The insight I shall henceforth imparteth to thee will completely change the way you experience your Yoga practice… Should thou feeleth receptive…eth. Without the simple awareness I am sharing, which is like opening the exit door of an extremely small stuffy room, your practice will remain relatively limited, even if you do get impressively pretzely in that tiny room.
When yoga postures were created, the yogis who endowed us with the incredible physical postures we’ve grown to love (or hate) were not being told what to do… by a person. They were not focused on doing postures at all. They were focused on “listening” with their whole beings directly to the intelligent field of awareness which informs all things. They were focused on the Source of all yoga postures. They were focused on Yoga. Huh?
Yes, I know I’ve said it countless times before, but it needs to be said again because we are up against the momentum of copious amounts of people, studios, and teachers over decades who are convinced that yoga is stretching. Yoga is NOT stretching gosh durnit! In fact, you can’t DO yoga at all! Yoga does YOU! It’s like when we say “I had an orgasm” in actuality, you didn’t have and orgasm… the orgasm had you! That’s what orgasm is… the momentary surrender of the familiar, yet stifling, "little" self (ego) which then allows you to open up to the bliss of Life which is always orgasming with or without your consent… In this, everything is flipped from our normal perception of being a person having experiences to a person being experienced by something infinitely bigger! Which is bliss… if even for a few seconds. ahem…
Well, just like you can’t fake orgasm… you can’t fake Yoga…asm. Yoga is meant to be the practice of (what I would call) “Sourcing”. Or you could call it the practice of Surrender. The practice of Awareness. The practice of aligning to the Source of everything! And whatever it is that you might be doing physically… You can practice Yoga (capital “Y”). But like everything else in our culture we have downsized the size-less into a technique, methodology, and system. Then we practice the system as opposed to accessing the Source from which the system was originally birthed in order to allow us to gain access to the Source again. That’s what I mean by “Sourcing.” But we ain’t doin’ it. Why kids? “BECAUSE YOU CAN’T DO IT” (little kid voices). That’s right kids!
It’s the same reason so many are rejecting religion. It has become obvious that the religions we worship have departed so far from their sacred roots (Source Teachers and Source Teachings) and become suffocatingly fundamentalist (aka. dogma) and even violent, that we react (Naturally) with the rejection of the religion (if even naively). And as with so many of the world’s AMAZING Wisdom, the baby is thrown out with the bathwater! We gave away the Wisdom to the ones who eclipsed it's amazing gift to humanity. Not unlike children rebelling against their parents but shooting themselves in the foot. Yoga in our culture is like this too. Many are rejecting what Yoga is not (Thinking that's what yoga is). But then they don't get to experience what Yoga actually is...
So you proud pretzels out there may not like me very much for saying it (you’ve worked very hard at being able to perform such impressive physical feats), but what we call “yoga” has indeed defaulted into the same category of eclipsed Wisdom. Meanwhile, those of you who have been down on yourselves for “not having the discipline” or "will power" to brave a yoga class can finally lose that discouraging inner critique and see that perhaps you have actually been true to yourself, even if you didn’t know why. Cause what we’re calling yoga on a mass scale… Sorry folks… is far too often the opposite.
Hence, the intention behind this blog... You may be getting a good exercise in your local yoga class. And you may even feel good afterwards. And I’m not putting that down. It’s perfect, for what it is. But I’m trying to save Yoga from “exercise yoga” without giving up the postures. I want you to understand the difference between yoga postures as we know them versus Yoga Postures as they are meant to be. We are used to yoga postures being precise forms which we must learn how to do “correctly” in order to feel we are proper yogis… or at the very least, pleasing the teacher. These kinds of yoga poses, unless done in the right awareness, are im-POSE-itions. To DO yoga postures in an egoic state of mind is, to put it bluntly, posture-ing.
Think of the process. The teacher uses words to describe where to put what. For example, “Step your right foot forward and bend your knee to 90 degrees. Reach your hands to the sky and put them together. Drop your shoulders, engage mula banda, and try not to fart.” With pained, or at least, very serious looking faces, the very well-intentioned and earnest students take the rather technical sounding verbiage in through their ears, and generate a kind of piecemeal mental visual of what the posture is "supposed" to look like. Either that, or they see that one chick who always rolls her mat out in the front of the room beautifully executing virabadrasana with ray of heavenly light showering down upon her perfect form while a choir of angels softly serenades her ascension into yoga heaven.
Then they take all that in and tell their bodies to “match” the visual generated in their minds, which may or may not be something their body is ready for, and anxiously wait for the teacher to call the next pose while they breathe like something akin to a person braving constipation. But hey, that’s the best we got right? I know… that is a gross generalization. But you can relate to it right!? What is universal in what I’m describing are the mechanisms we use for “teaching yoga” which is to say, teaching postures. And the effect is not pretty. Yet because we can endure it, it slips past the radar and we keep on doing it. And the term "yoga injury" is, meanwhile, climbing the charts!
Step one. Be honest with yourself. Just because you can endure a yoga posture does not make it good! But can you admit that to yourself in the moment when you are waiting for the posture to be over? If you answered “yes,” please proceed to the next level. If you answered “no,” your honesty is exemplary… please proceed to the next level.
Once you admit to yourself that you are suffering the moment, you can see the mechanism that puts that in place. The egoic drive to perform, you might call it. Now, ego sounds like a harsh word, but it is really the best word for the mental construct of the "self" we generate from birth and identify with as who we are. So when I say “ego”… it’s not like some kind of insult from which you need defend yourself. It’s totally normal. We all do it… all the time.
We think, “I’m going to do this pose because I want to get flexible because being flexible is better than being… not flexible. I’m going to do this pose with all my might even though my body is screaming because I have the will power to endure it and then I will be proud of who I am cause I can say ‘I did that.’ ” That’s ego.
Yoga is defined as the quieting of the ego mind. If your ego is running the show and you don’t even know it… you’re screwed… by none other than you! Through being honest with yourself about how you are really feeling in the moment, you can begin to identify when you are imPOSEing your ego agenda on your body. Since we have established that that is not only NOT yoga… But it is the OPPOSITE of yoga, we can opt out of that insanity and begin using the postures as they are meant to be used…. not as finite destinations, but as fractal pathways into Source.
I’m using the word “fractal” as that which the ego mind, in all its linearity, cannot comprehend. Like when someone says, “I can’t wrap my head around it” I always say, “good!” Cause that’s the the point. That’s Yoga. It is the unwrapping of your ego head so that you can finally open your Mind to Source Yoga. I’m not putting down the yoga poses. In fact I use many of them as tools in my class. But I am also aware that they are not destinations, or shapes that I want to cram my students into. I treat them as “portals of exploration” or offerings through which my happy students can feel free to…well…. FEEL!
I must “unpack” the power of feeling in another blog… it is such an amazing topic. But in short, feeling is rad! It’s the whole point. The ego yoga posture is perpetuating our anesthetized state (which is the result of ego minding in the first place) and it is not helping us. If we really want to experience Yoga (not do yoga as an ego), we must remember that we are feeling! And we must also understand that feeling is direct information from the Source… From the field. It’s how we communicate with our physical body. And it is how we communicate with our physical body not as a finite separate unit, but rather, as an “interface” with the Source.
If you ever thought, “God, I wish my body could talk to me!” it is!…. all the time… And when you know it, you stop imposing your ego-based yoga poses on your body and start making Yoga Pose Offerings. You start to listen to the feedback of your body and you begin a dialogue which otherwise could not unfold within the rigid confines of technical ego yoga.
Your breath will inform you as well. “Constipation breath” is a swell indication that ego agendas are running. You’ve put the cart before the horse again. The horse in this case is the ability to feel… which goes hand in hand with listening, honoring your body, deep breathing etc.
Back to Fractal. A fractal is typically associated with a curve or geometric figure that repeats itself at smaller and smaller (or bigger and bigger) levels infinitely… Like everything in nature and in our universe. Our postures should not create an experience of contraction and isolation from the fractal nature of reality. Rather, it should be an opportunity to join the dance of the cosmos. It should be an opportunity to let the orgasm have us!
The difference is in the question… who is doing it? The ego with its superficial linear agendas, or the Yoga self, let’s call it, who humbly surrenders the ego drives to allow the sacred unfolding of their non-finite (infinite) body in an ever-deepening communion with the whole? It has to be the latter... or it is just not yoga. SO… what I’m saying could quite possibly put me on the international yoga hitlist! Because you can’t get around it. Most of the yoga (little “y”) being practiced out there is blocking Yoga, albeit innocently. It’s just a fact. And we need to gain the literacy of what Yoga actually is in order to truly activate our well-intentioned efforts to teach it. Period.
In the meantime, whatever your studio or teachers might be up to. You can take what I’m sharing here and begin to liberate your yoga practice with every breath and every posture.
Be honest with yourself… Are you pushing? Are you waiting? Are you enduring? If the answer is yes, ease up and identify the ego agenda that’s running.
• Treat the posture as an offering… not a goal!
• Prioritize feeling… NOT performing!
• Celebrate that you can feel and you will feel even more!
• Slow down so you don’t miss the “whispers” of your tissues!
• Prioritize your relaxed breath and sacrifice it for nothing. If you commit to this, you will not be able to impose!
• Discover the “fractal pose” by surrendering the obsession with adhering to the rigid linear shape of the technical posture.
This allows us to explore freely and unleash the Living yoga posture which is dynamic and evolving rather than static, fixed and therefore rigid and unnatural feeling. Enjoy! It’s just the beginning!
Written by Näthan Gangadean © 2014