In this blog, we'll explore the second type of effort and ease that is important in the Ghosh lineage: pose and counter-pose.
This is the belief that asanas should be practiced in pairs. With regard to the body, whatever was shortened in the first asana should be lengthened in the second. Or, whatever was contracted in the first, should be relaxed in the next. This is usually demonstrated with back and forward bends of the spine.
A simple version of this is Camel & Rabbit, as pictured above. Since Camel pose engages the back and relaxes the front, we must follow it by Rabbit pose which does the opposite. By practicing asanas in pairs, we cultivate effort and ease through each pose and counter-pose combination.
This instruction is not presented clearly in the early writing from the Ghosh lineage. But by the time of Dr Gouri Shankar Mukerji in the 1960s it is. In 1963 he writes:
"The sequence of exercises should be chosen in a way that body parts or muscles opposite to each other will always be stressed, thus after an exercise extending the spine follows one bending it (p. 7)".
He explains this method in terms of the sequence one should practice while noting what is opposite in the body.
In the first blog of this series, we focused on shavasana as the ease that follows the effort of each posture. Here we bring attention to the fact that when we pair asanas together by pose and counter-pose, we cultivate a sense of effort and ease. What was exerting effort in the first pose, is relaxed in the next. This combination results in a balance of effort and ease.
In the final blog of this series, we will focus on the third type of effort and ease. This is the combination of engagement and relaxation that happens in each posture.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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