All life is energy and we are an energetic system. When our energy is interrupted and not flowing optimally, we don’t feel so well. But when it flows in the right way, we’re more likely to feel good, to be more loving and to wish others well, and the less likely we are to experience suffering.
When our energies are flowing, fluids flow. Within these fluids is the neuro-chemical information that communicates to us what we’re paying attention to, what we’re feeling and perceiving. The information can be very complex or very simple, such as too fast, not fast enough or just right.
What holds us up
Fluids give the body its stability, resilience and an easy uprightness. It’s the fluids that hold us up – the skeleton provides a framework and the muscles provide softness and movement. Look at a baby when they get to the sitting stage. They have a beautiful uprightness and ease. It’s the fluids that are holding them up, like turning the pressure up on a hose.
Alignment is our natural state
It is natural for our bodies to be in alignment, we actually have to work hard to stay out of alignment. If given a choice the body would always want to be in this place, it has just been persuaded otherwise. When you remove the tensions and contractions and engage the floppiness, the fluids will hold you up. The fluids also carry information from different parts of the body to consciousness. A simple example of this is when the body is working well, good stuff stays and is absorbed, while the negative and useless stuff is removed.
In practice, we’re always looking at what part/s of the body lack appropriate tone and need to restore pulsation, and what practice does the job best. There is always an optimal rhythm of pulsation that supports wellbeing. If the pulsation is too fast, we feel agitated. If it’s too slow, we don’t feel quite so well. Wellbeing is a rhythm that’s somewhere in the middle. In yoga, we use the body and energy to regulate that flow.
The optimal rhythm that mirrors wellbeing is different in different parts of the body, so different practices are needed to regulate, for example, the digestive system, the muscles or the respiratory system.
Our systems are always trying to self-regulate and move back into alignment, and mostly the body finds these rhythms. Sustaining proper energy flow is done mainly by preconscious parts of the body, and it’s only when it goes off centre that consciousness is asked to intervene. In our yoga practice, we try to stabilise these rhythms until wellbeing becomes ordinary.
This process takes time.
Resistance to feeling good
If a change in rhythm is new or temporary, then it doesn’t take long for the body and energy to respond to our invitation to correct itself.
If it’s a long-time habit (Samskara), we have to invite the body to move from what it’s used to, such as not feeling so well, back towards feeling really good.
This takes time because:
1. We get used to not feeling so well
2. Feeling good gets associated with something bad happening
If someone has learned the habitual belief that ”If I feel good, someone will be mean to me”, they will be cautious about feeling good. As they feel more energised, the body will resist the energy by contracting. A common theme is “I will be too big if I let this happen.”
When we are moving to a ‘state of yoga’, expanding our consciousness from an individual sense of self to Universal Self and trying to stabilize the rhythms that mirror this, we need to do a little practice and rest. Let the body get used to what’s being suggested, so that when you do it again, you can do a little bit more or for a little bit longer.
Build slowly to a strong, stable practice
By doing this process, we get used to “resting in being” and many people are scared of this. So often in practice, people focus on doing difficult things and work really hard, but when we flog ourselves in Yoga, I think we’re doing harm.
Strong practice in itself is not a problem, although it should be allowed to build gradually so that the body has all the resilience, flexibility, skill and strength to expand without hurting itself. Your body will love the practice and be more responsive to it if you don’t force yourself in the beginning.
Ultimately Yoga is a methodology of receding our awareness inwards. Patanjali states that to do this you need a body that is steady and comfortable, that has a balance between strength and surrender. This is a gradual process and it cannot be forced. When we achieve this, the body is balanced – almost like a zero point. Here it ceases to be an obstacle and our awareness will go beyond the body, move inwards and expand.
Reference: How to Feel as Good as You Can in Spite of Everything, Julie Henderson (1995).