I just came home from a week of quiet on Gabriola Island, completely unplugged from all the glowing rectangular screens. There was considerable beach time, yoga, and rest. The morning after coming home, I had a blow out with a Handy Dart bus driver. I felt disheartened. This is a behaviour pattern that hasn’t come up for a very long time, yelling matches with fellow drivers, that is.
Life and the practice of yoga have provided a new perspective on the vista of experience. When I feel challenged or confronted, I recognize the fear and anger, but I see the heart of the other and my heart, and somehow, confrontation doesn’t happen.
But not this morning. The old way pushed me down into the trunk, slammed it shut, took over the metaphorical and literal driver’s seat. Bamboozled by snake brain.
So, how did this come to be? The quick answer is that I forgot that I am not separate from others. I forgot who I was. Our human condition affords us opportunity aplenty, windows to peer into our Authentic Ground of Being. It is up to us to take pause and consider.
The practice of asana and meditation are deliberate means to this end. The yoga mat is like that window that provides a view of our Selves. “Every act of the body is an act of the soul” – William Alfred This is why a yoga practice never loses its relevance.
But it depends on one’s intention. If you practice yoga because you want pretty triceps, or show off scorpion pose at the next workshop you attend, it is fitness. Nothing wrong with that. But if you practice to go within, there is an opportunity for clarity and conscious living while we bumble through this human condition.
The movement practice of yoga asana profoundly affects the nervous system, which is largely why it feels so good and provides that window to the heart. A balanced practice balances your nerves, upping your chances of seeing clearly.
A hip opening practice in particular, is grounding, both physically and energetically. Anatomically, the hips are where the thigh bones fit into the pelvic sockets, the acetabulum. The muscles of the hips reach out to directly include the legs, pelvis and spine. Fluidity in the hips equals mobility in the low back, and dare I say adaptability in nature. Have you ever met a metaphorical ‘tight ass’ with super mobile hips? I’ve not yet. According to Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, (and I barbarically paraphrase), our beliefs are expressed in our dense connective tissue, emotions in the soft.
By opening the hips, we literally improve our ability to move about in the world. As well, the nervous system calms and we energetically ground ourselves. We up our chances of living more effectively, making clearer decisions.
The following practice is one I made with a dear friend in mind. Having just completed her teaching degree, she is off to a remote First Nations reserve town way up north. I imagine it smelling of fog, cedars and the sea. When we step out of the familiar and comfortable, we are more easily influenced by circumstances. It becomes increasingly important to employ a grounding practice both on the mat and in life. It’s not as if I think she will unplug, or needs my help staying grounded in any way! I just imagine myself in such circumstances, and as well, have this sense that each of our practice is tethered to others who have a consciousness practice. As I imprint my body and intention onto my mat, there is a shift, albeit subtle, in the tapestry of consciousness for me and others. So as I breathe and move today, I dedicate my practice, each pose to my friend. She has a safe place to lean into when, sometime in February, she can’t stop thinking about eating a fresh mango.
Unfurl your mat with me. Sit. Breathe. Check in, and watch. What do you see?