy, and continuous rapid breathing leads to many physical complaints.

- from ‘Verademing’ by Bram Bakker and Koen de Jong

(translation is mine and so are all mistakes)

Change your mind: start with the breath

There is a direct relation between the breath, the body and the mind. A change in any one of these aspects will bring about a change in the others. The nervous or hormonal system are not powers that can be changed at will, as we have seen above. To train the mind into non-stressed behaviour is a process of years and variable success, as any meditator can tell you. So taking your chances with some breathing exercises might be your best bet. Yoga practice can help you to increase your postural awareness and train your ‘breathing muscles‘, as well as give you more breath awareness and breathing techniques.

It is interesting to see that also outside of yoga, people are working with the breath. In the Netherlands, Bram Bakker and Koen de Jong wrote a book called Verademing (translated as Respite but the ambiguity is sadly lost), in wich they describe a lot of the problems that can follow from breathing too fast. They also give solutions, in a very clearly written and accessible form. One of them is a very simple breathing exercise:

  1. inhale, counting the seconds
  2. exhale for twice as long as you’ve inhaled. After the exhalation, pause for as long as you inhaled.
  3. repeat for 10 minutes

Or, you can start with just one breath.

 

Happy handstands

A google-image search for ‘handstand’ clearly shows the archetypical quality of this pose: the pure joy of standing on your hands. Apart from the possible benefits of being upside-down, arm balances seem to give something extra. When you can do them, they’re fun! But why is that?

Standing on your hands is a play with gravity. An expression of balance and strength. Swooping your legs over your head to jump up is of a childlike playfulness, and even if you don’t succeed, gives a rush. Being in a totally opposite position from day-to-day life requires you to be fully present. Handstand requires balance; not just in the literal sense of balancing away from the wall, but also the balance between control and letting go. Control over the strength of your legs, the stability in your arms and shoulders, and control over the core muscles (especially when you’re trying to jump up with both legs together). But also letting go of fear, letting your feet get over your head, and letting go of your normal perspective. It’s hard to know what up and what’s down, what’s forwards and backwards.

On a more philosophical note, overcoming the fear complex, as Geeta Iyengar often calls it, is a powerful tool in self-exploration. And jumping up to balance on your hands certainly requires fearlessness.

Handstands have a distinctive un-adult-like quality. Many of our students remember being fond of handstand as a child, but when they attempt to jump up years later, they are surprised by their own fear. Childlike innocence, as our respected teacher Charles Hond used to say, is lost in adulthood and replaced by fear. Fear of falling on your head, banging your head against the wall, fear of your arms not being strong enough to carry you, or fear of breaking your shoulders or hurting your back. All of those fears are not completely ridiculous, of course, but in reality doing a handstand is not a lot more crazy and dangerous than driving a car along a freeway at 130 km/h.

Some fears in life are justified, and some are harmful. Having the clarity of mind to know which one is which comes in handy, because unnecessary fears can eat up a lot of our energy. Patanjali, the author of the ancient Yoga Sutras, defines fivekleshas or afflictions that affect the mind and stand in the way of spiritual freedom. The fifth one he identifies is abhinivesha - the fear of death or clinging to life. He identifies this as the root of all fears. Patanjali also tells us that overcoming these kleshas can be done through tapas (disciplined effort), svadhyaya (self-analysis) and ishwara pranidhana (surrender).

Handstand, for many people, is a great example of how a yoga asana can challenge you to find your edge, observe and overcome your fear. Handstand is your fear laboratory, because the fears that come up in handstand are unlikely to be justified. Granted, you may hit the wall a little too hard in the beginning or even fall over, but there is relatively little ‘real’ danger – unlike in traffic, for example.

By continuous and disciplined effort you can learn how to jump up in handstand. Overcoming the fears that come up can take you to a place of self-confidence and strength. And if you do this consciously and observe yourself through this learning process, this experience can help you to overcome other fears you will encounter in your life. Eventually, getting upside-down is all about surrender, and trust that in the end you will get back on your feet.

Of course, for some people handstand comes easily – so they might find their edge in other poses. In the silence of long forward bends, for instance. Everybody knows the poses that bring up their edge. And that’s where it becomes interesting.

But this post is about handstands. So here’s a bit of inspiration, and I hope you try at least one handstand today! And tell us how it was.

Yogi on the run

I live in two worlds. The world of runners, where shoes, GPS-devices and times per kilometer are subject of lengthy discussions. And the world of yogis, where dinner-talk consists of exchanging class reviews, how the tailbone can actually! Move! In! and babble about how this visiting senior teacher taught baddha konasana leaning back.

Both worlds seem to be slightly suspicious of each other. The yogis have a hard time fathoming how I can run and not get stiff legs. The runners look at me bending forward during after-run stretching and smirk at my ability to not only reach beyond my knees, but even touch the floor with my hands.

Yogis are worried about my knees – how can they take the pounding of running 30k?

And runners… well, they worry about my knees as well. How can they take a pose like supta virasana or padmasana and not be broken?

Meanwhile, I need both. Not only does my yoga practice keep me flexible and strong enough to sustain my running, it also gives me more insight in my own behavioural patterns – both on the physical side as well as the mental side of things. My practice tells me when my left hip is pulling again before it results in pain. It teaches me to stand tall on my legs and use my core. And it tells me when I’m tired and need rest.

It teaches me to hang on and deal with fear. The fear of pain during a long run. The fear of falling out of inversions. Of getting out of breath. The fear of actually succeeding in something, a pose, or a run, and not being able to hide behind external factors anymore. It teaches me to quietly listen to my inner choir of critics who tell me that I can’t do this, I will surely injure myself, it’s too cold/hot/rainy/windy to go out on a run, I can’t stay in this pose any longer. Listen, without responding. And let the critics fight their battles until they become silent.

On the other hand, my running teaches me things about my yoga practice. Going outside to run, never mind the weather, makes me feel more able to deal with whatever is ‘out there’ as well as with what is inside of me. It makes me feel more in tune with the world – the space around me – never mind if it’s speed work in the city or a long slow and sweaty run through the glorious summer countryside. Snow-coated landscapes or steamy canals in the rain. It teaches me that all circumstances are actually okay, once you just stop fighting them.

Many yogis will say that yoga is actually the only thing they need to stay fit. Runners will say the same about running. But I’m a Jack of two trades… I see the beauty in both and alternating between the two helps me not to become too attached to the results of either one.

Now, if that isn’t yoga, I don’t know what is!

Get upside-down!

‘Can you stand on your head?’ must be one of the most frequently asked questions when people discover I do yoga. Inversions possess an iconic quality and speak to the imagination. And yes. Yes, I do stand on my head. And my hands, forearms and shoulders. Almost daily. I love inversions, they are fun to do and they make me feel really good. But why?

scientific evidence

Looking at scientific research is not very helpful at this time – there have not been many studies to the physiological and physical, let alone to the mental or psychological effects of a regular inversion practice, and the few studies that have been conducted often lack in significant results. Does that mean, then, that inversions are nonsensical? Or is it just an indication of how little research has been done in this field? With some educated reasoning and expert opinions, I have tried to outline the possible benefits of a practice of inversions here.

A word of caution though: it is always best to learn inversions under the guidance of an expert teacher. And when you are new to yoga, don’t be in a hurry! Inversions take time to learn – and being able to get up into a headstand, for example, doesn’t mean you can immediately *do* the pose; it mainly means you have reached your starting point to learn the pose. If you start doing too much, too soon, chances of injury are very real.

Zero gravity

In the Netherlands, we’ve recently been flooded with news about Dutch astronaut André Kuipers who spent 6 months in the International Space Station. The devastating effects of zero gravity were clearly visible in the footage of the return of the astronauts in July 2012: the strong, fit astronauts had to be carried out of their vessel, and had trouble walking even weeks later. Loss of muscle mass and strength, and decreased bone density are the most eye-catching results of prolonged exposure to a zero-gravity situation. But since our cardiovascular circulation is also dependant on gravity, being in a zero-gravity environment will lead to blood-pooling in the chest and head and the extremities will have poor circulation. This goes to show that our circulatory system has evolved to work with gravity and has trouble functioning without it.

defying gravity – improved cardiovascular circulation

Some side-effects of gravity, however, are not so beneficial. It takes a lot of work from the vascular system to deliver oxygen-rich blood to the parts of the system that are above the pump (the heart) and also to retrieve blood from the lower parts of the body (think: varicose veins). Being upright for most of the day does take its toll. This is also one of the reasons why people with diseases or injuries are often encouraged to lie down – it reduces stress on the vascular system. It’s not a huge stretch to think that turning upside-down could also mitigate the effects of gravity on your circulatory system.

The cardio-vascular system might benefit from short periods of inversion, since circulation towards the head, heart and lungs is more efficient that way. It may temporarily lower your blood pressure and heart rate. David Coulter, author of Anatomy of Hatha Yoga writes in a 1992 Yoga International article on Headstand and the circulatory system “If you can remain in an inverted posture for just 3 to 5 minutes, the blood will not only drain quickly to the heart, but tissue fluids will flow more efficiently into the veins and lymph channels of the lower extremities and of the abdominal and pelvic organs, facilitating a healthier exchange of nutrients and wastes between cells and capillaries.”

Inversions also may improve circulation within your lungs. Being upright for lengthy periods saturates the lower parts of the lungs with blood, but inverting will ventilate the upper parts of the lungs, thereby promoting a more even oxygen-to-blood exchange and improving the quality of your lung tissue.

lymphatic system benefits

The lymphatic system could be positively influenced by inversions. This system is responsible for waste removal, fluid balance and immune system response. Lymph vessels transport proteins, fats, waste materials and extra fluids from tissues through lymph nodes and to the bloodstream. The lymph nodes produce immune cells to help the body combat infection, and filter the lymph fluid, removing foreign material such as bacteria and cancer cells. The lymphatic system does not have a pump, like the vascular system. It is dependant on muscular movement and gravity to move the lymph through the system. s a closed pressure system that has one-way valves (like the vascular system) that keeps lymph moving towards the heart. And when one turns upside down the pull of gravity helps to stimulate the lymph system. This is for instance why swollen ankles benefit from taking your feet up.

relieve stress on spine and muscles

There is some much quoted evidence from a study by L.J. Nosse indicating that spinal length increases and tension in superficial lumbar area musculature decreases with inversions. The pull of gravity will not only affect your circulatory systems, but also compresses the spine and taxes the muscles responsible for maintaining your upright posture into rigidity. Inversions, and in particular assisted inversions such as hanging upside down with ropes around your pelvis, will help your spine to decompress and the muscles surrounding the spine to let go.

calm the nervous system

Many people report on feeling a sense of calm and clarity when they come out of an inverted pose, especially headstand. This might have something to do with the increase of blood flow to the brain. Assumptions on how inversions create a base-line opening of blood vessels, making them more efficient at dilating and constricting to efficiently shunt blood to the active areas of the brain, have been made since the 1970′s and have since neither been proven nor invalidated.

endocrine system

Often, claims are made about the effect of inversions, shoulderstand in particular, on the hormonal system (especially through stimulation of the pituitary gland and thyroid by increasing the blood flow to those glands). There is not much scientific evidence for these claims, however on a case-by-case basis  yoga teachers report great progress in their work with women who suffer from problems around their menstrual cycle, menopause or fertility. Geeta Iyengar especially has done ground-breaking work on the application of yoga-asanas for women in different states of their life and a growing number of scientists are researching these subjects. However, so far none are focusing on the subject of inversions in relation to the hormonal system.

improve balance

In general, most of the claims above pertain to a form of balance, or homeostasis, in the various systems of the human body. Simply the act of balancing upside-down requires strength in the core muscles, great body awareness, and a fine-tuning of the way muscles are working together to stabilise all the joints. So to say, in general, that inversions improve balance is not too much of a gamble.

finally

While all the effects above might be scientifically likely benefits of inversions, many practitioners report other benefits, like better sleep and strong effects on the digestive system. Also, any activity that requires mindfulness and concentration, like balancing for a number of minutes in headstand, can improve your focus, and brighten up your mood. Doing things that give you the thrill of conquering your own fears, like jumping up into handstand, will give you a feeling of strength that transcends the physical level.

Plus, it’s fun ;-)

caution

People suffering from high blood pressure, detached retina, glaucoma, hernias, cardiovascular disease, cervical spondylitis, slipped discs, trombosis, arteriosclerosis, and kidney problems should refrain from practicing headstand and shoulderstand. Those suffering from neck injuries should seek advice from an experienced yoga teacher before beginning to practice headstand. It is advisable for women during menstruation to avoid inversions.

resources

  • Light on Yoga - BKS Iyengar
  • Yoga: A Gem for Women - Geeta S. Iyengar
  • Iyengar Yoga for Motherhood – Geeta S. Iyengar, Rita Keller & Kerstin Khattab
  • Yoga: a Path To Holistic Health - BKS Iyengar
  • Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness - Erich Schiffmann
  • Anatomy of Hatha Yoga – David Coulter

 

Adjusting the brain

“If your body can do more and you do not do it, that is unethical practice. Ethical discipline of the asana is when you extend correctly, evenly and to the maximum. The brain is the hardest part of the body to adjust in asanas. If the brain is silent but attentive while performing asanas, your practice is nonviolent.” -B.K.S. Iyengar

This is an interesting quote, isn’t it? Doing asana isn’t the hardest part. But doing your best and knowing and seeing yourself for what you are, knowing your own potential and your limits, that’s the hurdle to take. Listening to the ‘chatter’ that goes on inside and not letting it lead you away from your full potential (“this pose is so hard, I can’t do it. And I’m pretty tired actually. Or do I need to work harder? Pushpushpush… wait. Ouch. Is that a ‘good pain’ or a ‘bad pain’? This pose is so hard…”).

Finding that balance between practice and ‘letting go of the results’ is a key passage in one of the central texts in yoga philosophy, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Patanjali says ‘practice and detachment are the means to still the movements of the mind’. Practice is the serious and steady repeated effort towards a goal. Practice can also refer to the first four limbs of the ‘ashtanga’, the eightfold path of yoga: yama (how to relate yourself to the world), niyama (how to relate to yourself), asana and pranayama.

Detachment refers to the process of disengaging oneself from the results of practice. The brain often wants to identify with what comes out of your practice – it has a need to feel either successful or unsuccessful, to compare itself to others, or to live either in the past or in the future. If you identify yourself too much with what comes out of your practice, it will only lead you away from true insight into who you really are. The last four limbs of the ‘ashtanga’ will lead you to this consolidation: turning inward of the senses, concentration, meditation and finally enlightenment.

But of course, the two need to be balanced. You need to discern the right actions from the wrong ones. Too much detachment can leave you paralysed and lethargic, unable to do anything. Too much practice will leave you tired, injured, empty and frustrated. The ability to see the truth in your process, to adjust the brain instead of just the body, is the real challenge.

Make time for yoga

When your schedule is full, is when you need yoga the most. You need clarity in your mind and relaxation in your body. But… people and tasks are pulling at you from all directions. Choosing for your yoga practice might seem like a selfish choice. However, if you choose to be for a few minutes, instead of just do, and to live instead of just work, it might make the rest of your day much easier. It’s just a question of priorities!

Having a few minutes of practice at home might make it easier to choose for your ‘reset-time’, if coming to a class is hard to work into your schedule. You can use what you’ve learned at your classes for your own practice, or take a book, dvd or youtube-video to inspire you. But remember that your own practice doesn’t necessarily need to be a copy of a group class – it can be shorter or longer, you can focus on a specific pose or group of poses or do a general sequence… do an active practice or relax in restorative poses. You can practice alone, with a friend or surrounded by your family, pets or kids. It can be the same thing every day or something completely different each time you hit your mat.

It’s yours, own it!