Yoga Journal - - Practice Well -

In my tra­di­tion of prac­tice (Ashtanga), there is a ready-made safety net called

tristhana, or the three sup­ports of the prac­tice. They go from gross to sub­tle. The first sup­port is what you do with your phys­i­cal body: Keep your body still (re­sist fid­get­ing) but stay mus­cu­larly ac­tive where the pose re­quires it. Your body should be alert and fully en­gaged, but not rigid or gripped. This type of phys­i­cal ac­ti­va­tion will al­low your body to re­main re­cep­tive to the dy­namic move­ment of your breath within your body.

This con­scious, pur­pose­ful breath is the sec­ond sup­port and fo­cuses on the en­er­getic body: Breathe through your nose, mak­ing a gen­tle sound in your throat and chest. Breathe freely into the en­tirety of your rib cage, while gen­tly lift­ing from the cen­ter of your pelvic floor and the low­est part of your belly.

The third sup­port is how you choose to di­rect your at­ten­tion: Keep your eyes open and your gaze soft and steady. By tem­per­ing the phys­i­cal ef­fort with the en­er­getic prac­tice of breath and the men­tal and emo­tional prac­tice of gaze (at­ten­tion), you’ll min­i­mize the over­do­ing or over­reach­ing that is cre­ated through striv­ing. Re­ceive your prac­tice as it is, and fo­cus on the send­ing and re­ceiv­ing of en­ergy and the gift of your at­ten­tion—the as­pects of prac­tice that have a more last­ing ef­fect on the qual­ity of your life. Take your time and be pa­tient.

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