This site is for learning and sharing about Yoga. Topics include teaching, asana, meditation and a nurturing forum for questions about your Yoga practice.

Yoga Q&A: Submitted Questions and Answers

Send questions as a Comment (at bottom of this article). Comments are first approved, so if you prefer your question to be anonymous, please specify.

Question: In class, I find myself teetering while trying to do standing balances. Really really shaking and it is embarrassing. Is there anything I can do to get better at this?

Answer: There are several interesting aspects to consider when practicing standing balances such as Tree (Vrksasana ). Our ability to balance will vary at different times dependant upon our energy and the amount of mental chatter. First of all, try to let go of any self consciousness or embarrassment. With any balance it is important to (1) find a drishti, which is a ‘gazing point.’ This gazing point becomes a point of focus and aids concentration. This will assist with stopping mental chatter and bringing the mind to single-pointed concentration; (2) Don’t forget to breathe evenly, and in a relaxed way (through the nostrils). Holding the breath impedes balance.; (3) Apply counter-energy. Example: If your arms are extended to the sky, reach into the fingertips as if someone tall is pulling your arms skyward. Merge with above (centrifugal force) to ground the foot with below (gravity). In Tree posture, also merge the left and right sides of the body by pressing the sole of the bent-knee foot into the inner thigh, and press the inner thigh into the sole. This creates an energetic seal between the foot and thigh and grounds the posture. Finally, merge the back and front sides of the body by tucking the pelvis forward and flexing the shoulder blades toward one another. All of this engagement grounds the posture.

Question: In class when we are taken into guided relaxation during savasana, sometimes I feel very uptight and am unable to relax. Even though the journey has beautiful imagery and sound, for me, as a guy, it has, several times, been more like a nightmare! I start thinking about my mother’s death, for instance and feel a flood of emotions, and embarrassed that I might actually cry.

Answer: Thank you for sharing so honestly. Please know, first of all, that this is natural and all is well. What you have described is a very common happening, especially when we are new to yoga, or after coming back from a sabbatical, or after a traumatic event. In the words of Carlos Castenada, “the only way out of the fog is to face our fears and walk through it to the other side.” Whatever is coming up during Savasana may likely be something that has been pushed down because the psyche may not have felt ready to deal with the pain. During Savasana, the benefits of the exercise through asana is integrated. Yoga postures open our bodies and energy centers and this assists us with moving through blockages that may be preventing us from moving forward and healing. How about during the next Savasana, consider taking an intention into the Heart to observe what is coming up. Once the topics of pain are acknowledged (mother’s passing, break up, a flood of emotion) let the thoughts, feelings and memories go, floating like clouds across the forehead and into the sky, without judgment. Return all focus, then, to the breath. After practice, perhaps give yourself a private block of time like a day or two off, to explore the thoughts and feelings, deeply feel, process and if necessary grieve, to come to terms with loss and change. Other times it might help to talk things through with a friend or counselor. And if tears do flow in Savasana, honor this purity of expression with the gratitude of knowing that yoga is working its sacred healing in your life.

Question: Why do this pranayama stuff? I am just here for the exercise and frankly, I breathe just fine on my own.

Answer: Breathing is so simple and so obvious that we often take it for granted, ignoring the power of the way we breathe and the affect on body, mind and spirit. With each inhale we bring oxygen into the body and spark the transformation of nutrients into fuel. Each exhale purges the body of carbon dioxide, and toxicity. Breathing also affects our state of mind. It can make us excited or calm, tense of relaxed — our thinking confused or clear. What’s more, in yoga, air is the primary vehicle for bringing prana, the life force energy into the body.

Pranayama is loosely translated as “lengthening of the prana and control of breath.” The ancient yogis developed many breathing techniques to maximize the benefits of building and harnessing prana as a practice to help clear and cleanse the body and mind. Why not give it a try and see if you reap some basic benefits such as enhanced energy, clarity, calmness and clearer sinuses! (See the Pranayama article for introductory instruction.)


1 Comment»

  Donna wrote @

Blessings to you!

What a treat to be able to share and learn!

beautiful site. thank you.

Namaste’ Donna

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