For thousands of years, yoga has been a tool to open the mind and body, bringing about great transformation. At its very core, yoga is a process that involves confronting your limits and mindfully going beyond them. It's a practice that leads to greater self-understanding and inner peace, which then becomes a peace that you share with the world. Ok, so I can hear you ask, "That's all well and good, but HOW does it do all that?". Here's my take on it:
Yoga begins to transform us by undoing the physical and mental obstacles and knots that block our energy, thoughts and potential. Transformation is a process - sometimes fast, sometimes slow and methodical - that restores and renews us. The transformation that yoga sparks can bring us closer to our true nature and make us feel, act and be more like our true selves: loving, compassionate, kind and connected to everything. When we become more and more familiar with the part of us that is pure and peaceful, we begin to live more closely aligned with that more harmonious expression of ourselves. Yoga teaches us to hone and refine our thoughts, actions, speech and awareness which then releases our true essence.
At its deepest level, yoga involves generating and moving energy and awareness. We often misunderstand the idea of energy. Being the type-A modern humans that we are, we often think that we have to push the body in order to get into the postures or punish ourselves mentally in order to gain greater understanding and clarity, when in reality it's the other way around. We use the postures to transform the body and to listen to its messages. We use observation and awareness to understand the mind. We surrender and wait for an invitation from a deeper source to proceed. I learned over the years (sometimes the hard way) that approaching postures and meditation as goals makes you less sensitive to the messages your body and mind are trying to send you. If you push too hard and fast instead of allowing your body/mind to open at its own pace, change cannot occur. But, if you focus on the process instead of the results, progress and opening come naturally.
Yoga teaches us to tune into the energy we are made of and to use that energy to transform. Your manipura chakra (which is located at/near the solar plexus) is the source of your will, your imagination, your vision of the future, and your desire for action (the fire in your belly!). It is here that we come to terms with the past and "burn" away accumulated negative energy associated with past decisions, ideas, actions (think of digestion!). The heat of manipura is used creatively to transform negative qualities into positive ones.
Last week in class, we used this transformative "fire" energy to purify our bodies, minds and spirits. Using fire building pranayama techniques such as bhastrika and kapalabhati (see video below) we stoked our inner furnaces and created the energy needed to move the heat and burn away blockages. Mixing steady vinyasa with longer held standing poses centered around the breath, we created focus and opening, leaving us feeling refreshed and renewed.
What would you like to transform into? Set a clear intention then tap into the inner wisdom and will power that resides deep within you to move in the direction of your deepest desire.
Until next time...
Sunday's Fire Playlist:
"Invocation"- Manju Jois
"Les Chant Des Fauves"-Tinariwen
"Keepin' It Real"-Shaggy
"Ganesh Is Fresh"-MC Yogi
"Dub In Light"-Telepath
"Jaia Ganesha-Dum Dum Project
"Punjabi Five-O-Dum Dum Project
"Groove Holmes"-The Beastie Boys
"Brick House"-Sara K.
"1st One Out"-Brian Carson
"Without Standing"-Lusine LCL