Comparing and Competing: 2 Things to Stop Doing in your Yoga Practice
Could you imagine how radiation for a cancerous tumor might affect our energy level? What about dealing with the very re...READ MORE
Actually, what we are doing is not yoga. Because of the nature of yoga, it cannot be anything one does - not asanas (poses), meditation, not anything. Yoga is the state of mind or state of being while performing the asana, pratayama, meditation, or any other endeavor.
Now that we have established that we are not doing yoga, what are we doing? We are practicing yoga or our "yoga practice." Power Yoga is a sanctuary we come to - to practice and cultivate yoga - which is the state of unity, balance, and peace, which is everybody's deep seeded goal. It's just that some people believe this peace is going to come with outer (monetary and material) accomplishments. These accomplishments can offer many exciting and pleasant experiences, yet, constant peace and balance through ultimately the only channel, self love, they cannot. When peace and harmony exist through self love, exciting and pleasant experiences are not necessary for fulfillment and contentment, because this state already exists!
Any practice that cultivates self love and unity is a yoga practice, whether it's a religion, an art, an experience, or some practice channeled through one's self or another.
Our Power Yoga class exists as an opportunity to develop our foundation in serenity, acceptance (love). All harmony has to begin inside of us before it can spread all around us. Like a flame starts with internal combustion, then shines light and spreads warmth all around.
As one's internal reality (consciousness) starts to shift, only then will the outer skin begin to shine, the eyes to glisten, and the social fabric of our surroundings heal.
Egotistical gratification, in the form of body shape or material gain, simply facilitates disfunction, because, in both cases, one does not need to be loving and accepting of one's self to succeed. Therefor, love and acceptance of others is unlikely and the environment, in which we live, is perpetuated. (This is not anti-affluence, it is pro- consciousness.)
We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world with some of the world's wealthiest people living in our country. Yet, pain and suffering, in the forms of loneliness, fear, anger, disease, crime, poverty, war, and pollution, are all to prevalent. It's time to realign our priorities! The lessons of modern society and the Industrial Age are coming flooding in and they are - Wrong Way, Not a Through Street, Dead End. Can't we read the signs? (This is not anti-technology; this is pro-human, pro-Earth, pro-love.)
If you think it's hard to open up, to let go, to quiet down, to feel, to practice yoga, try living your whole life without it. Welcome to Power Yoga. On the physical side of things, health is a state of balance. This is my body, my tool, my clay. The original function of exercise was to heal or maintain health. It wasn't about looking good so much as feeling good. Now, most exercises have nothing to do with healing and everything to do with looking good, creating even more dis-ease or imbalance by overdeveloping the outer muscles and ignoring the rest. Even the exercises themselves, created to give fast and extreme results, can be damaging. Yoga is about balance, because health is a state of balance.
The practice of yoga is the practice of cultivating balance - mental as well as physical, because they go hand in hand. For example, the largest cause of premature death from disease in our country is heart disease and, some studies indicate, that largest contributor to heart disease is stress. Isn't it interesting that the most prevalent physical ailment is linked to our mental state? You can do all the physical exercise you want, but if you don't deal with your mental state, the physical exercises aren't going to be very helpful. The point being, if being healthy is really your objective, working on your mental state might be more important that the physical. A yoga practice provides for such work.
Using the poses and your experiences within the poses to bring your entire body to an alive vibrant state by activating every nook and cranny of who you are. You know the old saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it." So, we use everything, creating an environment for self-regeneration. The body is not self-regenerative; you have to prod and poke and entice it back to aliveness. In this way, you really get to know yourself, feeling and experiencing all these places, some of them long forgotten or even never known. Our bodies are intricate webs of inner workings, dependent on the vitality of every strand that transmit energy to every other strand. As places inside the body degenerate and atrophy due to lack of use, these strands are no longer conductors of prana (chi or energy) and these places become ample breeding grounds for disease and decay. In yoga, there is a saying, "We overdevelop nothing, but use everything." There is no practical need to overdevelop a muscle, but activation is necessary for regeneration. Remember, this is about feeling good, not looking good, although looking good is a common by-product.
Many people think that yoga is about flexibility, but the truth is it has nothing to do with flexibility; it's more about activity and elasticity. Elasticity is a state of suppleness, whereas flexibility is a judgement in comparison to a certain paradigm. The thing is, our bodies are completely unique; we cannot have an objective standard. Suppleness, we could say, is personal flexibility, which might look a whole lot different than standard flexibility. When the musculature is supple and relaxed, the skeleton will fall more naturally into place (alignment). When that occurs, our prana (energy) moves freely through the meridians (lines of energy) and, when our energy moved more freely through our entirety, we feel something very special called lightness. In the dual sense of weightlessness and energy.
Yet, as we use these poses to enliven and release the body of tension and toxins, we need to challenge our mind not to produce any more. Remember, stress is a huge inhibitor of health (balance). So, doing the poses is one things, but how we do them is the key; that's the yoga, the state of mind behind all things. The outer environment in which I live, is a reflection of the inner environment in which I live. The yogis traced back the root of all misery and, the seed from which that root stemmed is attachment. And, what am I more attached to than me and my body? I have this image of myself and, when I can't maintain it, a whole lot starts to surface. A yoga practice tends to prod and poke at that image, forcing one to experience limitations and boundaries not normally experienced. It's hard to experience my limitations and boundaries, because they are not always congruent with this image I have of myself. There also tends to be judgement, frustration, fear, and a lot of reactiveness. The practice purposely creates the environment for these feelings to arise as an opportunity to eradicate them. the eradication process begins with our awareness of them and then bringing our awareness to our breath, feeling them but not feeding them. Soon, they become less powerful due to the lack of food (mental energy and unconscious loyalty) we give them. The weaker they become, the less we experience them and their dark manifestations in the outer world.. The less reactive we become, the more accepting we are of ourselves and others, as well as experiences, and the more peace (balance) and harmony pervades our life. Tension (stress) begins to cease and our bodies start to release. And I begin to really shine!
"All struggles become challenges to be accepting, and peace and harmony pervade regardless of outside circumstances"
- Tsek Nayrb