The last two days with Abhijata were chock full of goodness, with the running theme of the relationship of the body and the mind and building our holistic intelligence of action, reflection, and sensitivity through asana.
For many of us, we see the mind as one thing and the body as another. But, through yoga we come to understand that the mind permeates every cell and space of the body and the body is necessary to know the mind. Movement is necessary to engage the mind, but always moving does not allow the mind to sink deep into the holistic intelligence needed to know our Self completely.
Abhi has been taking some more “complex” or “perceived advanced” poses, but approaching them through touch and go attempts and numerous repetitions can build the intelligence of both the beginning student and advanced practitioner. She has continued to delineate the attempts and approaches that can be taken from all levels.
Friday brought some great hip mobility along with twisting and abdominal movement, today she sent us into some back bending. As always, she has taken time to acknowledge and give variations for menstruation, however today she spent time also giving variations for menopause – a stage of a woman’s life we don’t always shed light on in class, but does have its needs for adjustment in practice as well. The reminder is that the body is not just what we can “see”, but all that is going on within as well. It is amazing to me the amount of knowledge and adjustment that Iyengar Yoga brings to a person for their whole life of practice. Through age, injury, hormonal changes, and emotional upheavals, there is always something to practice.
Yesterday she mentioned that tapas (disciplined action) must be applied to everything we do. We WILL face pain (in life and practice), but pain can be a teacher and pain should not stop you in your tracks with fear. “Tapas is not torture” and we should find ways to move with and move through our fears and pains to come out stronger in the end.
Today she mentioned many of the antarayas (obstacles) that may come in life and practice – disease, mental sluggishness, doubt, heedlessness, idleness, carelessness, delusion, lack of perseverance, and backsliding. It is our tapas and our long and uninterrupted practice that helps to overcome these obstacles, otherwise the obstacles themselves bring future pains.
A balance of “courage and caution” must go together. Be courageous in trying new things and take caution when it is needed. Only YOU know those edges and you must become alert and aware at every moment to strike this balance well. And, Abhi gave us a great experience of balance today – a strong and energizing back bend practice to gain courage ending with equally sensitive and releasing postures to avoid future pain.
The body energized brings full engagement of the mind. Full engagement of the mind allows for absorption, the true nectar of yoga.