Notes on Yoga and Empowerment

Via on Apr 18, 2010

IMG_0031I took a really fun walk today after the first full day of the Vinyasa Flow Intensive with Seane Corn at Kripalu. The intensive itself is good. I am definitely learning. I am trying to use this time to fill up the gas tank to take the journey towards big change. Today I had the realization that I have to go back to life in Chicago. I’ve been looking forward to going back on the mental level, but in another way I live as if the way I am living now is how I live normally. This is truely a vacation. And I realize for the first time what people mean when they say they are back to their “real life” versus being on vacation–because there is a part of me that is ready to get back to my “real life” already. Kripalu is really a wonderful place. It is very easy. If you ever want to spend some time doing yoga, eating good food, and relaxing this is a great place. But I am actually starting to want to go back to my world where I can make a difference. I want to make my life even better. I want to take true responsibility for my actions.

Part of my restlessness this evening is probably related to a realization I had regarding an unconscious belief that I needed to be taken care of. It became apparent that I had been seeking out yoga that took care of me, too. Lately I have been tapping into an aspect of doing yoga that can be more empowering.

Being taken care of is an important aspect of healing. Many of us didn’t get taken care of in just the way we needed to as children, so there can be some woundedness here that calls for healing through support.

There is also healing that is about empowerment. On Saturday afternoon during the Detox Flow program we did a super-long hold in a lunge variation. People were moaning and dropping out of the pose. It was excruciating. I stayed in it the whole time. Then on Sunday morning we talked about it–over 70 of us and Seane Corn. When someone else was talking about their experience I had a realization about mine. Even though I had stayed in it he whole time I realized that I had done it by numbing myself to the experience, somehow I had chosen not to own it. So even though I had fulfilled the instructions I had done it with as little of myself as possible. I felt some pain, and then I left. My body was still doing the pose, but I wasn’t. So I realized that I really had not done it. I was checked out. I also saw that this is how I have dealt with things I didn’t want to do in my life outside of yoga: I have just gone through the motions with as little of myself as possible. So in the practice we did later when the same pose situation came up, I intentionally stayed with it. I really felt all the heat and fire and moving sensations in my thighs. It was so empowering! I did it, really his time. This way of being with the situation says that I choose to do this pose, and this is why it is empowering. When I’m not really doing it with myself and just merely present in class I am like a victim. I am being acted on. I haven’t really chosen to fully participate and yet I am doing it anyway.

I do not want to go through my life feeling disengaged. I want to feel my life and my experiences fully. I don’t want to go into that familliar numb place where I can’t be affected. It really hurts me if I go through my life without feeling it.

It is empowering to feel. It means that I am saying “yes” to things I don’t already know about my life. I am free to discover something new. And to feel I have to allow myself to go into vulnerability. When I protect myself through numbing out it is just like going into a protective shell, a cocoon that dulls my senses. When I allow myself to feel it might be awkward because I can’t predict exactly how something will effect me. To feel means that I am taking a risk. I can’t already know something I am feeling, because feeling is an inquiry, a form of inner listening that is hijacked by imposing what I think I already know onto a situation. I take responsibility for my situation when I choose to feel it.

(From the archives of Yogic Muse…)

About Brooks Hall

Brooks Hall is a Yogic Muse from Chicago, Illinois. In this capacity she teaches Yoga, writes about Yoga, and generally enjoys it. You can find her at: brookshall.blogspot.com.

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11 Responses to “Notes on Yoga and Empowerment”

  1. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for sharing this – lots to think about here. I love the idea that healing can sometimes be about empowerment and that being truly present while practicing can help bring about such empowerment, sometimes quite unexpectedly.

    • Brooks Hall says:

      Thanks, Tiffany! Yes, just like when the body senses that the skin is cut and the physical healing begins, it is also true (I think) that when we allow ourselves to consciously feel our emotions it initiates healing. 

  2. Well done, Brooks. Very glad you're here.

  3. Cherie says:

    People can spend so much time 'checked out' and then wonder why their lives feel hollow or unfulfilling in some vague way. We all have our habitual patterns that we fall into whenever challenged. Yoga cuts through all the static, and allows me to become aware of my habitual patterns & learning to not slip into them unconsciously. Yoga is for people who want to wake up and be alive!

    • Brooks Hall says:

      Yes!
      Cherie: recently, I was freaked by someone who appeared to be going unconscious, though awake right before my eyes. Or was I projecting my own fear? I’m not sure, but I know that I really have to stay with my practice to be as awake and aware as possible. When my practice slips, so do I!

  4. Beautiful post, Brooks. Great to read it again…

  5. EcoYogini says:

    I do love this post Brooks. I’m so glad you’re able to share it with so many people! it was a nice reminder, i often check out of half pigeon…. but maybe it’s time for a bit more mindfulness. (i will retweet :) ).

  6. K B says:

    Thanks for another wonderful post Brooks. You really inspire me to see the 'learning' in life that is available in every moment.
    "I want to feel my life and my experiences fully" …I totally agree, and thanks for reminding me!

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