In the classic medieval text the “Hatha Yoga Pradipika” or The Guiding Light of the Yoking of the Sun and Moon – we learn that in classical yoga, the practice of Hatha Yoga culminates in the body’s resonance with the sound of “Om”. We are tuned by the practice to a vibration where opposites are united and revealed as facets of one source. That state of unity creates a particular feeling tone. In my experience when that happens, we are feeling the love of the universe within our own form. To do this, the biochemical aspect of the body requires cleansing (diet and various cleansing practices – the shat karma kriyas – the process of sweating during practice), the musculoskeletal system needs to be toned and balanced, and the energy body, emotions and the mind require discipline and clearing through meditation and sound practices (Om) and adjustments in personal care and ways of relating. I know it sounds like a lot, but for most of us we do a little at a time, transforming at a pace that is appropriate for us. The result of this is a clear “sound”. We can hear it in the sound of our voice. We can also hear it inside us as our intuition and wisdom become illuminated. A common test is to listen to your Om at the beginning and end of the class. Or any old time you feel out of tune. This clarity of resonance or lack there of is key to our capacity to communicate. If you’ve ever tried to sort things out with a friend when you felt foggy day you know it’s more difficult than when you are awake and clear. The body is a communication device – not just with our tongues and mouths, but with our posture, the brightness of our eyes, and our health. Imbalance in our system is reflected in the body. And through working with techniques of Hatha Yoga we can bring the system back into balance.
A good place to start is always the musculoskeletal system. The density of the bones and the memory capacity for the fascial tissue and muscles impacts the balance of the whole body mind spirit system. So how do we start?
All yoga starts with Tadasana – or Mountain -or Simple Standing Posture. It is so simple and straightforward that every tension is apparent. We just stand upright with the balance of the weight distributed evenly across the soles of the feet, arms alongside the body. Personally, I never try to force change in Tadasana. I use it as a measure. How is my Tadasana at the beginning of practice? What is it like at the end. Like the Om, it’s often very different, reflecting as greater state of balance and resonance. Sometimes I’ll just stand in it for a long time and feel the tension patterns surface.
Those tension patterns can tell us a lot about how we could create positive change in our lives. There is no formula. For me it’s always my hamstrings get short and tight and my head juts forward. Over the years – through spacious self-reflection and input from yoga colleagues – I’ve come to know that when that pattern emerges – some piece of me is not in the present moment. I’m hanging on to a belief, or perception or way of being that doesn’t serve me anymore. Often by the time my body communicates something – I’ve been ignoring it for a while. Sometimes insights about what needs to change will emerge during asana practice, sometimes meditation or the other forms of practice can help to illuminate the issues. The key is to seek to understand in a receptive way rather than just to fix or overcome and that understanding lays the groundwork for transformation of the body and everything else through my practice.
My newsletter lays a philosophical ground drawn from Patanjali Yoga Sutra 1.40 to work with in conjunction with this blog post. Take a look here: To Know – Results of the Experience of Yoga – https://mailchi.mp/4f8d72e44e70/to-know-yoga-and-the-experience-of-knowing
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