Nothing But The Truth, So Help Me Yoga
A long term yoga practice cultivates amazing results. Muscles get stronger, more flexible. You feel physically and mentally relaxed and invigorated. You learn your body's anatomy first hand by actually listening to cues it gives. If you move and breathe with the same focus you give your cell phone, you find internal "apps" you didn't know you had. The physical exterior awareness mysteriously migrates mental awareness of what is happening beneath the surface. Once you get past acknowledging the muscles changing, you acknowledge the bones giving the foundation for everything to have a place to hold onto. Between the skeleton and skin is a unique recipe of elements being stirred...not shaken, in your yoga practice.
Experts in various fields advocate yoga for specific results. Practice with one intention and you are destined to experience the un-thought of revelations. It is expounded upon to have a personal practice. You know, get on the mat, alone, and do your moves/breathing/self-guided yoga practice. Been there, done that...a little. The truth is, a personal practice doesn't deliver to me the same juice from a shared practice. Maybe I'm not doing it right. Or, maybe I'm addicted to fusion of energies.
So, here's the unedited truth of my yoga in 5 words: Alive, Relaxed, Desire, Eagerness and Balance.
ALIVE: A shared practice, whether I am teaching or the student, delivers a charge of happiness...non-prescribed energy...a sense of connection to something beyond any wall I've been leaning on. I could tell you the shared energy is the body's pharmacy managed by Dr. Endrocrine dispensing hormones to support and maintain homeostasis. I love this Doctor!
The Chief of Staff, the pituitary gland, stays in close contact with the brain's hypothalamus messages, and tells his respective members what to do. Body temperature, emotions, sexual activity, production of calcium, serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, melatonin, and much more are constantly being managed. The teamwork of the endocrine glands assist the energy of feeling alive. And, feeling alive with others is much more fun.
RELAXED: Ah...move tightness out and softness finds its way in. Can't say the physical creates the mental or vice-versa. The two entities are merged. The brain's neuroplasticity keeps us on our toes. Change creates strength in whatever dimension of energy you are working. Rhythmic breathing, balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the body, is relaxing. Too much or too little oxygen is detrimental. The same for carbon dioxide. Overload of oxygen by hyperventilating transfers oxygen to the blood stream vs. the cells. Just like overdosing on a drug, it is toxic. Intense activities or emotions impact our unconscious breathing response. If you're stressed and catch yourself holding your breath, it is an innate instinct (fight or flight response) to amplify the ability to hear the "predator" approaching you...giving you more time to either fight or flee.
So, is breathing the answer to being relaxed? Yes and no. Your body's meat is tenderized; but, it is only part of the recipe.
DESIRE: This word alone opens Pandora's Box in most minds. So, let's address the elephant in the room. Sex. Again, those hormones, memories stored somewhere in the gray matter, feeling completely alive physically and beyond, have a way of keeping that 2nd chakra awake. It's a good thing besides the obvious. It is what gets me writing...studying...inspired to explore and take risks. Without desire, I don't think anything of magnitude would be born. I'm not talking babies...I'm talking inspirational purpose. Yoga can expose desires impossible to ignore. Keep practicing and the fear of failing is replaced with a stronger desire to not regret trying. As a teacher, I keep adding to my "toolbox" of skills. And, I feel the desire to take another step in figuring out how to share them. Its a mental storm of comparisons, assumptions, and "a-ha" thoughts. But, with each shared practice, I am starting to notice the ego's overcast thinning out. Desire brightens the mind's eye and I keep cooking.
EAGERNESS is pushed by desire. Once the flame of desire is lit, the eagerness to manifest adds more flavor. With the Law of Attraction in play, the merged energies have a way of sending the perfect messages or people your way. And, you know when it happens. It's like you've been playing a poker game for what seems like forever. You decide to let go of a couple of cards you thought would work on a hunch...gut instinct...and the dealer flips two cards your way making you now hold a full house. Yoga, the energy of it and the people you connect to as a result, helps you know what to hold and risk letting go. Your "hunches" get better. Anatomically, your gut literally has a mind of its own. We've heard the inquiry, "do you follow your heart or your head?". But, beneath those two physical and metaphorical parts resides perhaps a perfect blend of both.
Your digestive system, aka, your gut, is your enteric system. It doesn't spell out feelings verbally; but, it does communicate in a way the brain can interpret without words. Feeling alive, relaxed, desire and eagerness greatly depends on the compacted, 20 foot long, villi-laced tubing we try to romanticize with a muscular engraved six-pack. The muscles are great; but, the meat beneath makes them possible.
BALANCE: I'm not talking yoga pose balance. What we all ultimately need to feel the four components listed above is a balance of everything. The body's systems work to keep the sum of all the elements that make you balanced. Extremes in either a negative or positive direction activates the endocrine system to release the applicable hormones to the organs, muscles, and cells to get the scales level. Mental, emotional, psychological balance are all part of this recipe. Know when you're cooking a meal and sprinkling spices in and tasting for the perfect blend? That is what your body/mind/spirit are doing all. the. time. Yoga makes me love cooking in a whole new way. And, the pots and pans used end up cleaner than when I started. Magic.
Oh yeah...the menu is unlimited. Love variety. Bon appetit!