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Performance, Practice, Presence

Stephen in Tree Pose variation

Here I am in Tree Pose with lateral lean and elbow hug variations. It’s an easy, relaxing, heart hugging, fun variation. Apart from the balance challenge and lateral stretch, the longer you hold the pose, the more the standing leg is strengthened by weight bearing. This is a key benefit of all one-legged poses. Yoga poses don’t have to be difficult to be effective. Initially many yoga students are attracted by extra-ordinary poses, and the challenge of transforming their body and performance. But we can only progress so far in this direction, limited by the limitations of our body, and the inevitable ageing process. I call this outer progress horizontal progress, whereas as inner progress is vertical progress, just as the universe expands physically outwardly, but as more complicated organisms evolve, we become capable of holding higher vibrations of consciousness, which rises vertically, beyond the physical, back into the spiritual source, which bought everything into being. We can experience this vertical progress in yoga when we realise that how our poses look to others is secondary to how the practise affects us personally. We move from performing to practising yoga, from focusing on the outside to focusing on the inside. This is real progress in yoga and is less to do with what we are doing, than how we are doing it. Our experience of yoga practise also evolves. First, we feel the physical effects, then we become aware of how the whole process affects us body and mind. We notice that we feel like a different person after the practise, as if we have become clear and free. Perhaps we start to sleep better and worry less. As we continue our practise, we increasingly zone into this feeling, in the core of our being, which rises unseen, like a living stream. We progress to the stage of meditation, we feel the flow, and we practise the presence.

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