See the thing is I’ve been observing recently how there’s a lot of people getting all tied up in knots about the discipline of getting ….erm tied up in knots.
Recently I was approached by a student of mine following a busy class I teach. She said she loved the physical energy of asana but at the same time felt that there was something else happening on a deeper level that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. The problem being (as she put it) that when she tried to relax or engage with the more meditative aspects of the practice she quickly arrived at frustration and anxiety.
‘Why is this a problem?’ I probed…she looked a bit bewildered at my response and said ‘well it’s not real yoga is it?’.
It made me ponder the philosophy that true yogis ‘should’ transcend the body ultimately and move towards higher states of consciousness and how so many seem to get upset with the idea that asana has become the most dominant, media-savvy limb of yoga. But this isn’t a blog on the instagram yogi..because I think generally we’re all now familiar with every side of that debate aren’t we?
Going back to the conversation with my student – I asked her what it was she liked about the physical practice of yoga and she said:
‘when I’m in it, I’m not anywhere else’,
’So would you say you’re absorbed with what it is you’re doing?’,
‘Yes that’s exactly it, I feel…in the moment’.
A few years ago I realised I wasn’t ‘in it’. I’d become so familiar and conditioned to the practice that somehow I’d managed to disconnect and switch to auto pilot without even realising it. For countless reasons I couldn’t continue like that, yoga had always meant so much to me and I knew that if I continued to detach I would eventually stop practicing altogether. So I decided to slow it down, to the point where I had to concentrate so much on every little sensation and bubble of emotion rising within me that I just couldn’t be anywhere else, the result was that I became so incredibly focused and absorbed by what I was doing, that I became aware of all of the stuff I was trying to avoid. It became a powerful tool for personal transformation.
…and this to me is the practice of yoga…because practice leads to focus, which leads to a state of absorption and when you feel that beautiful/ sometimes painful/ sometimes melancholic/ sometimes nothing state of being, you’re able to move beyond the body and all of the attachments to the physical towards the other limbs of yoga – withdrawal of senses, concentration, meditation….and so on.
The bottom line, is that we as practitioners often have no idea where we are on this curve and often all we can do is just show up and do the practice. Start with the physical; start with what’s immediately available to us and maybe move in…
Hello my name is Naomi and I’m addicted to asana. I know one day my body will leave me but until that day I’ll be working with it, through it and beyond it. ”