Thursday, September 11, 2008

My philosophy and teaching style (part 4)

I take my students to a level where I encourage them to melt into their posture, and forget that their body exists, to go beyond, a mind-body connection, to immerse themselves in their own pool of energy where their breath is suspended within, where there is no past, no future, only a deep, safe silence of the present. As Osho simply puts it, "Patanjali's asanas(postures) are concerned not really with any kind of physiological training but an inner training of being,and if you can remain in one posture, the "remaining" will help centering".

An advanced yogi may opt for a simpler asana, or may not physically look like the student who is holding a complicated posture, but one is simply honouring his breath, forgoing a seemingly difficult posture to lead with the breath, rather than a beginner yogi who is trying way too hard to hold a difficult posture, compromising the breath and straining himself, does not make him an advanced yogi.

If you ever watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", there are a few moments in the movie where you can apply the zen principle of effortless effort. Zen is a path of paradox. Let's examine it in the movie. The lead actor, Pete, heads out to the beach to find his surfing instructor, Kunu, and Kunu starts giving him lessons on land first. Kunu says, now stand up, Pete takes a clumsy stand on his surf board. Kunu then says, no no, you're doing too much, do less. This goes back and forth till it frustrates the already heartbroken Pete. Eventually Kunu just tells him, don't do anything, which leave Pete really puzzled at his mad surf instructor. Here, Kunu is actually emphasising effortless effort. So there is such a poignant lesson to be learned. Same thing applies, the more you "do" in yoga, the further you are falling away from your practice. As Kunu says, do less, or don't do anything, priceless words. Your only intention in yoga is to just be, this in turn gives rise to a feeling of lightness and clarity.

Society has a shitty way of often separating the mind and body as two different things. In actuality, mind and body is really mind-body. They are of two poles of the same one phenomenon. You are not body and mind, you are mind-body. Your personality is psychosomatic - both mind-body. The mind is the subtlest part of the body; or you can see it the other way, the body is the grossest part of the mind. So what happens to the body, happens to the mind, they are connected as one. The scriptures say, when breath moves, prana moves. You can notice this, if you are still moving in your posture, you mind is also moving with it. But in a non-moving body, the mind cannot move, it needs a moving body.

So what I'm saying is, if the body is nonmoving, and the mind is nonmoving, you are centered, you are still, you are completely at ease with your inner being. When you have become centered, when you know what it means to be, then you can learn. Because then you will be humble, then you can surrender with ease. Yoga, I like to put it, is a surrender of breath to yourself, revealing the true self through complete acceptance. Something new will be born. And for the first time, you will know the real you. For transformation to happen, it starts with the breath, a major leap of something lower energies to transcendental. It takes only your breath. Ever noticed a fetus, while inside the womb, it breathes, but through the mother, through the umbelical cord, but the moment it comes out, the baby has to start breathing on it's own. The first breath of earthly air taken, is what is called a transcendental leap. Do you see my point?

Which is why we bring awareness and consciousness to our breathing, otherwise our breath fleets us, and we wonder where the time went. As we bring our purusha(pure consciousness) to merge with our breath(prana), we join our inner beings with the Isvara-pranidath. Your yoga practice should eventually "dwindle" down to pranayama and seated meditation, as my teacher Adrian Cox put it. You go beyond the postures. You transcend them, but first you have to understand them, go through them.

That's all for now, stay safe, lots of light and love.

Namaste,

Michelle Q