Doing vs. Undoing in Yoga?

woman practising undoing yoga

In our busy lives these days we always seem to need to be doing something. Keeping busy. Getting stuff done. Ticking things off our list.

In a similar way, if we like yoga – and we like the way it makes us feel in our bodies – we often like to do it a lot. And that can a good thing. Having a practice and doing the poses is perceived as us doing good things for our bodies.

And yet

If we spend all our lives busy doing, then surely a little undoing sometimes might be a better thing?

I know if I sit hunched over my computer for most of the day (which these days is sadly the case), then I’ve created tension in my entire neck and shoulder region. Not to mention my lower back and legs.

I don’t think it’s necessarily best practice for me to then launch into rounds of sun salutations, or focus on alignment that inevitably puts more stress on areas of my body that are already a little tight.

But if I’ve had a morning away from the desk and my body feels freer that day, a stronger practice might suit me better.

There are many schools of yoga, but they can often be separated out into two different types: yoga as a dynamic, physical practice or yoga for release and relaxation.

I think there’s room for both, and in fact see them as the perfect counterbalance to one another.

Doing

  • Promotes necessary muscular strength;
  • Stretches muscles and increases flexibility;
  • More intense styles of yoga can offer a cardio workout.

Doing comes naturally to us. We like to feel we are progressing and tangible results motivate us to practise more.

Undoing

  • Releases tension and increases flexibility;
  • Relaxes the body and mind;
  • Take us out of our habit of doing, which can become automatic, or mechanical (and no-one wants a mechanical practice).

Undoing is not doing nothing. It is not merely resting in Savansana. It may seem simple, but it is harder for us to achieve than we might at first imagine. “Doing” is so ingrained in us, that it feels very alien to practice something where results are not tangible but more intuited.

Your Body; Your Yoga

As you become better versed in your own practice you become more attuned to your body’s needs. A flexible (no pun intended!) practice is best – strong when you need it, or a gentle one that, when your body is full of tension, provides an undoing.

It’s why every Wannabe Yogi should explore a personal practice; it truly is the best way of paying mindful attention to your body and giving it the kind of self-care it deserves.

Doing but then also undoing – a yoga balancing act. Which do you usually opt for? 

Signed by: Monika.

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  1. RoseMary Griffith on 28 August 2018 at 11:06 pm

    I learn a lot from your posts!
    It’s been three years since I started to stand at my desk for 4-5 hours each day and it’s made a difference in how I feel by 5 or 6 o’clock. It also helps to take a break and do a short neighborhood stroll. But I’m still not very good at the undoing part! That’s something I need to seriously look at learning how to do–maybe calm my crazy level of activity down a notch or two.

    • Monika Maurer on 30 August 2018 at 9:02 am

      That’t fantastic Rosemary! My husband is thinking of getting a standing desk installed – I think they’re a great idea. I also heard of a “walking desk” which, upon investigation is a cross between a treadmill and a desk, which sounds a good idea too. I need neither though, as we just have a new puppy who will a)keep my on my toes and b)get me out of the house on a walk every day! x PS the undoing part is the hardest!

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