"Before yoga, I worked out a lot. I was a workout maniac, the harder the better. Then one day I woke up with sciatica pain down my leg. I thought it would go away, but it got worse and worse for the next two years. I couldn't work, sit down, or stand up. I went to all the doctors and tried everything from deep massage to chiropractors. Finally I quite the gym and went to yoga. I lost weight, and after three months 75 percent of the pain was gone. Then came other painful lessons in my life. I kept practicing, and I started reevaluating everything. All my angers and resentments came up. I think it was all stuck in my body. I buried all my emotions and I didn't know that I was doing it. I started seeing things clearly. I remembered being seven and that my leg hurt back then. I realized that that's where I started holding everything. With the opening of my body, all this stuff started flowing out. I faced things head-on, felt them, and let go. It changed me completely."
by Jene R., yoga teacher
in Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates
How many of you can relate to this story or are at least curious about it? There is good reason yoga and also meditation is getting more credit, research done by Ivy League institutions, and attention by respected media. I myself was a gym person till an older mentor coworker of mine recommended I try a hatha yoga class in 1995. I had been "working out" for years but seemed to never get or feel very strong. I had always been somewhat flexible, but strength was illusive. My self esteem was very externally focused and conditional. I had a habit of being ignorant to my anxious, shallow breath. Over time, with a lot of persistence and discipline to my hatha yoga practice, my body was transformed. I stopped going to the gym. I began to feel patient, accepting, stronger, more confident from the inside and less obsessive, neurotic, dependent on what strength looked like on the outside. Today I can BREATHE deeper. Something shifts over time when we quiet the mind and practice being present with the breath and the body. We begin to undo layers of protection that may no longer be serving us. My graduate school thesis presentation explored my transformation going from years of an armored, tense, protected, stiff upper back to an increased ability to backbend and open my heart to emotion, empathy, and vulnerability thanks to daily ashtanga vinyasa yoga. It's a process that might not make sense till you try it. Sadly, in today's society of short lived fads and FOMA, many people may only dabble in yoga and not make it to the goodness, the transformative meat of the practice. So, are you ready to shift your mindset to "slow and steady wins the race"? I challenge you to take a breath and consider it.
One of my favorite entries about how yoga and psychology come together in the eloquent collection by Rolf Gates titled Meditations from the Mat.
"The Samskaras are built up by continued action of the thought waves, and they, in their turn, create new thought-waves, the process works both ways. Expose the mind to constant thoughts of anger and resentment, and you will find that these anger-waves build-up anger-samskaras, which will predispose you to find occasions for anger throughout your daily life. A man with will developed anger-samskaras is said to have "a bad temper." The sum total of our samskaras is, in fact, our character at any given moment." from the Yoga Sutras
In yogic psychology, our predispositions, the contents of our character, are in a state of perpetual cocreation with our thoughts. Our thoughts create impressions on our souls, samskaras, and these impressions, in turn, predispose us to similar thoughts. Over time, these impressions can become quite pronounced, as in the case of addiction. But like impressions made on the surface of a candle, our samskaras can be melted away by heat. The heat we apply is yoga. Dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation), whether experienced in asana, pranayama, meditation, or some other activity, are so powerful because they bring us to a place beyond thought and the impressions of thought, and into vidya, direct knowledge of the soul. Our thought can refashion our samskaras; dharana and dhyana eliminate our preconceived notions altogether. We can move beyond our self-created personalities, let go of our self-limiting definitions and realize our true nature. (Adapted from Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates)
This is where I share MY TRUTH.... authentically, some of my thoughts, inspirations and insights that might be of service for whomever has interest and need.