Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yoga and Empowerment

I took a really fun walk today after my first full day of the Vinyasa Flow Intensive that I am taking with Seane Corn at Kripalu. The intensive itself is good. I am definitely learning. I am trying to use this time to fill up the gas tank to take the journey towards big change. Today I had the realization that I have to go back to life in Chicago. I've been looking forward to going back on the mental level, but in another way I live as if the way I am living now is how I live normally. This is truely a vacation. And I realize for the first time what people mean when they say they are back to their "real life" versus being on vacation. Because there is a part of me that is ready to get back to my "real life" already. Kripalu is really a wonderful place. It is very easy. If you ever want to spend some time doing yoga, eating good food, and relaxing this is a great place. But I am actually starting to want to go back to my world where I can make a difference. I want to make my life even better. I want to take true responsibility for my actions.

Part of my restlessness this evening is probably related to a realization I had regarding an unconscious belief that I needed to be taken care of. I seeked out yoga that took care of me. Lately I have been tapping into an aspect of doing yoga that can be more empowering.

Being taken care of is an important aspect of healing. Many of us didn't get taken care of in just the way we needed to as children, so there can be some woundedness here that calls for healing through support.

There is also healing that is about empowerment. On Saturday afternoon during the 'Detox Flow' program we did a super-long hold in a lunge variation. People were moaning and dropping out of the pose. It was excruciating. I stayed in it the whole time. Then on Sunday morning we talked about it--over 70 of us and Seane Corn. When someone else was talking about their experience I had a realization about mine. Even though I had stayed in it he whole time I realized that I had done it by numbing myself to the experience, somehow I had chosen not to own it. So even though I had fulfilled the instructions I had done it with as little of myself as possible. I felt some pain, and then I left. My body was still doing the pose, but I wasn't. So I realized that I really had not done it. I was checked out. I also saw that this is how I have dealt with things I didn't want to do in my life outside of yoga: I have just gone through the motions with as little of myself as possible. So in the practice we did later when the same pose situation came up, I intentionally stayed with it. I really felt all the heat and fire and moving sensations in my thighs. It was so empowering! I did it, really his time. This way of being with the situation says that I choose to do this pose, and this is why it is empowering. When I'm not really doing it with myself and just merely present in class I am like a victim. I am being acted on. I haven't really chosen to fully participate and yet I am doing it anyway.

I do not want to go through my life feeling disengaged. I want to feel my life and my experiences fully. I don't want to go into that familliar numb place where I can't be affected. It really hurts me if I go through my life without feeling it.

It is empowering to feel. It means that I am saying "yes" to things I don't already know about my life. I am free to discover something new. And to feel I have to allow myself to go into vulnerability. When I protect myself through numbing out it is just like going into a protective shell, a cocoon that dulls my senses. When I allow myself to feel it might be awkward because I can't predict exactly how something will effect me. To feel means that I am taking a risk. I can't already know something I am feeling, because feeling is an inquirey, a form of inner listening that is hijacked by imposing what I think I already know onto a situation. I take responsibility for my situation when I choose to feel it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Linda-Sama said...

about holding the pose....that's why yin yoga with its 5-15 min. holds is so difficult for many people. my dedicated yin yogis think 5 min. is way too short -- they want to feel every juicy sensation.

Bob Weisenberg said...

This is very profound. Thanks for trusting us so much that you can share it with us.

Bob Weisenberg

Anonymous said...

I think there's a fine line, a not always detectable one, between numbing out and openness.

The distinction is really subtle but the way to check is to do what you did and try again.

When I was going to get tattooed in Bangkok with some of my fellow yogis, we'd been warned about such things by our teacher. There's a difference between something not hurting at all (numbing out) and feeling the sensations but perhaps not as intensely and not in a state of panic or distress (openness). And then there's the 'oh my god that hurts so much' school.

I think I've done all of those at different times. Certainly in a yoga class. Easily.

The thing I found so fascinating about my tattoo experience was this - thanks to four weeks of intensive retreat I was definitely in an open place, like never before.

So while I felt how sharp the needle was and at one point, thought "hey! that's a bit pointy!", I never found it excruciating.

Another thing my teacher is always emphasising is: "Check for sensation, check your sensations".

In other words feel it, understand where the feelings come from and let them be what they are.

Lovely words Brooks.

Eco Yogini said...

I loved this post- my favourite you have ever written.
It does speak of Yin Yoga as Linda-Sama has noted.
Someday I hope to experience a challenging pose as fully as you have.

YES to feeling and living life completely! :)

the word verification is 'colour'- perfect for an emotionally vibrant and open post.

Unknown said...

Is there a chance that you are being too hard on yourself? Holding a deep lunging posture for a long time can be excruciating and I would say congratulations for staying with it the whole time. It's great that you are able to examine your experience honestly though. I give you a "way to go" all around.

Catherine Derrow said...

Great post ... good for you for recognizing your "zoning out", and then using that awareness to zero in on your sensation the next go round. Your experience sounds amazing ... I just signed up for a weekend yoga retreat at Kripalu in the spring and I can't wait!