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Sunny salutations & warrior clear vision be yours! Thanks to all of you who have been so kind and so generous in the past few weeks while my beloved & I were getting married. Your bouyant, luminous energy has blessed us palpably. Since I deeply believe, as my phone message says!, that all things can bring us to yoga, the wedding has turned my mind toward the root meaning of yoga as “union”.
Union implies a prior duality, but makes no assumptions about how the duality has come to be. The duality may be actual or merely perceived, and different yoga traditions and philosophies take different stands on this as a metaphysical point. The tradition which resonates most with me (Tantric Shaivism… well represented in Splendor of Recognition) focuses on the inherent unity of all Being and acknowledges differentiation as a moment necessary for self awareness.
While unity is our native state – unity with self, with cosmic bliss and consciousness – our dividedness – self from self, from objects, from universal perception – is necessary for reflection. We have to have divisible moments to be able to look forward and backward. We have to be able to look in either direction to be aware of feeling states and tones, to experience anything at all.
The clearest way to achieve division is through opposition. This & not this. Dark & light. Here & there. Gradations are perceived against this ground.
Yoga – hatha yoga, pranayama, body-grounded-meet-yourself-on-the-mat practice – gives us a palpable way to play on the ground of opposition. Once we’ve made considered distinctions, a new level of awareness is reached by re-alizing the inherent unity that allows consciousness to apprehend the divided objects. In yoga we are playing on the poles between sun & moon, ha-tha, up & down, back & front, inner & outer. Bodies fly up, legs reach down. Arms reach out, sternum expands. Bottom legs press in, upper legs press out. Ball mounts press down, arches fly up. In the opposition of forces we play with in our bodies, we are able to feel, directly experience, a sense of unity arising in the theatre prepared by all of our directed efforts. A new sense of clarity can surprise us amidst the focused attention and directed efforts of embodying this union of opposites.
So viva la difference! and in the exploration, celebration, tension and frustration of difference, take a moment to breathe and notice yoga. Your yoga. Namaste, Christine
Relaxation and attention are complexly related. Yesterday we used guided attention to passively relax muscles after almost an hour of very focused attention to breathing and body posture. Recursive consciousness – our ability to be aware of our experience at a level different from that experience – can either contribute to or help us ease our stress and knots. Thinking about our experience leads to worry and second guessing if we are focused on the past or the future or on how we appear to others (our insecurities and defending them). However, if we use our reflective ability to notice our ongoing experience at it goes on, we learn to use our body-minds as experiments in bliss. What happens if we notice this? What happens if we change just this one little thing? What happens if we let go of this other little thing?
Whatever is there when you begin to observe your stream of direct experience is likely to bring up emotions – you might like it, or you might not. You might be proud of it or embarrassed by it. These reactions in turn usually beget further planning or defending. How about just noticing? There aren’t many guaruntees in life, but it’s guarunteed that if you just notice how you feel and react, your feelings and reactions will change without your planning or defending. And then, if you just notice those feelings and reactions, they will morph again. If your choices are to reject or embrace, think about embracing the feeling or reaction like you would a small child with the same feeling; you don’t have to approve of or agree with the child to embrace them. The embrace is the beginning of healing. That’s all.
We always begin class by noticing our breathing and then experimenting with directing the breath, sometimes to a specific place, other times in a specific pattern or rhythm. We practice asana while noticing how it changes our experiences of our own bodies. Yesterday we closed class by directing ourselves to relax specific areas of the body, each in turn, beginning with the brain. You can direct yourself in this same manner any time you need your brain to take a break. Occupy it with focusing on your current experience in specific areas of your body.
I’m so glad to spend this time with you! Thank you for being present.
Let me know if you have specific times during which you’d like a yoga class. I’ll take it into account when I plan my expanding schedule.
Tonight’s class we worked on movement with breath and turning the senses inward to how our body feels inside out… the only way that matters.
Bumble Bee Breath (Brahmari) is a meditative breathing practice to help us focus on sense withdrawal. Once our senses aren’t connected to outside stimulation we have a much better chance of witnessing truthfully our inner world and treating it with kindness (satya & ahimsa).
We focused on spinal mobility, opening and closing with front-opening spinal stretches. These are heart openers and help to elevate our moods as well as ease breathing.
I am honored by your presence and would also welcome your comments on what worked, what didn’t and how you felt after tonight’s class.
May your week bring you experimentation, observation and joy at whatever your findings may bring. Here’s to living “like a lion, completely free of all fear.” Namaste. cb