Those of us who practice yoga regularly are increasingly aware of our bodies, the areas that open easily and those nooks that are knotted tight. Body awareness is wonderful, but do we honour these nuggets of knowledge, and respond with respect? Could we, perhaps, take a deeper look at the messages our yoga body is trying to share?
Aha, caught you scowling! Is that how you approach your day, with a critical, pessimistic eye?
What we wear on our face can reflect both our attitude to yoga, as well as our bigger approach to life. Perhaps there’s always something wrong, a never ending piece of our personal jigsaw that we labour to improve. If this sounds like you, it’s possible you struggle to find stillness in the here and now, and aren’t as present as you’d like to be in your practice.
When we grimace from Surya Namaskara to Savasanah, tell me, are we really benefitting from yoga? It’s unlikely we’re going to finish our physical practice in a more peaceful state of mind when we’re outwardly pursing our lips and wrinkling our brow.
One way we can consider improving our expression is to think of a blissful moments we’ve enjoyed where we felt no desire to be anywhere else. We all have those memories, a moment of contentment, elation. And I guarantee during that moment your face was soft, you lips slightly upturned in a smile, and you had an attitude of loving kindness to yourself and those around you.
First stop – Samistitihi. Do you stand strong and steady, your weight equally distributed across the arches of your feet, a balanced pelvis, lengthen spine and relaxed limbs? Does a natural, vibrant energy channel up through the crown of your head, down through your feet and hands, and do you shine out through your heart centre? Let’s be honest, it’s unlikely.
Ask a friend to take a picture. This, the most fundamental of poses, can speak volumes. Perhaps your spine is curving forward a little, if so, what’s your body telling you? Are you jumping ahead to the future, eager to reach the next part? Or perhaps you’re hunching your shoulders and drooping into your lumbar, caught in the past and struggling to move on.
Locking our limbs
Do you naturally lock the knees and jaw in downward dog, or hold the neck tight in Parsvokanasana? Could this reflect a rigid day-to-day existence? Perhaps you lock yourself into the choices you make, and can be a little stubborn from time to time.
By focusing on reversing this behaviour in our physical practice, we can move mountains in our ‘off the mat’ behaviour. And it all begins with becoming increasingly aware.
Left and right
Most of us have one side which is more susceptible to niggles and injury, but not all of know that the left represents the moon (our female aspect), and the right reflects the sun (our male aspect).
It could be that these manifestations of emotions are directly related to our own yin and yang, or they might be reflecting a male or female influence that’s present for us at that time. How far you consider which parts of the body might reflect particular emotions is, of course, your choice. For me, it’s very useful, especially in working on reversing a negative thought pattern.
Louise Hay’s book Heal the Body details the body and what illnesses and injuries might be showing up, in wonderful detail. A couple of examples of what she writes about include injured knees reflecting a challenging ego and problems with hands and wrists suggesting that we’re grasping on to things that no longer serve us. Mmm, that’s got you thinking, eh?
These are just a few things that we can be aware of as we make shapes on our mat. I’d love to hear a few more insights from anyone who takes the time to read this.
Published on Yogamoo, June 2014.