Yoga, a path with depth encouraging us to renounce limitations, is a noble path to embark upon. Where do we begin? Many of us start this journey learning the basic postures as a way to address the physical body, improving flexibility and strength. Others might look for tools to calm the mind, reduce worry and anxiety, and discover, at best, who they are and what gives their life meaning.
What do these shapes that we create with our bodies really have to offer? Is there an innate wisdom and latent messages within each posture we assume, and if so, how do we contact that place? When we stand in Warrior pose, for instance, how do we become the warrior? What strength needs to be cultivated in our life to meet the challenges of a particular situation? This asana has a gift to give. We step our feet apart, lift our arms, stretching out from the shoulders, and look forward, off into the distance. Hinging at the knee we engage the legs, we settle down into our stance. We arrive, breathing, focusing with a soft gaze. Standing in Warrior 2 our strength increases. How can that strength be applied and integrated?
Every asana contains a message and has a power more than meets the eye. The way we approach practice influences what will be received. All of the benefits are given to us, if we do our part. What does it take to do our part? Through dedication and perseverance we change, coming to understand what each pose mean to us, what they are here to teach. Through inquiry coupled with an ever-expanding awareness we might touch that “something more”.
Even if Yoga is approached solely on the physical level we undoubtedly impact other aspects of the body-mind. Sometimes, we can sense this: thoughts normally running a mile per minute begin to slow down; we might have a better hold on emotions and more of a capacity to discriminate and apply the power of choice in how we respond to the moments of life. Perhaps other times, we wonder: is this really having an impact on the person I am becoming? How do I know that I am changing?
Retreating into our shell, we sit. Weaving arms under legs, the head drops and neck releases towards the feet. Tortoise pose, an invitation to turn inwards. This can been seen in the shape of the body: we are no longer looking out but rather within. The back and inner legs stretch; breathe moving to impact the state tension that has been carried. Is the turtle tense? How do they move through the world? What can be learned from this ancient creature? Slowing down and resisting temptation there is a space to pause, to just be. We have the opportunity to withdraw and retreat, to inquire: how do I come back to my center? How do I navigate the waters of imagination, of fear, of desire?
The body is perceptive, brilliant, intelligent. It takes in and is altered by thought, by word, by deed. As an alive system it balances many working parts contained within its wholeness harmoniously. The body, a spiritual tool for our evolution and development. Is there something more that happens on the mat? The turtle knows there is. The turtle has access to the depth of the ocean, a place of great mystery to us who only see the surface. How do we dive beyond the surface of our practice into this world of possibility, of potential?
We lie in corpse pose, dropping into the omnipresent awareness and dying to the rest of the world. In the simplicity of the pose we return to that place within ourselves that knows how to rest into being without doing a thing. And yet we do not die. Awareness is a key to receive the innate intelligence within the body and connect with the force behind every movement we make on and off the mat. How do you unlock Yoga?