What I’m teaching…Utkatasana

Yesterday, I posted about the benefits of squats.  Largely directed to any pregnant ladies who might have been reading, my post should have mentioned that the deep squat can prove beneficial to ALL women and men at any age, pregnant or otherwise. Today I want to share some info on another type of squat, very common in the vinyasa yoga practice: utkatasana (a.k.a. powerful/fierce pose or chair pose).

Here’s how Yoga Journal breaks down the pose:

  1. Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms.
  2. Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels.
  3. Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor and in toward your pubis to keep the lower back long.
  4. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.

7268-hp_219_Utkatasana_248

 

Dr. Eden Goldman, a chiropractor and yoga therapist based in L.A., offers some really interesting views on proper alignment in utkatasana that differ from the traditional instruction and I think they are worth consideration.  I am copying this directly off of his website, yogadoctors.com. 

How Yogis Made Chair Pose Dangerous

Utkatasana, a.k.a. chair pose, is one of the most standard postures in the Yoga room.  If you practice Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, or any kind of Power Yoga derivative, chances are you’re doing chair 5-10 times a class, if not more.  It is basically a modified squat and is one of those poses (like downward dog) that appears to be quite basic at first, but once you investigate it, the pose’s more advanced qualities become obvious and apparent.

Yoga Master B.K.S. Iyengar says in his famous Yoga bible, Light on Yoga, that Utkatasana develops the leg muscles evenly, strengthens the ankles and helps remove deformities in the legs.  Unfortunately, what I commonly see from other teachers and students of Yoga is a propagation of the classical form that can actually cause many injuries – whereas the application of a bit of modern sports medicine ingenuity might actually keep people a whole lot safer.  Ask yourself this question:

Why is it that in all other standing poses teachers stress stacking a joint on top of another joint (one of the fundamental biomechanical principles of stability), but in a chair pose all that gets thrown out the window?

The truth is this.  Women outnumber men in Yoga classes 72% to 28% according to Yoga Journal’s most recent demographic studies.  What’s more, numerous scientific studies have shown that women are anywhere from 4 to 10 times more likely to have an injury of the ACL, otherwise known as the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee.  This ligament is sheared or damaged when your knee extends past your ankle, which is why many teachers tell you not to go past that point in Warrior 2’s and Side Angle poses.

So then why do most teachers teach chair pose with the knees diving waaaaay past the ankles adding to this deleterious effect on the ACL, especially for women?  Moreover, having the knees go so far forward further adds to the Western exercise world’s cosmetic fascination of making people more dominant in their quadriceps [in reference to their hamstrings] when all the research in the scientific and physical rehabilitation worlds says that we should be making people less quad dominant and more in touch with their glutes and hamstrings because they sit too much.

Still not convinced?  Try this…

If you do chair pose let’s say only 5 times a class, 4 classes per week then that’s over 1,000 chair poses you will do in 2011.  That’s a lot of chairs!  (Repetitive stress injury anyone?!?!?)

To help keep you and/or your clients safer, here’s how you can modify utkatasana:

1) Shift the weight into the heels and begin bringing to knees back behind the toes.  This will activate the posterior chain of muscles (i.e. the glutes and hamstrings) and cause them to take up more of the responsibility in this pose.  In talking with Dr. Craig Liebenson, team Chiropractor for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, he feels that about 50% of people with perfect form will actually be able to feel their glutes/hams working in a squat position like chair pose and 50% of the population will still feel only their quads because their neuromusculobiomechanical relationship is that compromised.  Just keep this in mind next time when doing/teaching chair and the fact that most people across the board won’t be able to get their knees directly over their ankles.  They will actually be about mid-foot and that would still be a MAJOR improvement!

2) Shift the hips back and stick out the butt more.  This will further load the posterior chain and will help encourage the knees to come back even more.  It’s an old adage that the knee is slave to the hip and that can be used here to benefit the body if that connection is better understood.

3) Keep the lumbar spine and pelvis neutral while engaging your core to support your low back.  That’s the first place that the stress of the pose will want to go as you shift your knees and hips back.  Do not do an anterior pelvic tilt…that will lead you down a slippery slope.  Apply a sternal crunch, brace the abdomen, lateralize the breathing and, as many Yogis in L.A. like to say, bring the front ribs toward the back ribs.

4) Loosen up the hips using other poses to make them more flexible.  An article that I pass out to the Yoga Therapy RX students at Loyola Marymount University when I teach their sections of hip and knee pathology is this one from the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy:

http://www.jospt.org/issues/articleID.2396,type.1/article_detail.asp

Among other great nuggets of wisdom, what the article details is that the body’s knee position and trunk flexion are intricately linked.  As your knees dive forward you are able to straighten up your torso more, a.k.a the classical Yoga chair position, and as your knees move back your torso will flex or bend forward a bit more.  This will feel strange at first, but the latter actually decreases quadriceps loading by almost 30% and will also decrease knee valgosity (where the knees fall toward one another at the centerline of the body) by more than 50%, which helps protect the MCL, the medial collateral ligament of the knee, too.  All good things!  Furthermore, loosening up the hips and making them more flexible will decrease the potential strain in attempting to try to lift up the torso because you will naturally want to try to straighten up to work the pose.  Hopefully, this additionally highlights why point #3 above dealing with the core is so important in protecting your back.  O;-)  Got it!

As the late great Pattabhi Jois famously said, “Yoga is 1% theory and 99% practice.”  So rather than taking my word for it, go try some of these modifications now and see for yourself in your own body.


As with any physical practice or exercise, listen to your body.  We are made in different shapes and sizes, with different body types and abilities. I don’t think any posture or movement is “one size fits all”.  I like that Dr. Goldman has challenged tradition a little bit in an effort to keep our bodies safe and our yoga practices life long.  Try out his suggestions and see how they work for you.

 

What I’m teaching…Remain neutral

It’s so amazing how you can be at just the right place at the exact right time.  I caught a few minutes of the View the other afternoon on a break at work.  Paulina Pinsky, daughter of the famous addiction specialist “Dr. Drew” and former figure skater, was on the couch opening up about her 7-year battle with eating disorders. The ladies were asking about her recovery and how she deals with her body image today.

And she said, simply:

I remain neutral.

It could have been a phrase offered to her by specialists in her recovery or perhaps she came up with that articulation on her own. Either way, it was profound and I had never heard it before.  Remain neutral.  In other words, offer no judgement.  I can see how this strategy can be extremely helpful in healing an eating disorder, when the balance of judging body image as “good” or “bad”, “fat” or “skinny” is so delicate with so many consequences.

We can all cultivate more self-love and acceptance by remaining neutral in any temptation to self-judge or criticize.

Yoga practitioners aspire to follow the principle of ahimsa (non-violence, non-harming, non-injury), the first of the yamas (disciplines) which we learn about in the Yoga Sutras (II.35). Non-judgment is an important aspect of ahimsa, as the suffering that judging causes is harmful and painful.  To remain neutral gives permission NOT to judge.  It means there is no NEED to label.  There is no obligation to discern what is good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate.  Remaining neutral steers us away from suffering.  It’s a way to find more freedom in your life, relationships, yoga practice, or work.  When judgment turns to criticism, a portion of that negative, critical energy remains with you. It’s exhausting and painful to constantly carry that negative energy around with you.

It is possible to look on reality without judgment and merely know that it is there.

A Course in Miracles

Not to mention that often our judgements are misguided or incorrect. What we think we know to be truth, may actually be far from it. With more information, opinions shift and change.

eyore

So I think it’s a far safer and more healthy plan to remain neutral.  The next time you’re faced with the desire to cast a judgement, whether it be directed internally or externally, see how it feels to simply remain neutral.

 

What I’m teaching…The blessing in the struggle

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.

Confucius

When we face challenges in life, we become more grateful and humble human beings.  When it takes time, practice, or patience to accomplish a goal or to get what you want, finally getting there is so much sweeter and we are so much more thankful for it.  The whole process humbles us…with its slow progress, imperfections, stumbles, setbacks and falls.  On the flip side, if everything always comes easily, you may take that gift for granted, the ego would expect to continue always having everything come easily, leaving no opportunity to be thankful and humbled.  I can speak from experience, being someone that can admit to having things come easily in life. However the universe, it seems, had to return me to some sort of balance.  So, recently something was hard..something really important and easily taken for granted.  When the struggle ended, the challenge lifted, and the hard work paid off…I am now left feeling so intensely grateful and lucky!  Humbled. Aware of my humanity.  Aware of my limits.  Aware of my potential. Aware of my strength and my truth.  That is the blessing in the struggle.

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

Saint Augustine

 

What I’m teaching…Viparyaya

viparyaya विपर्यय

reversed, inverted, perverse, contrary to, unreal cognition, indiscrimination, perverse cognition, wrong knowledge, misconception, incorrect knowing, not seeing clearly

Sutra 1.8  mithyajnanam atadrupa pratistham- Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.

I was walking my dog last night. It was dark. We approached a mountainous pile of leaf-filled garbage bags.   He freaked. Did NOT want to pass by. Pulled me away on the leash. He was scared.  I pulled him in the direction of the leaves, close enough so I could touch the bags and hold him at the same time. Once he realized I could touch them without harm, he sauntered over, sniffed them and we moved on.  Same thing happens with turned over garbage bins, some parked cars, things that make loud noises, etc.  Once he realizes that what he thought he saw was not indeed what he thought, he’s fine.

When we perceive a thing as being other than what it is really; that is viparyaya. 

When we accept the unreal as real, it is viparyaya.  

Jumping to conclusions is viparyaya.

It’s not having all the information, but passing judgement anyway.

Viparyaya is one of the five vrittis (fluctuations of the mind which disturb our peace, thought patterns) the yoga practice aims to control.  It is like a blanket of confusion. Through our practice, we begin to see where we have made these mistakes in perception and try to see more clearly. Misperceptions lead to all sorts of ego driven responses that push us farther from realizing our true self- responses such as fear, aversion, anger, hurt, or attraction.

So let us learn to PAUSE before assuming, believing, judging, or interpreting so we avoid misconceptions which lead us down a very unhelpful path on this journey.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

What I’m teaching…Reactions are Teachers

re·ac·tion

We don’t really have experiences in life. We have reactions to experiences. Things don’t happen to us. Things happen in and of themselves, and what we do is react to them. It’s not the existence of standstill traffic that effects us, because if it’s happening, say across town and we don’t know about it, it doesn’t bother us. But if the cars are at a dead stop on the very road that we need to take, suddenly we are activated, and we react to the existence of traffic. It’s not the traffic we are experiencing, it’s our reaction to it! Built into our hardwiring as humans is the fight or flight response, which we needed way back in the caveman era to keep us safe. But we’ve evolved…there is a third option, which is to neither fight nor flee, and that is, to just stay and breathe. If you start to see your emotional feathers getting ruffled, just step back from yourself, come back into your body, watch your breath and feel the reactiveness dissipate. If reactions happen, come out of your head, and anchor into your body…

Baron Baptiste

Surely you’ve noticed how some people, experiences, events, interactions, etc. bring out strong reactions in you while others do not. The reactions may be positive or negative, but they are strong and are very knee jerk in nature.  When the wavelike sensation of reaction passes, we may look back at those moments with regret, shame, puzzlement, or even pride and satisfaction.  Either way, I think they’re worth a second look.

These strong reactions are our teachers.

9 times out of 10, when we take some time to analyze the source or “why?” of the reaction and then consider what those reactions are really doing for us, what they are serving emotionally, physically, spiritually…there is really interesting information waiting. Perhaps they allow us to dig a bit deeper into the work of self knowledge and reflection.  Perhaps they are feeding some sort of negative internal dialogue or maybe we are just parroting back what was modeled for us as children. Perhaps there are reactions that do not serve us well and by simply realizing that, they lessen their hold and we eventually become completely free of them.  Children are great teachers in this way.  The buttons they push are not by accident.  In fact, all relationships push our buttons for the purpose of transformation and growth.  So the next time you find yourself spiraling into a strong reaction, try to stop for a moment and breath deeply.  What is it specifically that you are reacting to? See if you can figure out when in your life you started reacting so strongly in this way and why.  Awareness is where transformation begins.

What I’m teaching…Seek inspiration

When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

Patanjali

When we are inspired, we are motivated.

By definition, motivation arouses us to action and sustains goal directed behavior.  In other words, we do the work (willingly).  Destructive, old patterns have less of a hold.

Seek inspiration…in all facets of life: love, relationships, family, career, health, wellness, yoga…and share your inspiration with others.

Happy New Year.  Hope you are inspired this year!

Here’s a bit of yoga inspiration to get you started!

What I’m teaching…Enlightenment is everywhere

Love this clip!  A beautiful illustration of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2:

Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah

The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga

The entire outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude.  The entire world is your own projection.  Your values may change within a fraction of a second…If you feel bound, you are bound.  If you feel liberated, you are liberated.  Things outside neither bind nor liberate you; only your attitude toward them does that.

Sutra commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda

What I’m teaching…Right speech and the Vishuddha chakra

The 5th chakra is the Vishuddha, which translates to “purity”, “purification”, or “pure place” from Sanskrit.  Located in the neck, shoulders, throat, mouth, tongue and jaw, the Vishuddha chakra is the gateway from the lower, more material/physical energy centers (chakras 1-4) to the upper, more spiritual/metaphysical 6th and 7th chakras. It  governs our ability to communicate, self-express, create, and listen.

Imbalances in the chakras are thought to result in illness.  These invisible energy wheels can either spin too fast or too slow; leaking energy out or blocking energy flow within.  Physically, excessive or deficient energy flow in the 5th chakra can lead to thyroid imbalances, teeth grinding, neck/shoulder stiffness or tension, hearing/speech problems and throat/jaw ailments (such as chronic sore throats or TMJ). Imbalance can also manifest as excessive talking, interrupting, manipulative behavior, inability to listen, shyness,  fear of speaking, inability to express yourself clearly, stuttering, lying, keeping secrets, addiction to smoking and being “wishy-washy”.  The good news is that yoga, meditation, and diet can get your wheels to spin just right.

Some asanas that bring awareness and balanced energy flow to this region are:

Simple neck rollsUstrasana (Camel pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose), Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand), Halasana (Plow pose), Matsyasana (Fish pose), Purvottanasana (Upward plank pose), and Bhujangasana (Cobra pose).

***If you are experiencing any neck “issues”, pain, etc., please practice under the guidance of your teacher.  Most of these poses can still be practiced safely, but may need to be modified.

Pranayama, bandha, and mantra:

Practicing Ujjayi pranayama (victorious breath), Jalandhara bandha (net-bearer bond or throat lock), and chanting Om or “Ham” or any mantra of your choosing will also get the energy moving through the Vishuddha chakra.

Here’s a beautiful Sanskrit mantra that you can learn easily:

Om asatoma satgamaya
tamasoma jyotir gamaya
mrityorma amritam gamaya
Lead us from the unreal to the real
From darkness to light
From death to immortality
Simple meditation for the Vishuddha:
Come into a comfortable position, you can choose Sukhasana (with blankets under your hips or even leaning against the wall), Savasana, or just sit in a comfy chair.  Eyes closed, hands where they feel good.  Bring attention to the neck, throat, mouth,  jaw, and shoulders.  Begin to breathe deeply to relax them, one by one.  Visualize a beautiful sky blue light appear to illuminate this region of your neck and throat, and see it take form into a blue lotus flower with 16 petals (you can glance at the picture below for help here).  Imagine the light brighten with each inhalation and dim a slight bit on exhalation.  Inhale- the light brightens.  Exhale- the light dims a slight bit.  Timing your meditation helps.  Start with 1 minute and increase from there.
Finding balance within the 5th chakra means making a commitment to choose your words.  Communicate with truth, kindness, peace, and love.
The Buddha called it Right Speech:
Refraining from lying, refraining from slander, refraining from harsh speech, refraining from frivolous speech
Patanjali taught non-harming and truth in Sutras 2.35 and 2.36 (Ahimsa and Satya, the first 2 Yamas, which are so foundational and important that they actually come as the first 2 teachings of the 8 limbs of Yoga), both of which can be applied in communication and speech:
ahimsa pratishthayam tat samnidhau vaira tyagah
In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease
satya pratisthayam kriya phalasrayatvam
To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient
And Lao-tzu defines the highest state of man as knowing when to, and not to, speak in the 56th verse of the Tao:
Those who know do not talk
Those who talk do not know
Block all the passages!
Close your mouth, cordon off your senses, blunt your sharpness, untie your knots,  soften your glare, settle your dust.
This is the primal union or the secret embrace
One who knows this secret
is not moved by attachment or aversion, swayed by profit or loss, nor touched by honor or disgrace.
He is far beyond the cares of men yet comes to hold the dearest place in their hearts.
This, therefore, is the highest state of man.
Communication starts in the mind with a thought.  Learn to filter yourself first in those moments.  Ask yourself, “Does this thought foster positivity and love?”  If not, end it there.
If you find yourself thinking about lying, stop it there.  Choose silence.
If you find yourself thinking negatively, judgmentally, or unkindly about someone else…stop it there.  Think about something else or think instead of that person’s good qualities.
If you find yourself in a group of people engaging in gossip, trash talk, or even simply talking about someone that is not there…excuse yourself and walk away.
Our words have significant power.  Our voices are meant to be pure and the throat chakra used as a place for purification.
When we lie, gossip, blab on and on about nonsense, and insult or speak at others in anger, a ripple of negative energy is emitted.  Choose silence instead.  Remember the old addage, “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”.

What I’m teaching…How you do anything is how you do everything

My hope for any yogi who finds themselves sitting in my yoga class (or any yoga class for that matter) is that they walk away with this sentiment…”how you do anything is how you do everything.”  I know I’m not the first to say it and I really don’t know with whom to credit the quote, but I believe this is one of THE most important lessons to be learned from your yoga practice.  I think this is the reason I am drawn to teach yoga because as soon as I realized it, I wanted everyone else in the world to realize it.  Our natural inclinations, attitudes, reactions, thoughts, behaviors, actions, etc. are very simply brought into focus through yoga.  The yoga studio can be viewed as a microcosm, with huge parallels drawn to life off of the mat.  It is a literal classroom where you learn who you are, like, for REAL!

Example #1- Your yoga teacher cues bakasana (crow or crane pose), an arm balance where you may very easily feel like you could come crashing down onto your face.  What are your first thoughts and/or actions?  I taught this pose to my Level I class last week with the intention of shining  a light on fear and self-doubt, highlighting the theme of how you do anything is how you do everything, and the parallel that can be drawn to any situation in life that may sprout fear and/or self-doubt.  My point being, practicing bakasana shows you how you may react to life’s challenges with fear and self-doubt.  Then, you continue practicing bakasana until you have conquered the fear and self-doubt and no longer feel them getting into the pose.  You may also learn that good preparation and a working knowledge of the mechanics of the pose decreases or perhaps eliminates some of the fear and self-doubt.  And then, you use that practice to begin conquering the same fear and self-doubt that may come up at work, in a relationship, or some sort of perceived crisis in life.  OR maybe you aren’t fearful of bakasana, but maybe you get frustrated and hard on yourself that you can’t “do” it.  Maybe you feel bad that you can’t “do” it so you don’t even try.  Maybe you see the person on the mat next to you holding the pose for several breaths and feel a little jealous.  Or maybe your wrists are hurting today and you should probably take it easy with the arm balances, but since you know you can “do” it you feel compelled to show everyone else in the room what you can “do”.

from The Daily Doodle

Example #2- You show up to your favorite yoga teachers class and in walks a sub.  How do you react to that?  Do you get up and leave (this has happened to me before when I subbed for a really popular teacher!) or do you go with the flow and realize that every yoga teacher can teach you something?   Or it could be that there are a lot of beginners in class so the teacher has to take the level down a notch.  Are you annoyed that the class is so slow?  Or maybe you become impatient with all of the extra explanations and cues from the teacher.  These are the days when you could just be appreciating the change in pace.  You could just realize that this is what your body needed today and focus more on your alignment and breath.  This can show you how you react to change in general.  You can miss out on a lot in life by being rigid and resistant to change.

is this you???

Example #3-  You get into sirsasana (headstand) in the middle of the room for the first time in your 4 years of practice.  You see that hard work and patience pays off.  You learn that you are stronger then you think you are and that when you stopped wanting to prove yourself, your abilities were able to shine.

Practice…and all is coming. -Pattabhi Jois

These are just a few little examples.  Yoga shows you who you are…the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It may be just who you are that day, in that moment…competitive, critical, self-conscious, cautious, careful, scared, lazy, resistant to change, impatient, hyper OR maybe calm, willing, patient, open-minded, spiritual, strong, determined, disciplined, adventurous.  The list goes on.  All of our qualities are highlighted by our yoga practice.  And I’m not just talking about asana.  All of the limbs teach you to understand your SELF better.  The goal is not to be judgmental and hard on yourself if you discover something “negative”.  It’s just that you are made aware and awareness creates action and change.  We are all just works in progress.

 

What I’m teaching…Thou shalt not take what has not been offered

Asteya (non-stealing) is the third yama in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (yama=moral/ethical restraints that involve the yogis relationship to the outside world).  

asteya pratisthayam sarva ratnopasthanam

To one established in non-stealing, all wealth comes  

Yoga Sutra 2.37

Asteya means non-stealing.  At first glance, it is easy to check this yama off your list as “done” as you tell yourself “I don’t steal anything from anyone or anywhere”. But, you are likely thinking only of material objects (money, clothes, food, stuff!). When we widen the definition of stealing to taking that which has not been offered, however, there is MUCH more work to be done. Last week, I divided the teaching of asteya into three “parts”, so I could use the theme in each one of my classes (I have found that teaching this way becomes more of a lesson to me than anyone else).

First: off the mat…how do we take what has not been offered in our day-to-day lives?

  • Time- being late takes time away from those we are scheduled to meet.
  • Happiness- what happens to your family, co-workers, and friends when you are in a crappy mood for no reason?
  • Love- it can be very difficult to see this one.  When we are demanding of love, affection, attention, and energy in relationships…how does that often work out for us?
  • Safety- driving like a maniac or acting irresponsibly puts others at risk unfairly.
  • Power/Decision-making/Choice- I am the first to admit that I am control Freak (with a capital “F”!), but I know I suffer for it.  Controlling behavior takes power and the ability to think for themselves away from those around us.
  • Credit- give credit where credit is due.  Whose ideas or thoughts have inspired your own?
  • The earth- mother nature has been robbed over and over again.  Be aware of your consumption.  My motto is: use LESS, recycle MORE
Next:  on the mat…in what ways to we rob ourselves and our fellow yogis?
  • Time- being late to yoga class causes delays and is disruptive to the teacher and students.
  • Space- be mindful when choosing where you unroll your mat.  Are you taking up two spots?  Are you early to class? Instead of randomly placing your mat in the middle of the room, which creates an unbalanced and uneven classroom, start a row at the front.
  • Peace- It is difficult to stay focused and in your “yoga mindset” when someone’s cell phone rings or they get up and leave during savasana.
  • The journey- you rob yourself each time you compare, compete, and desire for the ability to practice a pose.  I think it is ok to be inspired by watching an advanced practice.  It allows you to see what’s possible.  However, there is a fine line between inspiration and jealousy.  Asana takes time.  That is the point of the practice.  It is an individual experience.  Example: have you ever been in class and thought to yourself that today might not be a good day to practice Sirsasana (headstand)? Maybe you’re menstruating or having neck pain.  Then, you see someone next to you or across the room going up and your ego starts to scream.  “You have to show everyone that you can do that, too!”
Lastly: tie it all together…what is the point to the practice of non-stealing?
If we want to become the world’s richest people, this is a very simple way…just practice non-stealing.  All of us are thieves.  Knowingly and unknowingly…if we are completely free from stealing and greed, contented with what we have, and if we keep serene minds, all wealth comes to us.  If we do not run after it, before long it runs after us.  If nature knows we aren’t greedy, she gains confidence in us, knowing we will never hold her for ourselves…the richest person is the one with a cool mind, free of tension and anxiety.
Sutra commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda
When we practice non-stealing, all riches/jewels/wealth come to us.  Sri Swami Satchidananda gives a great example in his Sutra commentary.  Think about your last visit with a baby or pet cat/dog.  They come to you on their own, naturally curious and interested in you.  If you grab them into your arms and hold them tight against their will, not letting them go- they will squirm, fuss, and fight to get away and it would be highly unlikely that they would come back to you again anytime soon.  Instead, if the baby or pet is allowed to leave when they wish…they will always keep coming back to you to play!  The same is true in life.  When we take what has not been offered, we are stealing and will lose out each and every time.
When we are working through the yamas, learning to ACCEPT, WANT, and LOVE what we already have, mudra can be helpful.  Try Pushan mudra, which is said to aid in acceptance, digestion, and in easing anger.  
Sit comfortably with your legs crossed.  Take your right thumb to the index and middle fingers and place the back of your hand on your lap.  Take your left thumb to the middle and ring fingers and place the back of your hand on your lap.  Close your eyes and breathe.