The definition of yoga is yoke or union- Union of breath to body to mind. Simple. So why isn’t it? Why is it that we get so wrapped up in our busy lives, the stress, the tension and feeling overwhelmed to forget to breathe, forget to let go and relax.
For me that’s where practising yoga comes in. Not only do you get the bonus of stretching and strengthening your muscles but the connection of the breath to the movement. The focus on what’s really happening in your body is what yoga is about for me. The million dollar yoga question, “How is it right now?” “How do I feel right now?”
I most often start my classes with students lying on their backs. I ask them to notice how their breath feels first, shallow, deep, wide -there’s no right or wrong, just observations. Then I might ask them to direct their breath, to make it wide so it presses against the sides of the rib cage noticing the shape of the breath in the body. Play around with it, make the breath press upwards under the front of the chest. One breath up, feel yourself press the breath out while exhaling, next breath wide. A few repetitions and then ask them “How is it now”?
It can be physical sensation of releasing tension, for example, if you are in a supine twist (Supta matsyendrasana), notice the tension you are perhaps holding in the legs, pelvis and lower back, middle back, shoulder blades, neck, face and eyes. It’s sneaky the tension, so once you’ve scanned the body and let go, scan again and see if any has crept back. Maybe slowly turning the face from side to side will release the neck as you notice the shape of the breath in the body. Notice it coming from a point in your belly all the way up to your collar bones. Feel the breath press against the rib cage, press against the skin. Doing it with your eyes closed allows for the conversation… “How does it feel right now?”
Bhava means attitude. Postures can definitely bring up certain attitudes and emotions. Matsyendrasana for me is always quiet. There’s a humbleness and humility a lovely sense of dignity that I experience when I’m in that posture especially if I bow my head. How do you feel now? Can you feel the attitude or an emotion bubbling up?
Observing the conversation, stopping the chatter in your head and getting back into your body is what it’s all about. The past has happened, the future is unsure, all that is certain is now.
So how is it right now?