The darker mornings and early nights are here, with a crisp chill in the air. I hope this finds you warm, well and welcoming a wintery work-in/out (shake it all about). Who could have anticipated we'd be doing the Hokey Corona Cokey?
Without being attached to where we practice, taking time to maintain our practice whilst at the same time exploring a sense of detachment enables an opportunity to stay present and appreciate each practice as a new opportunity for restoring the fuel, we need to keep our internal fire burning. Fanning the flames to allow our inner warmth to energise and radiate externally to those around us. Or maybe a more dynamic sequence and ujjayi breathing means you get a sweat on. Both work, equally valid in their reasons to practice.
What does it mean to work inwardly though, going deeper? It's a personal experience and not something that can be standardised into a sequence. We can start experimenting with this in the literal form of physically moving from posture to posture or staying fixed in one position but by applying the use of deliberate, regulated conscious breathing, to bring the focus inward. From working outwards inwards, we then internally influence the external. By connecting with our deliberate, regulated conscious breath, we adapt the posture (external) to how we feel (internal). A connection, relationship or union. This is one example using the tool of āsana in our practice. There are many aspects and tools of Yoga that can be applied and practised. The most tangible and accessible is predominantly the physical. This helps us to create a stable foundation for further enquiry or take that first "literal" step.
From experience, there are times when Viśeṣa (that which requires special effort) classified poses, which could be; standing, supine, inverted, prone, backward bending, seated or hand balancing deliver a sense of humility and realisation of ego! Also, a sense of fun and exploring the capabilities of the physical body.
However, the fundamental principle when using these poses has to start with suitability and consideration of anatomy and physiology. Also, without deliberate, conscious, regulation of breath, which determines the movement and is the guide by which to apply movement determines if it is appropriate to do. What are the real-life benefits to standing on your head, hands or wrapping your legs around your body with your feet behind your head? It provides us an opportunity to practise detachment, a letting go of the ego! By doing these poses though, doesn't mean we are in a state of Yoga.
Since my last blog, I have continued to explore self-practice and continue to study yoga and immerse myself in exploring the other aspects and tools of yoga. I hope to share these other tools when the opportunity presents itself; highlighting the real life application to enable, enhance and empower self-care. So much of Yoga Philosophy and Vedic Wisdom resonates with the zeitgeist of wellness, mindfulness and mental health of this century. It won't be a surprise to learn that none of these new age ideas are novel concepts. It's re-emerging knowledge that we have perhaps ignored, rejected or been misdirected from. Keep it simple. Investment is dedication and benefits are liberating.
Patañjali references practice succinctly, in sūtras I.12 and I.13
अभ्यासवैराग्याभ्यां तन्निरोधः |
abhyāsa vairāgyābhyāṁ tat nirodhaḥ
That state of Yoga arises out of (regular) practice and detachment.
तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः |
tatra sthitau yatnaḥ abhyāsaḥ
Practice is the appropriate and sustained effort to (reach and) remain there (in the state of Yoga).
Through study and respect of lineage and traditional methods, we acknowledge and understand the real-life application and common sense of the system and it can be appreciated and applied appropriately in its true essence. How do you physically translate that state of unity with the self and the development and kind relationship that can be explored through regular practice? A sense of self awareness, self-compassion, self-enquiry...
...What does it mean to practise? Why did I start to practise? Why am I still practising or why am I not practising? What am I practising for? Who am I practising for? What form does my practice take? Am I attached to my practice? How does my practice make me feel?
I whole heartedly believe Yoga is for everyone and has very real-life application...
...However, not all Yoga is for everyone. What is Yoga? We explore this through all forms of practice.