When one rests in savasana, we create an opportunity for letting go. Within the knots of our muscles, are emotional reactions from past experiences. As we surrender to stillness and our body begins to relax, these pockets of tension may rise to the surface of our awareness. It is important to make space for these thoughts and emotions, yet to remain unattached: to simply acknowledge and observe them. When the emotional reactions rise to the surface, the energy trapped within them is released. We may, as a consequence experience a sense of lightness and increased vitality.
Allowing 10 – 20 minutes of active relaxation is a wonderful way to begin your yoga practice. Choose simple techniques to focus the mind; watching the breath rise and fall, establishing sama vritti or equal breathing (where the length of the inhalation and exhalation are equal) or repetition of a silent mantra. Having found some level of stillness in body and mind, together with a release of energy trapped within the body as stress and tension, you can move into your asana practice with more ease, awareness and energy.
Namaste and blessings
For a moment imagine the human body as a musical instrument, especially one of the Indian instruments like the Sitar or Sarangi, which have playing strings that are struck or bowed, and also have 40-odd strings which are never played but are sympathetic strings. When the playing strings are struck, they set up vibratory frequencies that begin to sound the finely tuned but un-struck sympathetic strings. These strings pick up the frequency and vibratory rates of the struck notes and begin to sound and create incredible overtones without being physically touched. It is this design that gives these instruments their unique and meditative sound.
The human organism has a similar design. In Yogic terms, we have the central pranic energy channel (shushmana) corresponding to the spinal column. To either side of it are the ida and pingala, the energies of the sun and moon. Think of these as the playing strings. These energy channels then connect with 72,000 nadis (energy channels) loosely corresponding to the nervous system, that extend throughout the body. Think of these as the sympathetic strings. Whatever we vibrate in shushmana begins to set up a sympathetic vibration in ida and pingala and throughout the nadis that transfer that vibration to all the cells of the body.
If we are conscious in our speech and what we are vibrating, we can choose mantra, harmonious communication, and musical sounds that elevate, heal, and balance us.
I have recently returned from a wonderful weekend away. It was organised through Yoga Australia, who welcomed members and non members alike. We shared beautiful food (vegan and gluten free), though I did miss the honey in my chai and a morning coffee. It was wonderful to meet with like minded people; to explore new ideas and share our experiences. The highlight for me was our kirtan with Sacred Earth. Through mantra in songs of devotion, accompanied by the harmonium and acoustic guitar, we explored the sounds of our hearts and minds. I found a deep sense of peace and belonging: a sense of community. Those feelings are still with me today, some five days later.
We also discussed the importance of looking after yourself as a teacher, one who gives to others. A recurring theme was this : “We need to fill ourselves up, so we can give from the overflow”. I was reminded of the importance of active relaxation – walking, gardening and other leisure activities that fill you up.
The experiences of the weekend have filled me to overflowing, a gift I am grateful for. I feel blessed to share my love of yoga with all.
In this week’s classes my focus for the practice was the three gunas. These are the qualities of nature that exist in all life. The rajas, is all movement and stimulating, tamas, is inertia and heaviness and sattva is buoyancy and harmony.
More to come……………
Asana practice is so much more than moving the body physically. Naturally, one’s flexibility and strength will improve, as will the general tone of your body. However a deeper experience is possible when you are immersed in the experience.
You begin by observing and directing the physical body and then move down through the layers or ‘koshas’.
What do I physically need to do to come into the pose safely?
What is required to bring the asana to life? How am I feeling? Is my breath still smooth and relaxed? What qualities is the asana bring to me in this moment?
Reflection and time spent within the asana to observe change and feelings that immerge. Be with the breath and feel the posture ‘come to life’.
Follow the asana with a period of stillness whether in tadasana, vajrasana or savasana to integrate and observe. The observation may include physical sensations or change, emotions, breath awareness (the rhythm and flow), state of mind or perhaps a general feeling or tone that encompasses the whole being – spirit.
Awareness of coming into, being with, releasing and observing the asana will deepen your yoga experience and bring you closer to sattva – inner harmony.