Searching through my books today came across this freeing perspective from Pema Chödrön:
“When we start to meditate…we often think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest….We recognize our capacity to relax with the clarity, the space, the open-ended awareness that already exists in our minds. We experience moments of being right here that feel simple, direct, and uncluttered.”
In conversation with Paul Harvey around a student looking for an ‘energetic’ practice.
“Rather than an ‘energetic’ practice consider the idea that
practicing consistently would be an energetic process”
The mind and the breath are fundamentally linked. In Yoga practice we work with each to influence the other.
When we are anxious, fearful or disturbed in some way, the breath can become shorter, faster and irregular. Likewise, when we feel content, the breath has qualities of being longer, slower and even. Prāṇāyāma is a practice that supports change in this respect.
“Yoga Practice is about a re-turning towards our inner life. However, even without outer obstacles, we can encounter inner feelings that arise and manifest as obstacles to that re-turning.
With the spirit of Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 33 in mind, the cultivation of the four pillars is a practice that can support a stepping, rather than stalling, onto our mat or seat through:
- Maitrī –
Cultivating a feeling of friendliness towards our own attempts,
let alone other’s demands, to distract ourselves.
- Karuṇā –
Cultivating a feeling of compassion towards our bodies and minds,
whatever state we find them in.
- Muditā –
Cultivating a feeling of looking for the positive spot in ourselves
and what we can do well and now, rather than what we can’t do well or now.
- Upekṣā –
Cultivating a feeling of keeping distance from the self-deprecation that can so often accompany our attempts to improve the quality of our inner life and old responses to inner tensions and memories.”
– Paul Harvey’s personal commentary on Yoga Sūtra Chapter One verse 33
“While it is theoretically possible for the body, the breath, and the mind to work independently, it is the purpose of Yoga to unify their movement. In our very first practice classes, we will experience this unification. What appears as Yoga to an outsider is mainly the physical aspects of our practice. They will not be aware of how we breathe, how we feel the breath, and how we coordinate breathing with physical movement.”
TKV Desikachar – Religiousness in Yoga, ch2, p13
“Begin your practice from where you are,
finish your practice where you are going.”
– TKV Desikachar 1978
Shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Journal
“Our practice needs to become a celebration of what we have.
Rather than what we have, becoming a reason not to practice.”
shared from Paul Harvey’s Yoga Journal
Q: Why have the breath envelop the movement?
A: “Mastery of the Āsana is about mastery of the breath in the form not just the form itself.
The best reference for observing that there is a quality of grace, as well as power within the achievement of the form, is a long smooth breath.
In terms of movement this notion means that you can be sure these qualities are embedded by keeping the breath longer than the movement.
This also offers an experience of stillness and an observation point for any stresses arising from the performance of the Āsana.
As mentioned in the original article around this topic there are also other levels beyond the four I discussed.”
The above is a question raised in response to the post ‘Keeping the Breath Longer than the Movement” together with Paul Harvey’s answer.
“Writing distills, crystallizes and clarifies thought”
-Dr. Stephen R Covey
“A man in Ireland broke his leg and spent 10 days in the hospital after injuring himself in a surprising way — while practicing yoga.
The 38-year-old yoga enthusiast fractured the thighbone on his right leg while doing a difficult seated yoga pose known as Marichyasana posture B in his morning yoga class, according to a new report of the man’s case, which was published online Oct. 9 in the journal BMJ Case Reports. The pose involves sitting down, with the knee bent and drawn up to the chest, and then bending the torso toward the floor. “
“At the time of his injury, the man was practicing Ashtanga yoga, a physically demanding style, for an hour every morning.Research suggests that injuries from this style of yoga are more common in the hamstrings, knees and lower back, according to the report.”
credit for image: © BMJ 2015
“In the emergency room, the man could not straighten out his right leg, and needed IV morphine to dull his pain. X-rays showed he had a “low-energy femoral shaft fracture.”he had a “low-energy femoral shaft fracture.”
The “low energy” term refers to the amount of force that causes the bone to break, said Dr. Andrew Moriarity, an orthopedic resident at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, who treated the man and co-authored the case report. Low-energy fractures are sometimes called “stress fractures.”
“Although yoga is considered a gentle mind-body practice, injuries can and do happen, especially as the activity’s popularity rises. Still, this type of fracture is extremely rare in a young, healthy person, and it’s even more unusual for it to occur due to yoga, the researchers wrote in their case report.”
Two weeks before the fracture occurred, the man felt a dull pain in his right thigh. He sought advice about the problem from a physical therapist, who diagnosed it as a muscle strain in the man’s quadriceps, telling him he could return to yoga.”
“But that probably wasn’t a good idea,” Moriarity said.
“The pain he felt in his thigh was likely a stress fracture, a warning of impending fracture if he continued to apply stress to this area,” Moriarity told Live Science.
“To treat his femoral shaft fracture, the man needed surgery to insert a titanium rod inside his thighbone, which would allow him to walk safely,” Moriarity said.
“The reason this man sustained such a rare injury from practicing yoga, Moriarity said, “was likely due to repetitive stress on the thighbone, combined with a weakened bone state, known as osteopenia“
“Indeed, a bone scan taken at the hospital revealed that he the man had did in fact have osteopenia, a condition in which his bone density is lower than normal, which could increase his risk for low-energy fractures, Moriarity explained.
“Five months after his release from the hospital, the man could walk almost pain free and had resumed practicing yoga, but was doing only less-demanding postures.”
“Over the last two years, Pieta House – the suicide and self-harm crisis centre – has witnessed a marked increase in the number of 13- to 17-year-old girls presenting with suicidal ideation.
The most consistent issue they are presenting with is their struggle to obtain “the perfect body”.
“…..young girls regularly name social media sites, reality TV and other popular television shows as the trigger of their weight obsession.
The problem also manifests due to pressure from peers, sexual identity issues, cyber-bullying, negative online comments and relationship troubles.”
“Last week, a new report from the Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA) revealed that Ireland had the highest rate of female youth suicides and the second-highest rate of male youth suicides in the EU between 2009 and 2011.”
“Over the past 12 months, the charity, which has supported more than 17,000 children, adolescents and adults since 2006, is seeing more teenage boys presenting with body image issues.”
“Boys are looking at six packs and think it’s the perfect body,” Ms Kiely said. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to be fit but if they are over-indulgent and are on steroids or taking protein supplements to build themselves and bulk up, that’s not healthy.”
“However, Pieta House believes this is also a good sign and that young people are reaching out.”
”Progress must be seen as the distance from the starting point,
rather than the more usual reference of the distance from the finishing point.”
– Notes from Paul Harvey’s first seminar with TKV Desikachar in Cambridge in 1976
Shared from Paul’s Yoga Studies Blog
“Duḥkha is a disturbance of the mind. While sometimes the words sorrow, misery, and disease are used to define duḥkha, it is best identified as a feeling of restriction.
Somehow something deeply disturbs us and we feel restricted.
This restriction is duḥkha…….
We all aim to remove duḥkha……..
That is what Yoga is trying to do.”
TKV Desikachar, Religiousness in Yoga
With plenty of focus on Mindfulness today,
Mindlessness is crucial to our mental health too.
Spacing out out from time to time is beneficial for our psychological health,
during these periods creative insights happen.