Vigyana Shakti`s yoga insights, part 3
There is actually a difference between having a flexible body and having a soft tension FREE body.
In the beginning I thought it is the same thing but then I realized it is not quite the same thing.
The pose on the photo is called Hanumanasana – the Monkey pose. I discovered that pose very spontaneously when I was 18 years old while I was stretching myself after a jogging round, I had no idea I was able to do that. That was 8 years before I started with yoga and it was not a pose to me then but just a split. It was first later on I learned that it is also a yoga position. So in my case I didn`t start with yoga to increase my physical flexibility (even though at that time I thought yoga must be my thing just because of that) but I was searching for some deeper insights.
It took me a few years to realize after I had started with yoga that of course physical flexibility is good to have but it does not have to be the main thing in yoga. So if you can`t do Hanumanasana like on the photo or put your fot behind the neck, don`t worry, there is still hope for you to become a thorough yoga practitioner.
You see flexible people in different poses (not only in yoga) and think wow, how is that possible? But what you don`t see and don`t know if these people have a TENSION FREE (or injury free) body.
Flexible people have a tendency to ”over do it”. They know that they are flexible and have no problem to do some quite advanced poses but they still want to push a bit more. But even though they look soft they still may have tensions or maybe even injuries in the body.
Tension free body does not feel any resistance while doing even quite advanced poses. By resistance I mean that you may feel the stretch but it does not hurt in any way. But it does`nt mean that you then must be able to make a knot out of yourself, no. You still feel the limit how much you can come into the pose but there is just no tensions. I personally do not always have a tension free body but as soon as I increase my yoga practise and do long programs regularly my tensions melts away. The feeling is fantastic, soft like a newborn baby and sometimes I wonder if I have skeleton at all…
Occasionally I hear my students say to me before the class ”just so you know I am hyper-flexible (in Swedish – överrörlig) so I have to be careful”. Well, one way it is true, you do have to be careful if you are the one who likes to push yourself into the poses BUT if you do it with AWERENESS and listen to your body, you can`t hurt yourself.
Why force yourself into the pose, to whom do you need to prove yourself?
As you can read I do not support forcing the body and do not get impressed by somebodys flexiblity, it can actually be the other way around. When I see this type of hyper-flexible bodys in the class (or personalities, because often it is a certain attitude, at least in the yoga class) and see and feel over eagerness within them I tell them to take it more easy.
These people do not always understand why I ask them to do so and they see me as a mean yoga teacher or think I am someone who likes too SOFT yoga… Well non of it is true. I just want them to discover that you can actually do yoga with a different attitude, without force and still get a lot out of it.
Don`t get lost in the physical body obsession, learn to communicate with your body instead. While doing yoga or sometimes in the breaks between the different poses, feel the life in you body, energy moving, blod flowing etc. Your body can be your best friend when you treat it right. You and your body need to cooperate with each other. Get the feeling if your mind and body is at the same level. Your eagerness may want to push you harder in yoga but if your body is not ready for it why use force and injure yourself?
I am 41 years old and I have never visited a chiropractor, physiotherapist or whatever they all are called who suppose to repare your body again. I have never hurt myself with yoga, never over stretched, never hurt my back etc. It is grazy for me to hear stories how people go to rehab to repare themselves after they have overdone some yoga pose. Hello!? It`s suppose to be the other way around.
Once you start to treat your body with awareness and you become soft and tension free it will also affect your mind. By releasing all these tensions from the body even your mind becomes ”felixible” and more open and intuitiv. Negativ thoughts can`t hold on to you anymore and you feel yourself innerly free. Thats why people look so happy after the yoga class! They don`t even realize themselves what has happend but they just feel so happy.
When physical tensions are released from the body with yoga, when the mind becomes clear after the breathing exercises, when you let go totally in the deep relaxation (like Yoga Nidra) and when you come to the point of experiencing inner stillness within you in the meditation… Then there is not many physical or mental tensions left in the body. Stress has left the building and happiness takes over.
This is something I am witnessing after each yoga class I am teaching. It is strongest when people come several days in a row to intensiv courses, like the one I just had after Christmas or the New Years course which I am teaching now.
Let`s increase the body awareness in the yoga classes and aim for the happy, soft and TENSION FREE body this year!
To be continued…