Rehabilitation of a Yogi: Glow With the Flow
August 2, 2011 § 1 Comment
Once you find the ground beneath you – then you can begin to flow. Ground is earth element. Flow is water element. Moving with ease. When an obstacle is in the way slip slither around it. There is much we can learn from water’s unique qualities.
In seated meditation (Shamatha or Peace Abiding) we join our attention with the breath in stillness. As attention is drawn to the breath again and again, small quiet movements become amplified. Watch as the ribs float away on the inhale and come back toward the heart on the exhale. Find a slight constriction in the throat. Acknowledge a protective lift in the shoulders. Realize there’s gripping in the quads and hamstrings. We practice noticing the breath as it is and the body as it is. And we sometimes find that in noticing a palpable release is possible. It may come in the form of a deep sigh, or those shoulders softening away from the ears, or the neck suddenly lengthening, or the collar bones broadening apart to reveal the tender heart of this human warrior. Very little doing is involved. The wisdom of the body guides it back to its natural alignment.
Moving through yoga poses in sync with the breath we create flow or vinyasa (a Sanskrit word with multiple meanings). The arms float up on the inhale and relax down on the exhale. Why is that important? By moving with the breath we connect to the flow, the energy of life. This is one way to get in the zone or in the flow.
The union of movement and breath is yoga. Yoga means union (literally to yoke or tie together). When we practice this way there is unity in the intention and the action. From there we connect to the unity of the mind, breath and body. We notice the breath and we notice life. The sensations of breath in the body is the felt experience of life living.
A vinyasa flow may be fast, may be slow, may feel exciting, may feel boring. By performing simple movements in a sequence and repeating that sequence we find the truth of the present moment. That truth has been there all along, but it is through the practice of yoga, synchronizing the body with the breath, that our mind opens to its own primordial wisdom. That knowing (some call it intuition) is in the body. The breath is a conduit through which the mind is able to hear the body’s secret teachings.
We open the mind through the breath to a deep awareness of the body. Its secrets are infinite yet modest, profound yet simple, assured yet humble, and present, fully present in life as it is right now. The body does not exist in the past or the future. This collection of cells exists now and a moment from now may cease to exist. These nerve endings are quiet now, but a minute later may howl in pain or sigh in pleasure. In our day-to-day lives we ignore the body’s signals – a pain here, a numbness there, a pleasant sensation, a temperature shift. We may notice but we rarely take the opportunity to look deeply. The exceptions are strong sensations, when the pain is too insistent to be ignored or the pleasure too wild to be contained.
It’s all too easy to forget or to disregard our animal nature when we live in a society obsessed with entertainment and stimulation. Animals smell each other, they lick, nip, and nudge. Smell, taste, touch. We humans are focused on sight and sound, the other senses are left out of the equation. What does this person look like? And what is she saying? I must look and listen to know if they’re a friend or foe.
How precious, how restorative becomes that rare and private opportunity to breathe and move our bodies together in sacred silence. Our senses dance and the mind may not be vast enough to catch all the sparkling details of the celebration.
Contact me with questions. Thank you for your comments.