The Magic Ten is “a series of ten simple exercises, designed by Sharon Gannon, that can be done in about ten minutes. It is a good way to warm up for an asana class or to get your body moving first thing in the morning or at any time you need a ‘pep up.'”
The fourth chapter in Sharon’s Magic Ten and Beyond book is dedicated to this asana series and is called “Connecting the Way”. Sharon has always taught us to choose our words very consciously and very carefully. Interestingly, she doesn’t call this chapter “Strengthening, Stretching, Posing or Exercising…” but, rather “Connecting… “. The word asana is translated loosely to mean “seat”, as a seat is where we connect to something. We don’t levitate above a chair or the ground, we connect to it in some way, with some part of our body, be it the sits bones or the hands – in handstand or bakasana (crow/crane) – or the feet – in tadasana (mountain) or vrksasana (tree). This connecting to the chair or the floor or a yoga mat is, on a more subtle level, connecting with the earth, and in that, connecting with ourselves and with all living Beings.
Practicing these asanas every morning is a bit magical for me. How so? Well, in Jivamukti we have two sayings about magic that come up here: “Magic is a shift in perception” and “With repetition, the magic is forced to arise”. I genuinely enjoy my days but often I am tired, slow and human in the morning (seriously depleted in my pep). Ten minutes and ten asanas later, there is absolutely a shift in how I feel and what I perceive. There is openness, lighter energy, focused clarity, and diminished irritation with trivial. These little changes open me to connect with others because if I am stuck in fatigue or heaviness, there isn’t as much of my attention available for connection!
In addition to this shift in perception, these simple asanas are designed to be repeated- easily repeated- easily repeated again and again.. because with repetition, the magic is forced to arise. What shifts happen when I practice one morning? How does that compare to what happens after a month or a year? Again and again and again, just noticing the positive shifts that occur on this journey of life and yoga. Am I more patient? More open mindes? Calmer? Kinder? Can we become more in touch with the love of who we are?
The nice thing about the asanas in this series is that they are accessible to seasoned and new practitioners. Handstand (a literal turning your perception upside down ) may sound intimidating but there are options for more or less advanced even here… Ardha Purvottanasana (Tabletop) may feel challenging to hold for 10 full breaths but hey, “with repetition….”
When it comes down to it, these asanas might carry us beyond our thoughts and connect us to something deeper. Thinking about it is one thing, but doing it is what it’s all about. Grab a mat, find the breath and start in downward facing dog… I’ll meet you there !