February 2019: On Sitting


Today, 7am, from 22 February 2019

The word asana, usually translated as posture, literally means seat. We do all we do on the mat to learn to sit still for a long period of time, in order to practice pranayama, breath control), dharana (one-pointed focus of the mind) and dyana (meditation).In our Western Culture, we sit a lot, most of us constantly, in offices, cars and sofas, but this does not mean that we know how to do it in a nourishing way. In fact, a lot of our pain and tightness comes from these seats, and their props, the chair. But the seat is more than the physical form we take. It is also our place in the world, where we locate ourselves at any given moment, the roles we take as teachers, students, workers, mothers … These are seats too, and they should be taken responsibly and with grace.Each seat we take needs to, first and foremost, invite the breath. This breath is what keeps us alive and well, allows us to think, to heal, to pause, and to energise. A steady seat also increases focus and awareness. Don’t let your seat get passive, slump, or give you backache!

Laura x

PS. I have a new website, beautifully designed by Neil Scott, which combines my artwork, my writing and my yoga. Have a look and let me know what you think!

What I have been reading
Ashtanga Yoga is a discipline, a practice that aims rather high and, to receive its benefits, requires a certain rigour and commitment. And this can be misunderstood, developing attitudes of hostility, rigidity, arrogance. It is very important to balance these tendencies with humour (yes, why not!) and lightness, to constantly reflect on where we are. The practice itself is very demanding, so no extras need to be added from our attitude to it.I took this article by Sharath Jois, the paramaguru of Ashtanga Yoga, as a call to attention. Too much asana can leads us away from the path of yoga. Aside from the injuries it might cause to the body, it may also dull the senses, the judgement, lead to attachment to the practice, to craving and to the inability to sit still and see clearly. Asana is just one part of a sadhana, the techniques we have chosen to grow spiritually. But we must not forget we are on a path towards sitting and stillness. Is your asana helping you to cultivate a steady and comfortable seat, or making you restless and grasping?
What I have been listening to
I have practiced sitting with Yotam and his Winter Solstice Meditation in Paris. It is just ten minutes long, with a surprising soundscape that kept my mind alert and focused. Yotam’s work is definitely not what you get from most meditation tracks. I find it much more in tune with what I experience in my day-to-day, but beautiful mixed so as to bring awareness to it. As a special bonus, it was particularly nice for me to listen to my teacher Kia’s voice.
What I have been practicing
In advance of my August pranayama immersion course with Sudhir Tiwari, I have been paying attention to this aspect of my practice and to my seat. I have been exploring longer seats in poses that, according to Gregor Maehle (in his wonderful book on Pranayama), are the most stable and conducive to the breath. These are:Padmasana (lotus pose). Make sure you get into it safely, as the knees are very vulnerable.
* Siddhasana (accomplished pose, a wide cross-legged seat with the feet tucked between the thighs and calves)
* Swastikasana (auspicious pose, tighter than Siddhasana, so less strenuous on the hips)

* Virasana (hero pose, legs bent with feet behind you, sitting on a block, if lower is uncomfortable)

None of these seats are easy after a while. In fact, they are not that simple to get into unless practice is relatively advanced and hips are open.  To calm and still my body and my mind in these postures, my asana work has been key, as has been thinking about my seats in day-to-day life, when I rest, work, teach yoga or write this.Is your seat unbalancing you? Do you have a specific pattern of sitting that ignores parts of your body? Is your seat helping you gain focus and awareness to accomplish your work?

at the Arlington Baths
Tuesday 26 March 2019
Tuesday 26 February 2019
17.00–18.15, £11 | £9, included in all class cards

These classes are for those who are complete pranayama beginners, practitioners who have done pranayama but don’t have a regular practice, or for those who have a yoga or meditation practice and want to delve deeper – all are welcome.

The breath is key to Ashtanga yoga practice. It allows for the deepening of postures and enhances their benefits. Each session will develop the tools and techniques required to help you set, refine and sustain an individual pranayama practice.

During these sessions you will:
* Learn about the breath – to observe it, to follow it and to enhance it
* Learn to deepen your breath, allowing you to become more aware and mindful, calm and focused
* Learn preparations and purification techniques that will help to boost the benefits of pranayama
* Learn more about how this practice relates to the Ashtanga yoga system.

Arlington Baths open classes
61 Arlington St, Glasgow G3 6DT
Rosina Bonsu’s programmeJanuary–March 2019
Tuesdays 18.15–20.30 Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore)
Thursdays 7.45–9.30 Assisted Self-Practice (Mysore)
£11 | £9, included all class cards
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
for staff and students only
Join the RCS Sport Facebook pageJanuary–March 2019
Wednesdays 18.00–19.00: Ashtanga Yoga
Fridays 13.00–14.00: Ashtanga Yoga

£3 per class | £10 for 4 classes