Mis En Place
One of my students, Katy, is a food consultant, chef, and [insert other food genius title here]. She recently posted a photo on Instagram of her mis en place for whatever it is that she was cooking. Something delicious, I imagine. It got me thinking about how important the "mis" or set up is in cooking. Especially, restaurant cooking, where a dinner rush dance will bring a fury of motion and quicken the pace from a slow waltz at the beginning of service, to somewhere between fast flamenco all the way up to mosh pit.
The mis en place is all about having everything set up in it's right place, so that all extraneous effort is removed when the dance picks up pace. If you have to take extra steps, or God forbid have to run to the Walk-in you end up in what is known as "The Weeds." Out of sync, backed up with orders, mistakes get made, proteins start getting burned, and essentially out of the rhythm of the kitchen.
The concept of mis en place works perfectly in yoga. First, it relates to the Yama Brahmacharya (which is often confused with celibacy) or energy conservation. Use enough energy, not too much not to little to accomplish a task or a posture. Preparation is involved to get the set up, or mis en place, of the posture so you don't have to use extraneous energy. You know when you are in "The Weeds" of your posture when you have lost your breath and lost your bandhas.
Just as in the kitchen, in an asana, it is advisable to never go faster than you can keep your mis en place or breath, bandhas, and alignment. Whether it's going deeper than your breath and bandhas are ready to handle or jumping into handstand with an underdeveloped core, the forces of nature, time, gravity, and eventually pain will bring you right back to your mis en place, essentially starting over.
Instead of working against time and gravity, use the power of restraint. Keep your mis en place "tight," and go with your breath, no faster. Use your bandhas and play with gravity. The dance can pick up or slow down, but your concentration and "mis" stay clean. Then you wont be in "the weeds" as much.
Slow is Smooth. Smooth is Fast. - Navy Seals Mantra