Is your yoga practice leaving you empty?
Is your yoga practice leaving you empty?
After many years of yoga practice I came to realise that my yoga practice was not supporting my body.
Despite the promotion of yoga for a supple body and a focussed mind, I could within it all sense that something was not as it was meant to be. The body was, on the whole supple, the postures were accomplished and accurate, I enjoyed the time with myself, seemingly all good, but when it came to my neck and trapezius tension yoga was not making an iota of difference, despite the specific focus within my practice to support this.
I was relying on the postures to get rid of a pain in my body that I just wanted gone, and as such with my practice also came an element of trying to make my body better.
I could not ignore the feeling of hardness in my body (which was signalling the way I was living) nor the puzzlement as to why some yogis could speak of bliss when I felt nothing of this spiritual connection. Looking back on it now, I can understand the ‘nothing’ feeling as an emptiness within – I realised there was no enrichment in my practice, that is, nothing that brought a sense of nurturing to the body, or silky quality to my movements, or a sense of connection and knowing of my inner essence.
In effect I was trying to fill an emptiness with more emptiness, or in other words, putting effort and striving to ‘make better’ or improve from a perceived place of lack. I had first judged my body to be lacking ‘my neck should not feel like this’, therefore I need to change it, and ‘I should be feeling more’, therefore ‘I can’t be a good enough yogi.’
So at best my yoga practice seemed to be doing nothing for me according to my own expectations and beliefs. But what was more, I had started to feel it cementing my body with the repetition of movements that were devoid of union or inner-connection and thus devoid of connection to God – even though the qualities of God stillness, love, harmony, joy and truth are constantly and forever in the space around us and flowing through us, and can be aligned to in any moment.
The repeated movements under the consciousness of yoga made sure I moved in my session (and thereafter) in a particular way that did not support awareness of or connection to any of those heavenly qualities. And that, by those very considered and precise physical movements, neither was I to realise the control I was placing myself under to not feel the very manipulation and disfigurement of true movement.
True movement is a movement made in the knowing of and conscious presence with our innermost essence, our soul, part of the one soul.
I was not in true movement, although I did not (could not) consciously know this at the time; yet, I stopped my practice to see what would happen. The emptiness and hardness in my body continued but the stop moment had been made and space was allowed …
A couple of years later I connected to The Yoga of Stillness, a practice that supported me to nurture a different relationship with movement. This time the focus on each movement within the practice is from sensing from within how a movement needs to be made to support the body, and the delicate quality of the movement itself.
No trying for an end result, or pushing for any outcome, just allowing the body itself to sense and instruct each movement to be what it is to be.
In this way the detail sensed in the movement was different each time but what I could very clearly feel in every session, was the releasing in the body from the imposition of un-true movements in life I had been making to date. These un-true movements for example can be the many daily movements towards outcomes I had decided I needed, like using effort and drive to succeed and feel validated, or movements made to gain approval or to be liked. Or un-true movements made that harm another such as frustrated thoughts or actions towards them, or simply daily habits and patterns that are not loving or do not support our body or inner essence.
Our quality of movement is in everything; the way we physically move the body, what we think, and how we relate to others. They are all movements, yet it is the quality of being, the connection to the qualities of God first, that inform how each is moved or expressed.
My yoga practice still offers this opportunity to let go of movement that is not true, or loving, or harmonious. It offers a space to connect deeply within, to become ever more familiar with the vibration of stillness, the depth of love we are held in and the harmonious flow of movement that is our natural way to be.
These movements enrich the quality and way of being with oneself and in life, and from that quality and way of being our next movements are informed, and so the enrichment deepens.