I grew up a very motivated, driven person; achieving work success relatively early from humble beginnings. But I felt empty. I was going so fast that I was never present in my interactions. My mind was always somewhere else. Does this sound familiar to you? Through yoga, I learned to slow down, reconnect with myself and find presence. Gradually, through a dedicated practice, I rediscovered joy. How do we deepen this joy?
Our bodies are designed to fit together. Ancient yogis knew this and recent studies in neuroscience confirm that how we breathe, how we sit, walk or stand influence how we feel. By altering our pose and our breath, we can deepen our relaxation and shift our moods, allowing us to self adjust and potentiate our health and well being. Our physiology is our neurology. We can read how another person feels by their body posture and how they do their asana. Through the Katonah Magic Square developed by my teacher, Nevine Michaan, we have a map to know how we can adjust ourselves to the archetype. We can become more stable, able and have a higher vision. For example, when we place our hands like mitts under our heels (balls) and fit our knees (balls) into our armpits (mitts), we get a very stable hang that make our stability support our ability. Not only do we technically integrate our body, we calm our mind and connect our body and mind through our breath.
Since our body is our abode, we have both yang space (our physical body) and yin space (the space for air in our lungs and the space for food in our digestive systems, etc.). Following this metaphor, in the environment I worked and grew up in, it was mainly effort (yang), like rowing. We want something, we plan, we have a to do list, we want it exactly the way we envision it and we want it fast. But then what? A pyrrhic victory. To deepen our joy in life, we have to learn to be open. We need to create the open yin space, like setting our sail to receive the wind, so we are able to receive grace. That we do not necessarily control all the outcomes; that we have to create an empty vessel by opening our bodies and our minds. Finding our true Divine Self through a practice that is playful, easeful and graceful. Less effort, more grace. For example in practicing Radiant Body Yoga, we can open ourselves to experience Kundalini Awakening.
Wu Wei, literally doing, not doing or practicing with effortless effort from mastery of our practice can be applied in our daily lives as skill in action and yet allowing grace to unfold; being a sailor skillfully navigating the winds and trusting in the innate intelligence of the Universe, relishing in the mystery and magic of our everyday moments, looking at the world with wonder and awe!
Photo Credit: Ari Mintz Photo