Abhyasa - Slow and Dedicated Practice

Of all of Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment, the hardest one for me to embody is "Inner Spiral." Of the seven loops, it is "Kidney Loop," and this seems to be the case with many other practitioners as well. We are all students seeking to embody these principles and unlock their hidden wisdom. But, it is not an easy journey.

Because of spinal degeneration and other physical issues that I have, the integration of both of these principles of alignment are crucial for me - along with their close friends and partners - "Outer Spiral" and "Pelvic Loop."

Just last week, I was chatting with a friend at a social gathering, and sharing with her the details of my summer surgery. She laughed and then said to me, "I can imagine your kundalini is really flowing these days. After all, you had a rock sitting on your snake!"

Hummm.... That certainly gave me pause. No one had quite worded it that way! But, in a way, she was right!

How do we progress in our practice? How do we remove obstacles? We do it through "diligent, focused practice," which is abhyasa. That is how Nicolai Bachman defines this key concept to the Yoga Sutras.

In his book, The Path of the Yoga Sutras: A Practical Guide to the Core of Yoga, he begins the section on abhyasa with this quote:

"Be soft in your practice. Think of the method as fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go on its own way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you."
~ Sheng Yen

Those who have practiced long know that we cannot push the river. We must let it flow. Less is more. We should not practice hard, but soft. It should be slow and diligent. It should be focused, and dedicated. Yes, it is a challenge to make the practice of asana, or meditation seem effortless - like a "fine silvery stream," and not like a "raging waterfall." But if we do so over time, we will see the fruits of our labor.

So it is with the cultivation of "Inner Spiral", coupled with hip openers, which as a category of poses, teaches us to embody this principle so well. But for many of us, to open our hips takes time. We must work at it, but the rewards are many.

Still, we do spiritual practices such as yoga, not for its physical benefits, but for its transformative qualities. Bachman notes:

"Abhyasa can apply to understanding another person. Focusing on that person regularly over time, with sincerity and respect, allows us to truly understand her better. Understanding others helps us understand parts of ourselves..."

This is a wonderful time of year to re-dedicate yourself, or re-connect with with one of your spiritual practices. Or, even begin one. Make it slow. Savor each moment. Listen to what it has to say to you. Do it with focus. With intention, and with diligence. Enter more deeply into this season and the many gifts it brings.


kwajnman said…
I have never been able to feel the loops and spirals. What are the many benefits?
Olga Rasmussen said…
I would really suggest working with an Anusara yoga teacher at the Inspired or certified level. These principles alignment can be very subtle nuances sometimes, but they can take you very deeply into the experience of the practice.

Gleda said…
My Yahweh Yoga Teacher Training was Anusara Inspired. When I completed I "got it", spirls, loops,organic energy, muscular energy etc. THEN a few weeks ago, I attended Wanderlust is Las Vegas with JOHN FRIEND and I REALLY REALLY got it!!! This article was awesome. The more I Practice the Anusara Principles in my practice the more my Body, Mind, and Spirit "get it" ....great article. thanks "Aligning with Grace" aka OLGA
Olga Rasmussen said…
Blessings to you Gleda, and I wish you the best in your practice!

kwajnman said…
I have worked with Anusara teachers and it really didn't help.And I would really know what to look for....
Olga Rasmussen said…
There is a right time, and a right moment for everyone. I had been practicing Anusara for many years before I had my own awakening and connecting experience - and until I met the right teacher who helped me embody the principles.

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