Angela’s Yoga Lab: Exploration on the Mat.
We can understand Yoga as a translation for ‘relationship’– with ourselves, with others, with how we respond to stimuli and our external relationship, with Spirit. Yet something I am constantly exploring is how the actual practice can translate off the mat into our lives in a tangible way that is connected, palpable and meaningful. Essentially – how can we use ‘Yoga’ in daily living after the class ends?
The answer to that, is actually a myriad of ways, forms, interpretations- but this post explores one:
The Power in Naming.
A recent Forrest Yoga workshop I attended ( led by Forrest Yoga Guardian Sandra Heider) explored this very theme – i.e. Once we identify and ‘give a Name to something’ we determine power over what we have named and step into a place where we provide ourselves with choice/s.
During this workshop, I was called upon to demonstrate a difficult advanced arm balance pose, with Sandra there to assist. Even though I can normally do this pose, this was the second day of the workshop and my wrists were feeling tweaky and sore. So while I attempted, I was unable to demonstrate the Asana in the way that I viewed as ‘correctly’.
Immediately after exiting the posture the class moved on but I was flooded with emotions – Embarrassment that my fellow peers had seen me ‘fail’, feelings of shame, self-hatred of my ‘weak’ body at not being able to deliver, fear that I would be exposed as a fraud and not a real Yoga teacher for being unable to demonstrate advanced Asana.
I wanted to pack up my mat and leave the workshop, run away from the emotions. However, as the workshop continued I committed to name each sensation as it was happening. As each emotion bubbled up I stayed with the feelings. I was in tears by the time Savasana came.
Post workshop I explored my observations.
Regardless of how strong I become physically I have a hard time accepting myself.
During my perceived ‘fail moment’ at the workshop my inner dialogue revealed so much about how I relate to myself. My perfectionist, inner critic screamed “You should be better, stronger”, “What is wrong with you?”, “Who will want you if you are failure”. All because my wrists were tired.
Ana Forrest ( Creatrix of Forrest Yoga) calls on her students to ‘track their fear’, sit with it- snuggle up close to it, in order to reveal the root cause, remove its power over our choices, our lives.
Forrest Yoga explores how past traumas that have not been processed stay dormant in the body, in the muscle tissue. When we name what is happening internally, during Asana through sensation, we get direct feedback and we can learn to interpret that feedback.
Sadly, Kinesthetic embodied intelligence is something not prioritized a lot in westernized culture and we are taught to view the physical body as separate from the mind.
I disagree with this view. I love being a tracker of my internal process. Yoga is key in allowing this, and I encourage my students to do the same.
If we are not afraid to actually feel in these moments during Yoga practice when emotions arise, we can Name what is happening, identify it, and then we then can observe why it is happening.
Once we Name our process we can choose how to move forward, and even if we discover numbness, or an inability to feel sensation, then we still have Named that discovery and can evolve out of that.
We learn that emotions are fleeting.
We can observe and ‘catch’ behavioral patterns. We can choose to view sensation and thoughts with non permanence and with the next breath a new opportunity will arise. In that new breath is a new choice with how to view ourselves and so we get stronger, in mind and body.
We do not become attached to our grief, pain or numbness. It does not own us. We can become more balanced, equanimous and to take a step closer to our authentic self.
Often I tell my students “You are not there to serve the Asana/s- the Asanas are there to serve you”, and this is one way the Yoga practice can serve you.
Come take a class with me on Muuyu and discover more.
Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin. RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga, Angela is committed to nourishing mind and body both off and on the mat. She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs. Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga. Connect with her here on Muuyu.com or on her own website www.endorphinyoga.eu as well as on twitter.com/Yogawithangela
Angela would like to give a special mention to Forrest Yoga Guardian Sandra Heider. Find Sandra’s own classes and workshops in the UK through http://www.equilibriumyoga.co.uk/