Category: Reflections on yoga

The Yoga of Intimacy & Delight

It’s my absolute pleasure to share with you a selection of the beautiful Yukti verses (yoga meditation practices) from the ‘Radiance Sutras’, a book by Lorin Roche, over the coming months. The poetic renderings of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra explore 112 gateways to the yoga of wonder and delight.  Through my own studies and practises, I’ve come to feel and understand through first-hand experience the nondual nature of life or existence; there is no separation. We are all intimately connected, and this connection can be experienced as we learn to feel and meet life from our heart, connect being to being, essence to essence. This beautiful book invites us to connect to the divine within and around us through everyday experience. My invitation is to listen to each verse and notice how it lands in the body; feel into your truth and notice how you meet yourself, others, and the world around you. 

Verse one

The one who is intimate to all beings replies, 

Beloved, your questions require the answers that come through direct living experience. 

The way of experience begins with a breath, such as the breath you are breathing now. 

Awakening into luminous reality may dawn in the momentary throb between any two breaths.  

Exhaling, breath is released and flows out. 

There is a pulse as it turns to flow in. 

In that turn, you are empty. 

Enter that emptiness as the source of all life. 

Inhaling, breath flows in, filling, nourishing. Just as it turns to flow out, there is a flash of pure joy – 

Life is renewed.

___________________________

 

You can also listen here.

Take care and go gently,

Gx

Touched by Acceptance, everything changes

What would it feel like to welcome ALL of you into your practice? Not just the parts of your body that work well, not just the positive thoughts and emotions. To truly allow everything to BE as it is! The busy mind, sore lower back, general stiffness and tiredness. What would happen if you met these parts of yourself with acceptance not resistance? Is it possible to notice a feeling of discomfort, a thought of “I wish I was stronger, more flexible”, with openness and curiosity? Perhaps when we let go of struggling with what is, we make space for a different outcome, a new way of being with ourselves.

When we fight or resist our experience, we bring more heat/energy to the circumstance.

As psychologist Kristin Neff puts it, “Suffering equals pain times resistance.”

The amount we suffer in life is the product of the pain itself, multiplied by the amount we resist it.

Suffering = Pain * Resistance.

Letting go of resistance doesn’t mean resigning to it. It’s about accepting that not everything is in your control. In fact, very little is.

So…the next time you find yourself on your mat—notice areas of resistance, whether physical discomfort, mental agitation or life not going as you hoped—explore the practice of acceptance.

  1. Notice when something painful or uncomfortable arises.
  2. Observe thoughts of resistance as they arise (e.g. “This shouldn’t be happening!” / “Why me?!”) and let them pass by.
  3. Come back to your centre by accepting the circumstance as it is. Be fully open to what is here, now.
  4. Bring attention to the physical sensations of the experience. Notice that they’re temporary and will pass.
  5. Continue the practice as life continues to change. Whenever you find yourself holding onto some resistant thought, let it go.

Reference: https://mindfulambition.net/suffering-pain-resistance/ by Kristin Neff

Words matter

 

 

We express ourselves to others and the world around us through communication: who we are, what we believe in, our attachments and aversions. Much of this communication is through gesture, posture and facial expressions, while spoken communication gives voice to our thoughts and feelings. Each “word” is a creative union of thought and energy. Ideas become thoughts, concepts, language and your plans take on the energy to manifest in the world as the actual results of your intent and skill.

Do you honour your own beliefs and speak out when you should? 

Do you talk over others, or not listen well?  

Do you feel shy and afraid to extend your energy into communication?

Talking consumes a huge amount of energy, so choose your words carefully. At times it is appropriate to be quiet, to listen.

When you next speak, T H I N K :

T – Is this Truthful?
H – Is this Helpful?
I – Is this Inspiring?
N – Is this Necessary?
K – Is this Kind?

In yoga, the throat centre, vishuddhi chakra, represents our ability to communicate verbally. A well balanced Throat Chakra will allow you to communicate and express yourself more freely. You will realize that you can trust your inner voice and speak your truths.

Here is a simple hasta mudra (hand gesture) for balancing the energy at the throat. Bring the pads of the thumbs and middle fingers of both hands gentle together forming Akash mudra. As you sit comfortably, spend a few moments to follow the natural rise and fall of the breathe; to feel the body breathing itself easily and naturally. When ready, repeat silently the following affirmations:

akash mudra

 

 

I express my unique qualities each day

I transmit a unique frequency, my voice is heard

My communication is open, clear and harmonious

 

Spend a little time sitting with each and feel when it’s time to move to the next. You may like to simply work with one affirmation, see what resonates with you in the moment. Recording yourself saying the affirmations can be helpful and very powerful; make sure you leave enough time to centre at the beginning and in between each affirmation for the words can “land”.

Namaste

Where Blue meets Blue

I was fortunate to spend a few days down by the beach recently which has inspired this voice recording. There is a real sense of space  at the beach; distant horizons, boats moored off the shore, seabirds in flight and endless stretches of sand. It’s a wonderful place to open yourself to space; between each breath, between your thoughts. As you step slowly and mindfully along the shore, you are drawn into the present through your senses. This heightened awareness of ‘now’ creates mental calm and quiet which is reflected in your body and your breath. This is the union of yoga.

In practice I find patience and peace

More than a physical practice

When people think of yoga, it is often the postures that comes to mind – the physical practice (or Hatha yoga).  For me, yes of course the physical work is important, it helps us feel strong and supple, vibrant and at ease with our bodies.

Yoga, too is a practice of awareness. It is this mindfulness that transcends the physical into a spiritual practice. A teacher of mine often referred to yoga as “Your Own Growing Awareness”. I like that. The wonderful thing is that the discipline we learn on the mat begins to permeate all aspects of our life. We “tune’ into our bodies and mind with a heightened sense of observation and from here anything is possible.

When we navigate the waves of our emotions and the chatter of the mind with increased awareness, we sail an ocean of grace as master of our own ship.

A beautiful poem by Roger Keyes titled ‘Hokusai Says’

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing, you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child, every one of us is ancient, every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive – shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is Life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength is life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

Releasing emotional reactions held within the muscles

When one rests in savasana, we create an opportunity for letting go. Within the knots of our muscles, are emotional reactions from past experiences. As we surrender to stillness and our body begins to relax, these pockets of tension may rise to the surface of our awareness. It is important to make space for these thoughts and emotions, yet to remain unattached: to simply acknowledge and observe them. When the emotional reactions rise to the surface, the energy trapped within them is released. We may, as a consequence experience a sense of lightness and increased vitality.

Allowing 10 – 20 minutes of active relaxation is a wonderful way to begin your yoga practice. Choose simple techniques to focus the mind; watching the breath rise and fall, establishing sama vritti or equal breathing (where the length of the inhalation and exhalation are equal) or repetition of a silent mantra. Having found some level of stillness in body and mind, together with a release of energy trapped within the body as stress and tension, you can move into your asana practice with more ease, awareness and energy.

Namaste and blessings

Let your body sing……….

For a moment imagine the human body as a musical instrument, especially one of the Indian instruments like the Sitar or Sarangi, which have playing strings that are struck or bowed, and also have 40-odd strings which are never played but are sympathetic strings. When the playing strings are struck, they set up vibratory frequencies that begin to sound the finely tuned but un-struck sympathetic strings. These strings pick up the frequency and vibratory rates of the struck notes and begin to sound and create incredible overtones without being physically touched. It is this design that gives these instruments their unique and meditative sound.
The human organism has a similar design. In Yogic terms, we have the central pranic energy channel (shushmana) corresponding to the spinal column. To either side of it are the ida and pingala, the energies of the sun and moon. Think of these as the playing strings. These energy channels then connect with 72,000 nadis (energy channels) loosely corresponding to the nervous system, that extend throughout the body. Think of these as the sympathetic strings. Whatever we vibrate in shushmana begins to set up a sympathetic vibration in ida and pingala and throughout the nadis that transfer that vibration to all the cells of the body.
If we are conscious in our speech and what we are vibrating, we can choose mantra, harmonious communication, and musical sounds that elevate, heal, and balance us.

It’s not how you do the pose that’s important, but what the pose is doing to you

Asana practice is so much more than moving the body physically. Naturally, one’s flexibility and strength will improve, as will the general tone of your body. However a deeper experience is possible when you are immersed in the experience.

You begin by observing and directing the physical body and then move down through the layers or ‘koshas’.

What do I physically need to do to come into the pose safely?

What is required to bring the asana to life? How am I feeling? Is my breath still smooth and relaxed? What qualities is the asana bring to me in this moment?

Reflection and time spent within the asana to observe change and feelings that immerge. Be with the breath and feel the posture ‘come to life’.

Follow the asana with a period of stillness whether in tadasana, vajrasana or savasana to integrate and observe. The observation may include physical sensations or change, emotions, breath awareness (the rhythm and flow), state of mind or perhaps a general feeling or tone that encompasses the whole being – spirit.

Awareness of coming into, being with, releasing and observing the asana will deepen your yoga experience and bring you closer to sattva – inner harmony.

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