I walked with a hunch, slouched when I sat and generally had terrible posture for most of my life. It started to bother me once I started running, simply because it would tire me out. Poor posture equals poor running form. This could not be corrected while running as I soon found out. The only way to do it was to be conscious throughout the day and straighten up. All it took was a little attention everyday. I’d just straighten up when I would remember and over a period of time it happened more frequently. Now, I feel really tall even while sitting. There are days after class when I feel I am walking 2 inches above the ground!
It is the same with asana. At work or home, while sitting or doing something around the place, it is a fun thing to play with alignment. I find props like the back of my dining table chair which is great for a tadasana chest or the coffee table which seems to prop my inner knees in upavishta konasana. Perhaps all this fooling around is responsible for a loosening up of the tight areas in my body. There was a little shift in yesterday’s home practice of trikonasana and ardha chandrasana, with different actions and prep poses. The asana felt different, more length on the left inner leg and a tiny opening in the rotation of the knee. I don’t know the science or anatomy behind the body but I reckon it is a combination of a propped upavishta konasana and the movement of the breath.
As an experiment, I have been lying down in a supported savasana before japa. The breath seems to open up almost instantaneously as it flows through both nostrils. I also found a difference in the state of my mind, less agitation even in the face of wandering thoughts during japa. The body is a good teacher if I can get my thinking out of the way. In all this asana practice, it is less about the appearance and more about the presence. As one of my teachers mentioned in class last week, it is intense attention that is required more than intense action.
देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा … Something to ponder, although the third pada seems more apt for those further along in their sadhana.