untying knots

“The goal is not to tie ourselves in knots … we’re already tied in knots. The aim is to untie the knots in our hearts. The aim is to unite with the ultimate, loving, and peaceful power in the universe.” – max strom

 

this is (k)not (necessarily) yoga

this is the first blog i’ve written for a few weeks. over labor day i went to the desert, and came home (after several days of inhaling the playa dust) with a respiratory illness.  not having been sick like that in years, it brought me back to a much simpler practice.  i know all the things to do to take care of myself, but what do i do when i don’t have the energy to even do those?  several days  my morning practice simply involved sitting in mediation for five or ten minutes, trying not to fall asleep.  the thought of asana, or much physical exertion at all was exhausting to me.  shavasana was the most complicated asana i even attempted.  my practice is always, but especially this past week, just staying present with the whispering wisdom of my body.

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i teach a lot of beginning and gentle yoga classes. one of the most common things i hear from my new students is “i’m not flexible.”   i typically respond with something like, “good, then you’ll have no choice but to feel what’s happening.”

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somewhere along yoga’s journey into the west, an idea developed that “yoga” means “asana” …. and that “asana” means “impressive body tricks”.   and while i’ll admit that some of the postures, in some of their expressions, do require a bit of contortionist skills, that is certainly not what i understand yoga to be about.  in pantanjali’s yoga sutras, the only mention of asana is “stirham sukham asanam” – which basically means finding ease (or relaxation) and stillness in the posture.  the postures are just tools we use to help focus the awareness and learn how to be in ease.  how many of us approach anything in life, including our yoga practice, with the search for ease?

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when we look for ease we are not necessarily looking for total comfort – rather, we move toward a place where we can notice what’s happening without judgement … without the thought that there needs to be more or less.  sometimes we feel uncomfortable things, physical and emotional, on the mat and off.  our practice is to  acknowledging what is and without harming ourselves, being present with it…  breathe into it…  recognize that it is, as all things are, temporary.

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this week, my assignment to you is to do make everything you can be your practice —  your every day tasks like cooking, eating, dishes, cleaning, showering, conversations, driving, biking, etc.  you don’t have to be on a mat to do things in a very intentional, mindful way.  while you are doing these things, let your intention be to refrain from doing anything else.  specifically notice the sensations of your body and emotions that come up while you are practicing these things mindfully.  don’t judge, just notice.  if you notice physical tension or pain or challenging emotions, just notice.  if you notice openness, expansion, ease and more desirable emotions – just notice.  if you notice judgement arising, just notice it.  give it permission to move on, but don’t create more judgment about having it.

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may you find the peace and ease to allow the knots to be there, while allowing space for them to let go.

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blessings on our journey of healing,

vanessa

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3 thoughts on “untying knots

  1. Thank you for teaching me mindfulness toward my body. As I have been recovering from Dengue Fever, I have literally noticed my body responding with vitality in spite of seemingly opposite sensations. Even though one part of me said I was exhausted and could hardly stand for two minutes to even chop a carrot, I would rest and then try again later. While I rested I could actually feel healing energy flowing back. I am SO grateful for an amazing immunity system that works so well, I can FEEL it! I guess gratefulness is a judgement but HEY I can’t help it! 😉

  2. Thanks, Vanessa, for sharing your insights and knowledge in such a warm, supportive and practical way. I’ll keep this to re-read and remind.

    Ellen

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