What’s our practice objective?
It seems as though I should be offering a column on exposing Yoga’s “Dark Side,” but to be honest, being that negative would be a nightmare.
Trust me—I’ve already tried.
Instead, I’d like to offer up some food for thought, which I hope will spark an affirmation that we are already on the holy path of yoga, (or union).
I’m going to jump around a little here, so bear with me.
First off, let us take a posture: How about Triangle Pose, as an example.
When in class we may see 30 other people bending sideways to touch their right toe, and here we are, putting along trying to get our bearings, feeling a little awkward with the guy next to us rocking a speedo with a tattoo up his neck and gold teeth: (ahem, yeah that would be me).
Anyway, we seem to be at a yoga class, and we better do the yoga asana, so we hop to it and yoga the shit out of that Triangle Pose exactly as we see “Speedo-Guy” doing it.
One fully expressed Triangle Pose at full depth: bam! We think to ourselves, “I just did Yoga!”
Well, hate to burst the bubble, but…yoga just did us.
Our body enters the asana and somewhere along the journey of the asana exploration, we discover there is some tension in our (fill in the blank).
Do we stop and examine? Or do we push through with strength, in hopes of consciously achieving the apparent “goal” of expressing the triangle pose fully?
What we should know is that asana is truly a journey (not a destination) to find electrical charges sent from subconscious fears that are creating continual contraction, or tension.
One of the tricks of the subconscious is being subjected to a frantic mind, designed to work without our direct instruction or focus. We may find ourselves multi-tasking instead of fully focusing or being present.
This deeply seeded fear is a part of our psyche: a circuit within the body, mind and life, perpetuating itself and even growing, as we come to notice the things we ignore tend to grow cyclically until we acknowledge them.
Let’s keep in mind that every cell in the body is “contractual,” even our organs rely on this electrical contractual stimulation to function. Through the practice of yoga, we have an opportunity to address these tensions with love and attention.
This means we have discovered through our asana practice a signal, often associated with pain, that something is wrong and needs attention in order to return to, let’s say, our “perfectly aligned state.”
Okay, so keeping in mind the concept of continual fear which equates to misalignments, which later equates to imbalances in our body, and therefore life, we may now move into what I mean by “yoga doing us.”
So we’re tearing right through those tight muscles and entering our poses with force, but at this point we are most likely doing more damage than not.
See, in the exploration of yoga we are searching for an opportunity to communicate on a very intimate level with ourselves. The deepest, darkest fears are manifesting in our body from thoughts being fed from the mind, and the body retorts with scar tissue to fortify the area—so we have actually strengthened the fear by using force.
Yoga just did us!
Eventually, we will learn—the hard way. (Yeah, I’m also that guy).
We see how our ego, or misdirected minds, have created more of a problem by feeding the monster. So instead of that, let’s try the more humble, gentle approach.
I’m not saying don’t aim for depth. I am saying stop and be honest with yourself, no matter how ninja the guy next to you is. This honesty will take you where you want to go and you will reach your goals of ascension.
This is why we are in the yoga class in the first place—right? To become the master of our domain, universe, and endocrine system; creating all the naturally-induced psychedelic drugs we could ever want, all right there in one little place: our temple, the body?
Sure, it’s going to only come with a lot of hard work—or it could come with a little smart work. For those of us who are weekend warrior yogi’s (I know you’re out there), I’ll be the first to say this: we cannot separate one from the other.
Yoga means what again? Union.
So here we come to my source of inspiration for this column:
Healing is truly what we are doing in our yoga practice.
We are healing our minds, and our lives, by bringing our bodies closer to that perfectly aligned state so that we may be in harmony with the all-encompassing song of life playing throughout the universe. But my continual yoga practice, and not just asana, rather than anything that aligned with the goal of growth towards enlightenment, truly did me.
As I noticed the small signs beginning to manifest in my life, I knew something was coming, speaking to me like a song from intro to ending. I was guided into my personal practice, which I later realized was to deal with what caused me to procrastinate, getting to my duty of writing this column. But, as they say, it often gets worse before it gets better.
Something I had been denying, a blockage I was holding onto that had served me in the past, was dislodging from my mind. Not a realization yet, but something I’d been ignoring was expressing itself in discord with what my mind wanted, and the old habits lingering showed up as misaligned primary skeleton issues.
In this dislodging, I could not even stand or move. I could only breathe and be humbled by this misalignment in my life.
At this point, as I am accustomed to doing healing body work on others, I began to address my body in the areas that correlated with my mental shift. The clarity from letting go of old patterns allowed me to work on the physical area and communicate with it so I could let it go and stop the continual signal of fear. Up to this point, it had been a chain reaction, my physical body leading me to insights of how old patterns have been getting in the way of my life.
Now can we see how it seems impossible to then to “do yoga”?
Yoga is a series of tools and instructions, a holy science of connectedness and the postures are structured-systems of maintaining our awareness with precise instruction that should be passed on to all of those practicing.
Let’s get simple:
We go to yoga class. We practice gentle communication with our tight muscles via asana. We find a way to unlock the mind and body through exploration, discipline, and self-love. Then we realize how we have been acting through these shifts. Ultimately we start making better decisions in our life to align with our current goals, without being driven or limited by fear, and then life gets better and we feel great!
Can we really do yoga then?
The teachings of yoga are a tool we may utilize to aid our journeys. Used incorrectly, yoga can, and will, put us in our place. Like playing with fire, every time we breathe the furnace gets hotter. So, we must learn to let go, to make room for the new, and practiced exploration of the psyche should be done with one thing in mind:
Be compassionate so that we may be fearless, not the other way around. But If we forget this little tidbit, don’t worry. Yoga will be there, doing us the whole way.
Pirate: One who would try or risk attack in the name of freedom.
Yogi: A dispeller of darkness, and the explorer of the universal oceans.
Crew: Those who work together to sail the vessel on that journey.
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Assistant Editor: Kathryn Ashworth/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant media library