Through practicing and teaching YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, I have come to know that any form of movement that arises from wanting is one that perpetuates or creates karma. Whether we push into a pose and reach for some elusive sense of externalized perfection, or move out of a pose feeling uneasy or even repulsed by what we felt in it, we are acting from an unyogic, that is, non-unified, divisive, or ego-driven state of mind. This will only generate suffering for ourselves and others.
Yoga’s physical exercises are not an end in themselves. They offer instead a powerful alchemical crucible in which we can witness the transformation of our consciousness from wanting to presence, from brokenness to wholeness. They are a metaphoric training ground for the positions in which we find ourselves in life. When practiced with awareness and the willingness to release ego-driven wanting, these exercises will help manifest joy and fulfillment in our life.
No matter how skilled or precise we may be on our yoga mats, yogic exercises executed without awareness of the life-force that moves the body will not bring us the lasting happiness we seek through yoga. To truly begin to experience yoga, that is, the unshakable consciousness beyond the limited sense of “me” and “mine”, we must learn how to allow our body to be guided by the intelligence found within our unique breath rhythm.
The life-force that pulses through creation also flows through us all. But most of the time, we feel disconnected from it, because we are more interested in satisfying our wanting, to fulfill our perceived sense of lack. All the while, we are connected to, and lovingly held within, an extraordinarily powerful and fulfilling whole.
To try to experience yoga or oneness from a sense of separateness is like chasing a mirage forever out of reach. When we view life from disconnection, wholeness cannot take root and flower.
As we practice yoga, we must remember the force behind our impulse to move. When we are conscious that the force that lifts and releases our lungs when we breathe, or that moves our body along our mat, is far beyond our limited will, we begin to practice yoga: a return to the one undivided state.
In my YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine classes, I often guide practitioners into the Breathing Wave, as I described it in last month’s issue. Then they turn onto their side, and do the exact same exercise. This shift seems to make a huge difference in their ability to feel the power of the wave-like breath rhythm. So this month, I ask you to do just that. Here is how:
Start by doing the Breathing Wave in last month’s issue. Do this exercise until you feel the energy flow through your body.
Then raise your right arm. Roll onto your right side. Allow your head to comfortably rest on your upper arm. Keep your knees bent, so that you are in a fetal-like position.
Inhale, feel your belly rise. Allow your tailbone to tilt towards the back of your body, creating a slight arch in your lower back.
Exhale, allow your belly button to move towards your spine, as your tailbone tilts toward the front of your body.
As you did when you were on your back, inhale and draw in life force through the crown of your head (like a whale spout). Let the energy from the inhalation travel down your spine (like a tube of breath).
But now, as you exhale, rather than the energy traveling down your legs, let it travel back up your spine, towards the crown of your head.
Inhale, draw energy into your body, letting it travel down your spine. Then, exhale, let it travel up your spine. Let it feel effortless, as though a rippling wave were gently rolling through and purifying your spinal column. Inhale down. Exhale up. Repeat as much as you like.
Allow each vertebra to unwind as this wave travels through you. Allow any thoughts or emotions to arise and pass without attachment, should they come up.
When you have had enough, bring your breathing back to what feels normal. Take a few long breaths and press and roll yourself up gently into sitting.
Parvati is an award-winning musician (“I Am Light”, “Electro Yog”, “Yoga In The Nightclub”), yogini (YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine), author (“The Grace Mindset”, “Aonani of Avalon”, “The Three Supreme Secrets for Lasting Happiness”) and founder of the not-for-profit Parvati.org. All her work is dedicated to protecting all life on Earth by establishing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS). More info: parvati.tv; parvati.org.