Kimi Marin Yoga

Honor limitations. Transcend Boundaries.

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Riding Your Own Current

There is energy all around us: the energy of the sun, the energy it takes to move an object, wasted energy on unrequited love, energy of thoughts (i.e. scattered, constricted, and mental blocks). Yoga is a process to allow for a free flow of energy to move through you. According to Erich Schiffmann, “your body’s ability to function as a clean efficient channel is limited by stiffness, lack of strength, and lack of endurance” (65). As we remove blocks, limit discomfort, heal wounds, release tension, energy flows more freely, we are more at ease and comfortable in our bodies and in our life.

Many of us are ambitious, have dreams and drive. Yet, we learn time again that we cannot force anything to happen. Everything — our relationships, our careers, hobbies, talents, and dreams — take time to grow, develop and mature. I have a quote on my fridge by the Greek sage Epictetus that says “No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.” Epictetus believed that we cannot control our external environment, we can only control our actions. For him, happiness was living in accordance to nature, “which means (a) pursuing a course through life intelligently responding to one’s own needs and duties as a sociable human being, but also (b) wholly accepting one’s fate and the fate of the world as coming directly from the divine intelligence which makes the world the best that is possible” (Seddon). We suffer when we try to control what is out of our control and ignore what is within our power to change.

In yoga, as in life, we often force ourselves to go further than comfortable or place our value in terms of what we can accomplish. Our mat is a microcosm of our behavior in the world. What happens on our mat, how we drift, daydream, force, embrace, and breakdown, is how we also react to situations off the mat. Yogi Joel Kramer summed it up when he said “The quality of mind that you bring to yoga is of the utmost importance.” Yoga is not about working to accomplish something, yoga is about being present, to remove the blocks that prevent us from understanding our true nature. Kramer mentions that when we force ourselves into postures, when we move to accomplish something, yoga becomes a series of repetitious exercises with a goal rather that a process of profound transformation.

Instead of forcing yourself into a posture, tune into the subtle energy currents that are moving through your body. In yoga, when we turn into ourselves, become aware of ourselves, we find that our bodies continuously give us feedback.  You can notice where you are tight, in pain, open, and parts or sides you are favoring. More importantly, you can tune into the parts of your body and poses you can control. There are energy lines moving through your body. The energy lines start at your core and move into your limbs. Our center is our pelvis and the “most important line of energy, always, is your spine” (Schiffmann, 67). Each yoga pose consists of at least two energy lines and you must learn to focus on your internal sensations to move energy into parts of your body.

When working with energy lines, work to channel your energy within your limits. There is no forcing or pushing because this will only create more tension. Think about if you were to push against a closed door, all your muscles are engaged you tighten up and the door still won’t budge. You run the risk of injuring yourself rather than opening the door. Become as relaxed as possible and feel your body sink deeper. As muscle tension releases, your body will go deeper into the pose naturally. This surrender to what you can control can be applied into everything  in your life. Follow your breath within and notice your own energy currents. Extend them, relax them, and watch yourself grow at your rhythm. Knowing when to rest, when to expand, and where your limits lie, you will find that most everything will come at a greater ease and your life will be full of more joy.

“Epictetus,” by Keith H. Seddon. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. n.d. Web. January 21, 2013.
Kramer, Joel. Yoga as Self Transformation. Yoga Journal May/June 1980. Web.
Schiffmann, Erich. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness. New York: Pocket Books, 1996. Print.

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Dancing With Transformation

We each have a masculine and a feminine aspect to ourselves. Scientifically, we are here because of the uniting of a male and female chromosomes to make a whole new being. In Hindu mythology, each god is powerless without the goddess who is divine force of creation and transformation. The female power is referred to as Shakti. Shakti is considered everything that is perceivable through the senses and the mind – the “powerful, active, dynamic” energy that “creates, pervades, governs, and protects the universe” (Kinsley). Every breath we take, move we make, thought we create is considered Shakti energy. Shakti is around us, within us, and is us. We are all the face of this amazing goddess energy. Shakti is the power to transform and move forward. What better time than January to tap into the transformational energy within you, as you, metaphorically speaking, die and are reborn with resolutions to steer your life differently?

“The contemporary philosopher Yasuhiko Kimura defines transformation as a dance between Being and Becoming” (Kempton). Being is the changeless source of what is beyond the reach of everyday senses, speech and mind.  Becoming is the ever-changing and growing Shakti life force within you. Becoming is a process of transformation. Transformation is a bumpy process that requires turning ourselves inside out and is rarely pleasant. In alchemy it is believed you can turn lead into gold – a  metaphor for releasing our true nature from the heavy illusions of our mind. We are releasing what we know of ourselves. Changing our identity and how an aspect of ourselves relates to the world. This requires heat to burn the old, stability of earth in the midst of uncertainty, air of our breath to find focus, and fluidity of water to move and change.

The first step of transformation requires a crisis point. Something happens in your life that makes you aware that a change is needed. Whether  a death, a breakup, a medical problem, financial crisis, or weight issue, you are aware that your life needs to transform because you are no longer able to stay static in the manner you are presently living. To change things you need heat to burn the old.

In alchemy, a solid is burned  to ash. In your own life heat is the discipline of moving past our egos and into the  realm of uncertainty and discomfort. Go to a place that requires you look at yourself; you are to open not only your eyes but all your senses to what you need to do and then do it. Fueled by the fire of your belly, the discipline of will,  get up and go for a run, pack up the pictures of your ex-lover, or take a shower. What is required you do today to transform? Sitting in your uncertainty, in a place of limbo, use to force of heat to move  forward and burn out what no longer serves you.

In this time of uncertainty, when your emotions are turbulent, life is chaotic, and possibly your self-esteem is low, you can be easily swept away toward temptations not conducive to your growth. You will benefit most from the grounding to the earth. This is a great time to tap into a creative outlet, meditate, hike, and/or join a group of interest. Do something that keeps you present to the moment.

As life is uncertain, as days turn into night, the air of your breath will always guide you truthfully. Your breath is a connection between your mind and body. As your mind or body begins stressed, depressed, over or under-extended, your breath will become choppy, ragged, and shallow. Begin to pay attention to your breath. Notice the cadence and rhythm of your breath when you walk, run, talk with a friend, wash dishes, watch television, at all and any time! Your breath is the best indicator of what is happening within you. Consciously continue to take long, deep breaths to even out your nervous system and work to maintain a calmness throughout your whole body. To maintain mind/body calmness is  especially important if everything around you is chaotic.

Remember, change is always occurring within and around us. We are not in the same mind-frame that we were when we woke up this morning and we will evolve and change emotions, preferences, and maybe even opinions before we go to bed tonight. Our ability to move and change is the fluidity of our core self. Water, the ultimate shape shifter, moves, modifies, melts, freezes, or vaporizes depending on the circumstances and environment. Each cell in your body consists of 65-90% of water. Tap into this element that makes of the majority of your physical self and recognize your own adaptability in each circumstance.

Recognize that the hardness of earth is great to ground down and stabilize in order to grow, to adapt, to change but not to stay fixed in a way of life. Use the fire of discipline to move forward. Follow the air of your breath to find your true self-awareness. And move, sway, and adapt with the fluidity of water that makes-up each of your cells. Transform as you follow your own beat in the dance between becoming and being.

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Kempton, Sally. “Waking Life.” Yoga Journal. Cruz Bay Publishing Inc, March 2008. Web. 3 Jan 2013.
Kinsley, David. Hindu Goddess.Berkeley:University of California Press, 1986. Print.

SITES OF INTEREST:
“The Breath as a Mind-Body ‘Guage'”
Alchemy – Seven Stages of Alchemical Transformation

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