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Making the Most of Yoga, Mind the Gap

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Spring term and the Yoga classes are full - full of men and women who need to STOP. It sounds contradictory to come to a Yoga class exhausted, but we are, are we not, when the energy runs on, trying to fulfill the ever-flowing torrent of desires. No sooner is one task accomplished than another springs to mind. We are missing the point. There is, in fact, a natural stillness or gap. It can be quite small and, at first, not easily recognisable. It is the natural gap or pause between the cessation of one desire and before the beginning of the next.

We can all experience this quiet moment - it is there underneath it all. The problem is that it does appear to be covered over, almost completely obliterated at times, when the mind runs on in a flurry of activity. It is not just activity and agitation that hide and veil these precious resting moments; a soporific state can have the same effect.

With practice, we can become aware of these still moments. There is no set measure, it could be a split second or a few minutes. It is a still time when energy can be restored and we feel refreshed. It could be described as a feeling of 'being at home'.

Try introducing a 'gap' between actions. It may feel a little false at first, but as this still moment is a natural occurrence, we will, in a comparatively short space of time, begin to recognise and enjoy it. This happening can be seen in children. A moment when the body is quite still, the eyes and mind still. It is a precious moment. Compare this to the more common state- narrow eyes, hard face and body and mind out of sync., i.e., the mind on the next action and the body still in the last.

YOGA is a strong counter balance to this state. That is, the state of being in the past or the future, rather than in the present moment. Hatha means physical discipline. It is by working in a disciplined and precise way in Hatha Yoga that we can bring our bodies into the present. If we think of tensions in the muscles, this tension is brought about by holding on to the past; holding on to the last action rather than releasing it. Or it could be we tense up as the mind runs on ahead to imagined future events, which cause us to tense muscles in anticipation.

In either of these two states, we are not, in these moments, in the present. In the present moment, the body would be more economical - only using muscles necessary for the action in hand and releasing past or future. In Yoga, by giving attention precisely to the asana or position we are in, and nothing else, we can experience a release of energy, a relief from worries. It is when we come into a natural state (a childlike state) when nothing but the present exists. We have found that, when practicing Yoga, we feel full of energy and, at the same time, quite calm and strong. The 10 minutes or more of Savasana (corpse asana) at the end of a class or practice comes quite naturally and it is easy to let go completely.

We can all waste a tremendous amount of energy when the mind is flitting around from past to future. In this all too common state, we experience fatigue. This agitation in mind can create an inability to concentrate. When the mind is agitated (hopping about, not seeing what is in front of us) it can be difficult to rest. Even though there is a great need to stop, we are disinclined to do so. It is at these times we can feel the HEALING POWER OF YOGA. Exercise some willpower, get out your mat and stand on it. This first physical action will move the body out of the state of inertia.

Have you noticed how in times of stress and tension, the body can be rendered inactive dead ? If the resistance is high and the body not willing, then use a tape to practice to, just obeying a voice. At these times, this can be an easy way out. After only one or two asanas, the relaxation and joy of the present moment comes back. For me, this never fails, the magic is always there.

For 'Fossilised' or 'Stuck in a routine' folk and those who cannot get off the roundabout, but would like to, may I suggest that they come on a Yoga retreat. There is nothing wrong in sharing the energy of a group, and being free for a couple of days. It allows the light to come in and you will find many ideas or limitations you are holding about yourself can change or dissolve.

As you work in yoga, your body, energy levels and even your attitude will change, although at first this change may not be as obvious to you as it is to your family and friends.


By Ruth White
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Making the Most of Yoga, Mind the Gap


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