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how much focus/tension to use.?

saturdaysun2010-07-04 16:21:27 +0000 #1
I used to study shotokan karate and while it had its uses at that time, I find it gave me a lot of bodily tension.

and now i'm starting to learn yoga I find my body is trying to use the same tension level it was used to being at from doing karate.

basically, I'm in a yoga pose trying to relax into it & my bodies muscles are tightening up thinking 'karate.'

So I'm wondering what to do.? how much generally should we put into it.?

I read one site which said something like in terms of tension "your meditation should be harder than you asana"

but I find it hard to really relax into it.
Nichole2010-07-04 16:27:48 +0000 #2
Hey Andy,

I am curious about your use of term body tension and I wanted to ask you about this so I could be more clear on what you mean exactly. Are you speaking of actual contracted muscle when you speak of this sensation OR are you speaking more to the energy that you are experiencing as maybe a readied, potential energy in your muscle. I was thinking that having the body primed for a strike would be like experiencing the potential energy of your muscles and this could maybe what you are speaking to when you say muscle tension---I don't know karate myself, thus my question. In anticipation of your answer, thank you!

These are great questions that you've posted here about effort. We have been given simple answers to them by Patanjali, the sage who codified Yoga practice. He makes it clear how much effort we each need to give in our poses for them to be considered Yoga at all. As simple as he has made it for us, I wouldn't say that it is easy to find relaxation in our efforts; it takes some practice and even then it is always changing and asking us to change too. Here is what Patanjali offers us in his sutras; I am using the sutra interpretation of my teacher, Mukunda Stiles here.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras

II:46 Yoga pose is a steady and comfortable pose.

II:47 Yoga pose is mastered by the relaxation of effort,

lessening the tendency for restless breathing,

and promoting an identification of oneself as living

with the infinite breath of life.

Our breath is our very first perceivable cue on both effort and when the pose is finished. Watch this as you play with your effort. Also watch to see how much effort you will need to exert to practice a pose and how much more (or maybe less) your mind will want to apply. I find this really fascinating, because the mind most often directs the body to 2, 3, 4x the amount of effort actually needed. Watch with open-hearted curiosity and see if you notice something like this too.

Cheers,
saturdaysun2010-07-04 16:41:48 +0000 #3
thanks nichole, by body tension i meant that I was/am holding myself too tight.

I got a yoga book where the author talks about relaxing the core and how most of us walk around tight-arsed all the time.(clenching the anus muscle)

Thinking "relax & be calmer" is helping me in my practise.
Pandara2010-07-04 17:06:17 +0000 #4
Are you with a teacher or are you teaching yourself at home through books and dvd's?
MichaelJ2010-07-04 18:14:37 +0000 #5
Saturdaysun,

I am no expert on Yoga, but I can tell you from a martial arts perspective that your tension is not coming from your previous training. In martial arts you develop fluid motion, tension slows a person down and inhibets power.

You are probably tense because you are learning something new. Any new physical skill is usually very awkward at first. Once you internalize the movement then grace will follow.

Michael

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