Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tilak Pyle Yoga -- Altar of the Heart

"Don't get caught chasing the perfect pose, . . . perfect body. 
Relax into yourself enough to know that you're perfect already."

This is the statement that Tilak Pyle makes about 2/3 the way through his powerfully serene yoga practice, "Altar of the Heart." "Altar of the Heart" was voted by the Video Fitness community as their favorite yoga video. As much as I love Baron Baptiste, I'd have to agree. Tilak managed to self-produce a yoga dvd with every essential perfect touch. The scenery is gorgeous (Blue Ridge Mountain Mountains and the Lotus Shrine in Virginia), his voice is ever so soothing, and the music is beyond beautiful. The first time I did this dvd, my eyes actually filled with tears because the music was so moving. That's how good it is. This doesn't even touch the most important element -- the yoga postures and flow. Tilak found a way to blend relaxing and releasing moves, as well as strengthening ones to challenge and soothe the body at the same time -- all at a peaceful pace.

This practice is a little over an hour and is a pleasure to do. And if I don't have a full hour, I can stop at either of a few points where he does savasana 35 and 45 minutes into the practice. Here's a breakdown of the chaptering and poses (courtesy of Beth at VF):

opening meditation, 2:20
seated bends/twists, 5:10
standing warm-up and balance postures, 6:20
half sun salutes/lunge series, 5:45
warrior series, 5:06
side plank/kneeling pigeon, 2:45
pyramid/warrior 3/half moon, 3:22
pigeon series/child/chest stretch, 7:34
wide leg series/savasana, 4:02
reclined leg series, 5:50
seated hip openers, 5:34
headstand, 2:08
seated forward bends/savasana, 3:34
shoulderstand, 1:55
lying and seated twists, 4:08
savasana, 5:48
pranayama, 5:38

Tilak completed his yoga training with another favorite yogi of mine, Erich Schiffman. Their mellow styles are similar and they have the same approach of letting your body find the place in the pose where it wants to be. Erich always says, "Savor the way that this feels."

Tilak says similar thing, but my very favorite line is his non-competitive, self-accepting phrase I mentioned at the beginning. There's so much wisdom in that. As in much of yoga, it's symbolic of regular life -- not just the yoga practice.

"Don't get caught chasing the perfect pose" can also carry over into our daily living to not always trying to be perfect -- deciding that the way someone else has done something is the way that we need to be -- always chasing, never being satisfied.

". . . perfect body" -- boy do so many of us (including myself, for sure) compare bodies and think there is some model of perfection that we must obtain or we're not enough. I still think I'd look better with longer legs and I'm never going to have them. So what's the point of chasing after that? (*roll eyes*)

I've always wished my feet were longer. I think this stems from seeing Princess Diana in so many magazines with her long lean feet. When I was in college, I thought I could remedy this by simply buying longer shoes. So I bought a size up and tripped while walking into the testing center one day. I feel face forward, only catching myself by my wrists on the bottom of a metal-framed glass door. Both wrists were cut and bleeding. Not realizing how this might appear (at a testing center no less -- like I was suicidal over my finals or something), I went to the bathroom and tried to stop the bleeding with paper towels. When that didn't prove to be enough, I asked the desk clerk if she had any band-aids for my cut wrists. Did she ever give me a strange look! :) Anyway, it was a moment I'll remember and a silly one at that for thinking I needed bigger feet!

"Relax into yourself enough to know that you're perfect already." I've heard stuff like that at church or from my husband, but it didn't come from within or sink in, so I'm not sure I believed it. I was still looking to outward sources to give me that feeling. But while doing yoga in such a peaceful setting, it becomes very personal and his thoughts became my thoughts. I could *get* what he was saying as if it were coming from my heart. I'm not just using that word because of the title of his yoga practice. He truly spoke to me and I could see that I needed to quiet all those ill-conceived notions of perfection and just love who I am and marvel in my magnificent body.

Of course, the noises of the world are often louder than the voices in my heart, so I appreciate hearing this phrase every time I do this yoga practice. I continue to grow with it.

Edited to add: If you want to order this dvd, here's the link from Tilak's site.


  1. You're the only person I've ever heard of who has wanted bigger, or shall I say, Longer feet. Too funny. I guess for most of the other worrysome body parts one can find an exercise routine for. Certainly if there is one for lengthening feet you would be able to find it. Goodluck!

  2. LOL! You're right -- I probably would know if there were a feet-lengthening video. Actually, I kind of got what I was hoping for in my second pregnancy -- my feet grew a size. They still don't look like Princess Diana's, but it's fun to have them a little bigger :).