In the Katonah Yoga practice, we are asked to use structure rather than muscle.
“Form informs flow, and flow deepens form. So what is naturally deformed in nature can be reformed and eventually transformed.”
This seemingly simple concept has allowed me to open in poses instead of muscling to hold them. Yoga becomes about how efficiently I can get into the pose, by applying techniques that set up the archetype – then I measure up to that.
On all fours, Nevine places a block behind my forearms to check for a 90 degree angle. This is how we begin informing our practice. Great measure means good flow. With the right form, breathing and circulation can flow and flush through the body.
As the current is enhanced with correct measure, form deepens.. In time, chronic pain due to malformations in limbs are re-formed – and eventually transformed. Along with our architecture and physiology, how we see ourselves, how we see the world and how we relate to others also shifts. Our physiology eventually affects our neurology. Because our body feels better being in the “right” form, we feel better.
We relate to others more positively, and become more proficient at what we do. By repetition through our daily practice, we learn mastery. As there is a pattern to how we progress, through the seasons, through the rhythms of our body, we have a path to follow.
These are Nevine’s three principles of all esoteric dialogue: Polarity, Repetition and Pattern. By allowing grace to open us in the pose and receive the benefits from the universe, we are mediating the polarity between grace and effort. It cannot be all effort.
This approach can be applied in practically all that we do. Applying them in our subtle body practices, we learn to lengthen inhale, prolong breath holds and lengthen exhale. Archetypal forms bear transcendental fruits.
In my experience, sometimes pushing through projects by sheer will and effort only result in partial or pyrrhic victories because I didn’t set up the conditions to receive grace from the people and events around me – much like muscling through poses.
Setting up the conditions to receive grace is like practicing the correct form in a yoga pose. And that flow is grace, raining upon us when we have set up the right conditions. Yoga becomes easeful and fun when we practice with effortless effort. If we’re gentle with ourselves in our daily lives, balancing grace and effort, may we also live life like that.