Posts by: Emily Shaw
One Pose: Tadasana
I’m excited to be part of boundless’ One Pose at a Time program. I’ll be drawing, and blogging about, each asana in the series. I’d love to hear your feedback on how you experience these poses, and whether my drawings reflect your practice.
The first pose, Tadasana, was a surprisingly difficult pose to draw, just as it is unexpectedly challenging to perform. Tadasana seems straightforward enough; one stands on two feet, arms by the side. But this simplicity masks a great deal of complexity.
The pose is about stillness, which if you’re not careful, can easily become stiffness. My first efforts to draw Tadasana resulted in stolid statue-like figures. I could almost feel muscles and breath holding in these sketches. But the version of tadasana I have come to love in my practice is both grounding and expansive. In it I become aware of small fluctuations of breath, and shifting awareness in body and mind. In my sketch I’ve attempted to draw this through strong feet and legs that transition into a broad torso, soft shoulders, and expansive arms and hands.
One of my greatest struggles as a yogi has been establishing a home practice. Sure, there have been weeks where I set a schedule and followed through, but I’ve often found myself pulled out of my tentative practice groove by fleeting things—drinks with friends, a messy room, a date with my boyfriend. Of course, just about everything I’ve read about yoga stresses the importance of a home practice—that it’s where real growth and benefits lie. Reading such things made me feel guilty about not practicing as I should, and the guilt added just another obstacle to practice.
Now I’m trying a more positive route. According to Apartment Therapy, a home should not only reflect the interests of the people who live in it, but also make it easier for them to do the things they love. Since I’ve always been sensitive to the environment, I’m making a yoga spot I like to be in. I’ve begun setting up a practice space. It is simple: a soft section of carpet in the living room by our bright bay windows. It is light and airy and I can look at the trees while I practice. I like it there, so going there is not a chore. My props sit in a corner of the room, easily within reach. I go to it, feel happy, and do asana.
Seeing bodies, literally
Kim and I have been talking about a new project that combines my loves for both drawing and yoga. The idea is to create a series of asana illustrations to promote upcoming boundless classes.
I started sketching asanas in the basic teacher training program to better understand their alignment and energy. I’m a visual person and this helps me process and learn. The act of drawing is an exploration in and of itself—a description of how individual body parts work together to create whole bodies.
Kim and I will be meeting this week to think about how to create illustrations that fit with the boundless mission. We both shy away from an anatomical approach (think Ray Long) in favor of a looser, sketchier style that conveys how asana feels.
Benefits of teaching
I¹ve been worrying about the prospect of teaching yoga for months now. It was sort of unfathomable to think of myself as a teacher. I have been afraid of the exposure inherent in teaching—the sharing and the vulnerability. What if I’m not good enough? What if my students evaluate me and find me wanting?
To prepare, I recruited my boyfriend, who had never taken a yoga class in his life. During our session I wondered: is he bored? annoyed? does this make him more resistant to yoga? But when we were done and I looked into his eyes I felt a new kind of connection, a generalized sweetness between us. Yoga has the power to do that.
A coworker volunteered to be a second guinea pig. My first reaction was “no!” but sleeping on it calmed my anxiety and I agreed to teach a lunchtime class. On the day of class I had four students instead of one. But the previous night’s experience with my boyfriend made me calm.
It wasn’t the class so much as my experience after that I remember. I found myself open and happy. I saw my coworkers through new eyes, with love and compassion. I wanted to be close to them. I wanted to ask about their lives. I appreciated their chatter instead of resenting when it took me away from work. I felt radiant and loving. Who knew that teaching yoga would bring these gifts to me? I always thought it was the other way around. That teaching transferred energy from teacher to student. But these early experiences with teaching have enriched me, and brought me energy and joy.
In this section
- Improving our Service
- Teacher of the Month: Nandini Gopinadh
- visit or contact us
- what our students say about us
- Senior Teachers
- mission and values
- teachers’ mission
- boundless press
- boundless in your workplace
Boundless is an oasis of peace and learning in our work-obsessed city. everyone should come to Boundless to share in its approach to practicing yoga.