Every once in a while in yoga class I will find myself saying “And there we are back to Aristotle.” When I say that it doesn't mean that I want to reference Aristotle's entire philosophical work, or even his entire ethics, but that I think yoga plays out his contention that the good is to be found in a balanced state between lack and excess. To give a really oversimplified example: self starvation is bad, and gluttony is bad, but healthy eating is good.
One of the common themes of yoga is balance (physical, mental, spiritual). One of the common themes of my teaching when I am thinking about our connection downward to the earth, and the way we lift upward with control is the strong triangle. Shavasana is one of the major postures chosen for rest because it requires little muscular tension to maintain. Cat position may be hard if one's knees are compromised, but try lifting one limb and you can feel how you begin to tighten to hold the position. Lift two and this is more difficult.
Sunday- Running or 30 minutes of cardioMonday- Yoga (60 minutes)Tuesday- Zumba or 45 minutes of cardioWednesday- Pilates (30 minutes)Thursday- Zumba or 45 minutes of cardioFriday- Yoga (60 minutes)Saturday- Rest!
Why do I have muscle tension? How can I get this to go away? Can you just massage it out? How many sessions will it take to get that out? What exercises can I do? What foods should I eat? What oils would help out with this pain?
The idea of using pressure and friction on the human body for health and relaxation is not new. Massage was prevalant in the time of the Roman empire: if you went to the baths it would be common to have a body rub in addition to the hot and cold tubs. The Greeks as well had it, and before them the Egyptians and the Chinese, and the Indians. There are even some European cave paintings that suggest massage may date back thousands of years earlier. So the practices and the understanding of their benefits predate a lot of our modern medical science.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I think about and use shavasana (http://blog.ideafit.com/blogs/ariadne-greenberg/shavasana-and-meditation ). Since then I find myself thinking about, and talking to my classes about the beginning of the class. If in part Shavasana is the transitional pathway out of the physical practice, into the meditative practice, and then out into our lives, it is balanced by what we do at the beginning of practice, when we step on the mat.