Yoga Training is essential for Everyone
As we come upon another year of Life School at Giggling Lotus, I have contemplated the many benefits that a serious yoga practice has to offer. From the gross to the subtle, the thorough nature of Yoga is profound and has lasting effects. Because Yoga is a unitive practice, it engages all of your aspects and helps you become aware that you are not separate but instead part of a greater whole.
At the grossest level, asana practice is a renewing activity, like shedding your skin on a regular basis. All of your cells become bright and renew as your generative energy and metabolism are stimulated from the physical movement. You can realize your own grace in movement as you become more embodied. Your sense of your body in space becomes acute and transforms the quality of how you move. Internally, your physical self becomes more pliable as the joints, like open door ways, allow the free movement of energy. As a result, the organs and your inner physical world are being consistently fed by your amazing circulating energy and you can experience a greater sense of ease even when you are still.
For the emotions the body can become a dense storage room. A yoga practice facilitates the safe and willing release of emotions that are being held in the body. If you are holding emotions in the tissues of your body you are more likely to become destabilized by them and potentially act out through anger or aggression. Yoga teaches gentle acknowledgement and acceptance of present emotions and gives you a sense of space to harmonize them. Coupled with the diminishing duality of Yogic philosophy, the swing between the extremes is reduced greatly and you begin to realize that all emotions have value.
Your energetic body, vitality or prana are greatly increased in your direct experiences from practicing Yoga. Pranayama (breath practice) facilitated by the vayus, or winds (lets call them intentions) serve the energetic body. All of your cells need energetic nourishment and Yoga cultivates an inner-environment that allows for better sustainability, energy absorption and fewer blockages. Your unencumbered clear intentions and actions are creating greater efficiencies. You learn these skills on-the-mat and eventually you will begin to see yourself applying them off-the-mat.
Disciplining the mind through meditation (the original sole practice of Yoga) is, in a way, an insurance program that will help protect you from over-reacting and instead to regard difficult situations through a lens of equanimity so that you can act skillfully. That is what practicing Yoga really is: Skill in Action. After releasing blockages physically and emotionally, you are then able to direct your mind rather than it directing you. The fog and mist will be cleared and as a result, clarity of mind and an ability to see the patterns and habits that you have cultivated in your lifetime are revealed. Only then can they be changed to the betterment of YOU and your direct experience of being.
Clear the fog.
Most importantly, the practice of Yoga nourishes your spirit, helps you abide in the present moment, and dwell in the body that you have with great skill. You begin to dis-identify with your patterns of reactivity so that you can recognize your own spaciousness and luminosity. Then, your essential nature, your beauty and wholeness are revealed.
This poem by Pablo Neruda is I think a beautiful metaphor for the possibility of experiencing wholeness, rather the dark Berlin winter. Your light, too, is waiting to be revealed.
From the window I saw the horses.
I was in Berlin, in winter. The light
had no light, the sky had no heaven.
The air was white like wet bread.
And from my window a vacant arena,
bitten by the teeth of winter.
Suddenly driven out by a man,
ten horses surged through the mist.
Like waves of fire, they flared forward
and to my eyes filled the whole world,
empty till then. Perfect, ablaze,
they were like ten gods with pure white hoofs,
with manes like a dream of salt.
Their rumps were worlds and oranges.
Their color was honey, amber, fire.
Their necks were towers
cut from the stone of pride,
and behind their transparent eyes
energy raged, like a prisoner.
There, in silence, at mid-day,
in that dirty, disordered winter,
those intense horses were the blood
the rhythm, the inciting treasure of life.
I looked. I looked and was reborn:
for there, unknowing, was the fountain,
the dance of gold, heaven
and the fire that lives in beauty.
I have forgotten that dark Berlin winter.
I will not forget the light of the horses.