Asana practice and energy- how ideas take time to make sense.

I love it when I learn about something that is difficult to grasp so store it in a ‘drawer’ inside my mind. Then, once in a while, I go back to it, explore it, apply it to my own experiences, and evaluate if I have a better understanding. Oftentimes, I have to put it back in the ‘drawer’, until one day, just like magic, a little spark of understanding ignites and I feel I understand a little bit better. To then realize that my understanding is most probably just the tip of the iceberg… Does it happen to you?

Ever since I took my YTT, I have been very sceptical to talk about flow of energy and chakras in my classes simply because they are concepts that are very difficult to grasp for me, and I don’t want to teach something that 1) I don’t understand 2) I haven’t experienced. Some years ago, I bought a book about chakras and tried to ‘work on my chakras’ as described in the book for some months, without noticing any change. Most probably because of lack of understanding, perseverance and proper guidance.

After studying a bit more about the Tantra and Hatha traditions this year, I have come to understand that in order to work with the chakras, one needs to be initiated into one of these traditions. This said, the practice of yoga asana does have an impact in the flow of energy inside our body. This is not ‘mystical’ energy as we have a tendency to believe, it is oxygen, blood circulation, flow of nutrients, stimulation of the nervous system, etc.

If you think about it, our lifestyles allow us to move in very limited ways. Even if we are conscious about getting enough exercise, most of the time, the range of movement is limited. The big advantage of yoga asana is that the different movements and poses allow us to mobilise joints, and strengthen and stretch muscles that we probably otherwise don’t give much attention to on an everyday basis.

I have experienced to feel heaviness, discomfort or even pain in certain body parts and then focus my asana practice towards these and other body parts directly connected to them feeling much better afterwards. The key, I think is to have a regular practice that allows us to get to know our body well, and to start creating a mental list of movements and poses that we know have a good effect in our body. In order for our asana practice to be of benefit for our body and mind, we need to be curious both about the practice and about our body and mind.

So in this sense, yes, the yoga asana allows the energy in our body to flow better by strengthening, releasing tension and keeping our joints healthy. That is maybe ‘level 1’ of my understanding of energy. ‘Level 2’ would then be the flow of prana. Which I do understand but I don’t fully grasp. So, I continue practicing, I continue observing and learning. This is such a fun journey! 🙂

What’s up with Fridays? or Friday, My New Teacher

I am trying to live my life following a simple yet sometimes difficult to follow principle: put my energy and creativity to do my part in everything I undertake and let go of the expectation of the result being as I wish it to be. This is a very nice way to focus my mind and energy in doing as good as I can and not wasting it in worrying about the outcome or getting all worked up by perceived failure.

This said, when things do go well or even better than I could imagine them to go, it kind of becomes addictive so when something doesn’t go as smoothly and well as the rest, the fall feels harder. This is quite funny when I think about it, but not that funny when I’m in the middle of it .

The last couple of weeks have been what I would call ‘good weeks’. I feel motivated, inspired and creative at work. My colleagues and I had been working on a couple of projects for our students, and they seem to have worked well. Students had fun, and we believe they also learned something.

I have been offered to teach two groups of ‘corporate yoga’ at a company where I have worked before and people seem to enjoy the classes. I have many ideas for these groups and I am so happy and grateful to get this opportunity.

I will start teaching two other evening yoga classes at a new place where I have been given the freedom to decide what to teach and how to teach it. I also have many ideas for these two classes, and I am super happy that the owners of this place asked me to join their team.

My kids and husband are doing well, everything is running more or less smoothly at home with daily routines, kids’ after school activities, and so on.

Happy days but busy days. So the past two weeks, when Friday comes, I kind of expect it to go as smoothly as the rest of the week only even better because IT IS FRIDAY. Finally the day to ‘relax’ has come.

To my big surprise and frustration, both Fridays have been the most challenging days in both weeks. Just when I am starting to let down my guard, one by one small challenges, like obstacles in a race, start appearing and I notice how little patience I have to deal with them. I experience a combination of frustration and amusement watching myself become more and more angry because the day of the week that should be the ‘best day’, turns out to be the least relaxing.

What happened? Nothing big actually, but combined with my expectations on how things should be, it can feel quite big.

Last week, I struggled to keep my cool when the lady at the drugstore behaved in a way that I perceived as condescending. The frustration was not just because of how I felt I was being treated, it was combined with frustration against the health system because I have been trying to get in contact with one of the specialists that see our daughter to renew a prescription and it felt like Mission Impossible. Then the pharmacist, who of course doesn’t know this, wasn’t being helpful. I was tired after a ‘good’ but busy week, and I noticed myself getting angrier and angrier. My dad has a say ‘el que se enoja pierde‘ , ‘the one who gets angry looses’ (I’m very bad at translating these proverbs, I hope you get the point). So, I lost it, and I just had to get out of the drugstore to not get even more angry and say something that I would regret afterwards. Did the problem get fixed? Nope. So I kind of lost.

This week, the same story repeated itself but instead of a tired pharmacist, I met my tired ten year old Kitchen Aid. I had the ambition of making bread buns for the yearly voluntary work to get the neighbourhood ready for winter tomorrow morning. I wanted to make two batches. It was going to be a ‘cozy moment’ between my oldest daughter and I. Half way through the process of kneading the first dough, the Kitchen Aid said ‘bye bye’ and stopped working, and not only that, I couldn’t get the bowl out of its base to take the dough out. After five minutes of ‘patiently’ wrestling with the machine, my daughter standing by my side looking more and more worried, I just had to stop and observe myself for a minute. The thing is that I wasn’t only frustrated because the machine stopped working, I had already started making many connections in my brain. First, ‘what am I going to do without my Kitchen Aid?’ Followed by, ‘some weeks ago the electric whisk died, then the blender, and now the Kitchen Aid? What is wrong with our house? What am I going to do? I don’t want to knead two doughs tonight. It is going to get late and we won’t have time to watch that series we like to watch all together?, Our youngest daughter is going to be so disappointed?’ , and so on.

I took a deep breath, and went to get a rubber hammer from the basement to ‘gently’ encourage the bowl to let go of the base. My daughter’s eyes were as big as plates but I managed. And we continued our ‘cozy’ evening with me getting some extra arm strength as a bonus.

To be honest, now that I think about it. I am happy these kitchen appliances have been one by one saying goodbye. My kitchen counter has more space, and I can still cook a decent meal without them. I believe in trying to repair things when possible, but these three were old and cranky, so we can say goodbye with good conscience. Plus, my husband had a good time dismantling the whole thing.

I take with me some reflections for next week, and hopefully when Friday comes, I will be ready for its challenges. One: keep my expectations in check to avoid unnecessary waste of energy in frustrations. Two: make sure I take time to rest and do nothing from time to time from Monday through Thursday so when Friday comes, I still have energy to deal with whatever is. Three: keep practicing detachment, especially when it comes to material things. I have so much more than I really need, it is maybe only a gift to be encouraged to live in a simpler way.

Luckily, the buns turned out quite good. My kitchen looks tidier, and I can now go to bed with a smile in my face.