Krama is a yogic principle rarely discussed in my experience and yet absolutely fundamental to the results we find not just in practice, but in life itself. It is something that the best vinyasa teachers eloquently weave into their flow sequences and yet to the unpracticed eye may be invisible. Krama, defined in Sanskrit, means “succession” but demonstratively it means order matters. In other words, a vinyasa krama denotes that the way we systematically open the body, changes the results. Therefore, when seeking a more challenging pose, we must systematically open each body part connected to that pose, so we lure or ease the body into it. If we start with the result we are looking for, and immediately go for it, the result, at best will be compromised and often not possible. It is the step-by-step nature of the progression, that allows us the best opportunity for success.
It’s easy to see how the concept of krama is imperative to working with the body, but what if we extend this philosophy to our everyday lives? How is the order in which we approach something, anything effect the results? Although this may seem obvious, we live in a culture where we are often witnessing another’s “peak pose” on the daily, with little of the background on what it took to get there. We witness others successful ‘XYZ’, and we think we want that too and yet are quickly discouraged when we don’t receive the same result. This impatience is fed by a society in which, social media champions a quick dopamine hit of acknowledgment, and yet our satisfaction quickly fades, and we need another “peak pose” to get another hit. This feeds our willingness to cut corners and find the most “efficient hacks” to get us where we need to go, without the wisdom to assess, if the steps we may be trying to jump over change the results of our efforts. Again, order matters and the fruit the develops from any seeds planted are inherently affected by the step-by-step approach we take to nurture it to fruition.
Relationship are perfect illustrations of this. We may be craving connection or looking for a serious partner but our actions don’t mirror that same outcome. Whether it be the speed by which we are intimate, or glossing over red flags, our desire for the result overrides the patience necessary for the (proper) progression. And yet a solid foundation for which a connection may grow takes time to ensure trust is built creating the openness and willingness to be seen by another. This trust is something built through meaningful time spent together or in some circumstances extreme situations. Each time we truly connect with another, we are laying down one more step in that process. Each person’s step-by-step progression may be different, as the desired results may vary, but it is clear that the progression is the best predicator of our success.
This process, or progression, allows us to open and prepare for what lies next. Just as I may need to open, stretch, build, or condition certain body parts to achieve a peak pose, intelligent progressions allow us to build up the qualities needed in order to sustain our accomplishment. We see the reverse of this illustrated with the lottery winner goes broke or the American Idol winner who becomes a one-hit wonder. Yet again, we see order matters. When we haven’t cultivated the skills and mental capacity to hold something, despite our desire for it, we won’t maintain it for long. Without the knowledge about how to build wealth or manage money, our quick boost to the bank account may become more of a curse then a blessing when we haven’t learned how to properly manage it. However, when we take smaller steps allowing a confidence and mastery to arise at each progression, we open ourselves up to the next evolution and one step closer to our ultimate desire.
So how can you apply this concept of krama, to your current life situation and goals? Could you allow yourself more grace and acceptance for where you are right now? Can you see how your current situation lends itself to the lessons necessary to progress on your journey? Can you foresee the missteps that may occur if you were to gloss over a step? Would you reverse the order of anything you are currently doing, knowing that this order will change the result? These insights can guide you forward with more acceptance and patience knowing that they will increase your ability to achieve and hold your desires. Often, this seems clear when we are approaching a business goal and yet we fail to successful apply this knowledge to our personal life allowing emotion to supersede logic.
However, if we can actively attune to life itself, watching its cycles, it can give us the assurance that our attention to what is right in front of us, is its best place. For the right now, is the only thing that changes what comes next, and ultimately WHERE our progression leads.
This is the beauty of the yoga practice itself. We often only think of yoga in the West as the hatha yoga practice, but even in that, we are offered so many mirrors that can offer us insights into other areas where we may be blind. We notice what the body is telling us about the deeper layers of the mind, often in our subconscious. Are we flexible or rigid? Are we well balanced or off kilter? Are we confident or timid? What is our self-talk when we can or cannot “do” a pose? These observations can offer up a more macro perspective about how we are interacting with ourselves and the outside world. So next time you approach your practice, see what reflections are offered. Keeping in mind the concept of “krama”, notice if your progressions on the mat and in life, are supporting you in getting to your ultimate “peak pose.”