My yoga practice has gotten supercharged. It all started just over a year ago on a vacation in Peru. I found myself at the top of a vista and asking my travel buddy to photograph me “in a cool yoga pose” for fun--okay it was for my Facebook page.
I started in crow but the angle wasn’t right and I felt the shot was showing a bit more of my gluteus extra maximus than I wanted to share with the general social media public. I decided to try something else. Without really knowing what was happening, I pulled in through my core, shifted my body sideways, extended one leg and magically found myself in a variation of side crow! I could barely believe it. I had never done this pose before, nor even attempted it. I had no clue that my body was capable of such strength and poise.
Since that moment, I have been gleefully indulging in inversions; Salamba Sarvangasana, Sirsasana, and Pincha Mayurasana to my heart’s content. Somewhere amidst the head-over-heels-ing though, I lost my regular practice of the more classical poses. Taking a class recently, I noted my body, mind and breath struggling to unite during a warrior series. Vrksasana was out of my new upside down comfort zone. This experience was extremely humbling. It seems that in excitedly and continually lifting my feet towards the sky, I lost my grounding.
I’ve decided to go back to basics. Returning to a more simple practice, back to the foundations of posture and alignment. This experience has reminded me that yoga is a path, a practice and like much in life, not wholly tangible when we’d like it to be. A sustained headstand is certainly not a measure of success if we sacrifice the ability to feel at ease in Tadasana. Yoga is about finding balance and I allowed the downside-up stimulating rush of endorphins to throw me off mine. So today, I jack up my practice with simplicity. I still work on arm balances and inversions because, quite frankly, I am addicted to them. But I cannot let the yang throw me away from the yin, so I do that too. Yin yoga, beginner hatha classes, gentle yoga and more.
By incorporating more basic asana into my life, I have found better balance not just in the physical. Yin helps me to come down after advanced power flow. Level one classes keep me aware of alignment. As a whole, I feel calmer, more centered and better able to observe my life and its surroundings rather than be consumed by each scenario. Our practices need not be goal-oriented. Holding a handstand means nothing if staying grounded on two feet is difficult. Yoga is not about the tricks; it is about the magic within. Our practice need only be joyful and safe.
Lauren Rudick is an international yoga instructor based out of Montreal, Canada. She teaches hatha, vinyasa, power flow and yoga for hockey players at workshops and retreats both at home and abroad. Her classes are infused with humor and positivity, helping students build confidence on and off the mat. In her downtime, she enjoys hiking, snowboarding, beaching, arts n’ crafting, eating and snuggling her puppy Julius.