Do you practice Natural Spontaneous Intimate Yoga or do you practice some form of Mental Yoga? When you practice yoga and meditation are you thinking and planning or are you feeling and sensing? Has the modern mental world taken over your natural life?
Has the modern mental world taken over your natural life?
The Internet and Smart Phones are rapidly expanding how we learn. Today we can easily learn things in minutes what would have taken hours or days a couple of decades ago. What about Real Yoga? What about the deeper life changing experiences of Natural Spontaneous Intimate Yoga? Can you really learn yoga by practicing alignment techniques and a series of step by step instructions? Are Real Yoga classes taught at your local gym? Are the yoga teachers trained via 200 hour certification programs teaching Natural Spontaneous Intimate Yoga? Is attempting to learn yoga and meditation through the internet, smart phones, and DVDs, a step backwards? Is the yoga and meditation taught in the mentally focused West in a step backwards from the Real Yoga and meditation taught by Gurus in the spiritually focused East? It depends, a step backwards would mean we are not as genuinely happy.
Happiness and Productivity
The best stretch, the prettiest, the most athletic, the best alignment, the best feeling. We strive to become better at what society values and naturally this includes becoming happier. How is happiness related to yoga? Is the happiness that occurs after we reach our goals in yoga real happiness? Is yoga often taught in ways that minimize happiness?
People who practice yoga are not happy because they are skilled at yoga.
People who practice yoga are not happy because they are skilled at yoga. People who start practicing yoga generally become happier but if you believe that "my increased skill level increases my happiness" this is a mental error that actually decreases your happiness. Going mental costs you. Thinking about your accomplishments only results in fleeting happiness because the next step along the self centered path is to judge yourself and then judge others. The end result is you remain disconnected from your true inner self and other people.
Happy people who practice yoga are naturally intimate spontaneous and productive.
Habitual mental yoga is suffering yoga and if you do it too much it will become your normal yoga mode. Most people start a yoga class mentally focused but by the end of the class they become happier. The physical focus required to perform each asana or each pose unravels the mind which results in genuine happiness.
Happy people who practice yoga are naturally intimate spontaneous and productive. The simple formula for yoga that produces happiness is : A Little Bit Happy + Focused Physical Awareness = More Happy. This is the powerful self perpetuating loop that generates physical happiness, productivity, and a natural service to all beings in your life. Letting nature take over can be completely life changing if we allow it. You can even become happy whenever you are experiencing distress because the devotional connection to all of life will override the "smaller" issues. Nature will take care of the all the details. Your true self or original self, returns to deeply fulfilling Joy, the state of genuine happiness. The intriguing question to ask is ... Will you let Natural Spontaneous Intimate Yoga unravel your mentally focused life?
Will you let Natural Spontaneous Intimate Yoga unravel your mentally focused life?
How Do We Measure Our Success In Yoga?
People like to measure their success. For instance people like to measure how good they are at various yoga poses. They strive to bend further and have perfect yoga pose alignment. This make sense because if you feel like you are making progress in your life you tend to feel better. "At least I am moving forward" you might say to yourself internally. Is this type of measurement helpful or necessary? Do we stop progressing in our yoga practice when our mastery of the variety of poses has leveled off?
If you are in a yoga class and you start measuring how well you perform poses you often do this by communicating with the teacher and the other students. Your yoga class becomes a symbiotic environments that revolves around performing and evaluating yoga but it is much more than skillful performance of poses. It has become a group activity and you become closer to those you are with. The supportive environment and the happiness created through focusing on the physical poses makes it much easier to love those around you. The depth of the love you feel is the real measure of success through yoga. If you feel better after yoga you are more likely to really love yourself and others throughout the day.
Love is Success
Everyone wants more love.
Giving and receiving love with others is success.
Giving and receiving love with others is success. You make more money so that you can have more time to give and receive love. You are kind and courteous to others so that your life flows more smoothly with more love. You are kind to others because you are kind to yourself. Love is the center of everything. Loving is success. You can only love others if you accept and love yourself because you can't give what you don't have. When you are accepting and loving yourself you naturally include and love others. Those you are loving tend to naturally love you back. Love kept only for yourself is not really love because self centered behavior feels unsuccessful (perfectionism, loneliness, stress, obsessions, fear, anger, sadness, jealousy, envy ...).
Learning Love Through Yoga
An amazing thing happens when you accept yourself and your life and others exactly as they are. You feel better and you perform better. The opposite is also true. When you pick at yourself, when you maintain a perfectionist attitude, when you criticize others, you feel worse and you perform worse.
Yoga can be a great teacher because how you practice yoga is a perfect metaphor for how you live your life.
Yoga can be a great teacher because how you practice yoga is a perfect metaphor for how you live your life. If you regularly practice yoga, meditation, or some other mind/body technique with open awareness and without judgement, your whole life will improve and deep acceptance will replace habits of judgement. It might take years because negative beliefs are deeply ingrained into who we believe we are. The alternative is to stay critical and unaware of how you keep hurting yourself and others. Judgement is the root cause of difficulties in relationships, difficulties with money, and difficulties with all aspects of life.
By practicing yoga poses with focused concentration over and over again something changes with the way you perceive yourself and others. You start with the mental/emotional focus of achieving a specific posture. Your muscles are tight and the balance might be challenging. But to reach your goal you must give up your mental/emotional focus and switch to a physical focus.
The key to learning love through yoga is in the change of focus from mental to physical.
The key to learning love through yoga is in the change of focus from mental to physical. You must give up the mental/emotional focus and accept physical reality right now in the present moment. Acceptance is the true path of the yogi. Learning to give up who you think you are and who you think you want to be so that you can discover who you really are. You are so much more than just your thoughts. You are so much more than just your emotions. You are so much more than just your body. By shifting your focus away from the mental/emotional you become open to discovering who you really are. By discovering and realizing who you really are everything else takes care of itself. Who are you?
Natural Spontaneous Intimate Yoga
When learning or practicing yoga it is important to soften your emotional tone. Releasing emotional dialogue allows for self discovery and deep learning. Some people resist learning in this way. There is a fear that arises and the thoughts are often something like : "I don't know how to do it right", "What is the best way to do this?", "This is not good teaching" or "I can't do this without precise guidance".
A natural spontaneous yoga pose is the physical part and the mental part flowing together. The mind does not lead the body.
Somehow the pose happens without really thinking about it.
Somehow the pose happens without really thinking about it. Thinking might be happening but it is intermittent and not disruptive of the exploration. It is a physical and emotional journey and your mind is going along for the ride. If thoughts get emotional and disruptive the key is to continue practicing. Feel the sensations, notice the emotional thoughts, and let them go. If you stay intimately aware of emotional and self correcting thoughts and let them go over and over again you will develop greater freedom and intimacy in your yoga and in your life.
Developing awareness requires training because when we were small children the thoughts and emotions that would come up were strong, powerfully motivating, and necessary for our survival. We really needed to do some of the things that our parent wanted us to do so that we could fit into our family and survive. As adults these same thoughts and feelings come up but they are no longer necessary for our survival. These same thought patterns, our resistance to accepting life as it is, will come up during our yoga practice. They are our practice environment for re-discovering our real self, our original self.
Realize who you truly are
While performing a challenging pose you can learn to let go of the thoughts that arise. You can discover who you are regardless of the emotional and self correcting thoughts. You can realize that you already are the best you can be.
You can realize that it is natural for emotions to be noticed and felt and released.
You can realize that it is natural for emotions to be noticed and felt and released. You can realize that there is intimacy in each moment. Intimacy does not require that you improve in some detailed way. Intimacy does not require that you feel good right now. Intimacy only requires that you listen to the inner guidance that is beyond self correction. You are already perfect and your natural spontaneous intimate path is just as it should be.
The more you practice the more you realize that practice never ends. This is the key to realizing your true self, your original self. If practice never ends then what you have been searching for is not going to be found later on down the road. You will never be pretty enough, you will never be brave enough, you will never be rich enough ... because you already are enough. In this moment right now you are enough. Intimacy with your true self, your original self, is here right now, but you cannot see that because you keep pushing it away. Look closer. Look into the pain that you think you need to get rid of.
Listening to your inner pirate or listening to a yoga teacher that is determined to get you into "proper alignment" or listening to DVD soundtrack that keeps correcting your posture is not recommended as a daily practice.
Yoga with pirates (and mentally zealous yoga teachers)
Listening to your inner critic (inner pirate) or listening to a yoga teacher that is determined to get you into "proper alignment" or listening to DVD soundtrack that keeps correcting your posture is not recommended as a daily practice. Do it too much and it will create stress. If you hear and believe (internally or externally) that you are not doing it right you reinforce the habits that made you want to practice yoga in the first place.
Example : If you feel bad your inner pirate might be thinking "I must practice yoga to feel better", then while you practice you think "Is this the best pose for how I feel?" or "Am I doing this pose right?" or "Do I really want to practice yoga right now?".
You become like a cat chasing its tail ... round and round you go ... delaying intimacy with the real self.
You become like a cat chasing its tail ... round and round you go ... delaying intimacy with the real self . But eventually you start to feel better as the thoughts wear themselves down as you start to believe you achieved proper alignment. The false wisdom (of your inner pirate) is to believe that your self correcting mind (or the correcting mind of the teacher) got you onto the right path and then you found peace. The true wisdom in this scenario is that the self correcting emotional thinking made you feel better only because releasing the thinking made you feel better. The false wisdom appears true because self correcting thinking keeps happening before you feel better. The true wisdom is true because you were feeling better before the self correcting thinking started. It is not a bad thing if a yoga teacher keeps correcting your postures etc. You simply practice with her thoughts just like you do with your own. Listen, adjust, and let them go.
Is there any benefit to self correcting emotional thinking?
Many people go through periods where self corrective emotional thinking is consistently active (depression, anxiety, stress, ...). A lot of emotional thinking is definitely a stress filled existence. But what about a little thinking like remembering to pay your bills or buy a birthday gift? It depends on your motivation. You can pay your bills and buy birthday cards because of love or fear. Thinking about the right way to do something usually includes thoughts about looking good while performing (fear).
Trying to look good is fearful emotional thinking. As Yoda once said "Do. Or do not. There is no try."
Trying to look good is fearful emotional thinking. As Yoda once said "Do. Or do not. There is no try." Trying to look good slows down learning. Trying to look good is a futile attempt to avoid facing your fears. Your whole life can be based around trying to look good. Trying to look good is usually about social fears such as : fears of future uncomfortable interactions with self and others, or fears of starting and stopping intimate relationships, or fears of deep supportive relationships.
Exploring by letting go of emotional thinking speeds up learning because fears are faced and this creates growth. Many people choose to go slow while maintaining emotionally thinking. This pattern often includes lots of thinking about how other people should be behaving (yes you learned it from your parents). Lots of emotional thinking while learning is more painful but there is no failure, only slower learning until you again release the emotional thinking. You might even enjoy your suffering while learning slowly because it is familiar and feels like home (many people secretively love to criticize self and others). This is just the same suffering home you have been living in for awhile and there is a kind of comfort with anything familiar.
Social fears and yoga poses
Many of our fears started in social situations and are copies of other peoples fears (parents, siblings, friends). Fears create tension and tightness in muscles and result in changes to your posture and flexibility. Over time you store your emotional fear history in your posture. You record your social fear patterns in the tightness of your bodies postural muscles. Some areas of your body and life are tight and feel stuck and some areas are open and flowing. Using yoga your tight muscles can be released and your posture can be changed. While you do this you face the remnants of your fears and the associated thought patterns. Fearful thoughts get triggered everyday as you physically move out into the world. Yoga helps you move through fears and continue to grow. It is all just part of growing up no matter how old, tight, and stiff you are.
Yoga helps you move through fears and continue to grow.
Releasing thinking reduces injuries
Injuries during yoga occur when you try too hard and go too fast. Injuries occur when you stretch muscles too much or strain something other than muscles (ligaments, cartilage, nerves). To far and too fast are subtle fearful forms of trying to be good or look good. Give up trying to look good and go slower by exploring the emotions stored in your muscles and you minimize the possibilities of injuries.
We learn best by listening to our inner wisdom while facing our fears. With any challenging physical task you need to slowly build up the difficulty levels.
When practicing yoga you want to stretch muscles and not ligaments because muscles want to stretch and ligaments do not. When your critical mind is released you naturally know the difference.
When practicing yoga you want to stretch muscles and not ligaments because muscles want to stretch and ligaments do not. When your critical mind is released you naturally know the difference. If you are a beginner or want to try advanced poses you still need some form of instruction because there are many useful techniques and safer ways to get into and out of certain postures. Slowly exploring to find out what wants to stretch is the key. It is good to take in suggestions from teachers and then try them out and let go of thoughts that arise. If the suggestions are beneficial they will stick. If they are not beneficial you won't do them anymore. You don't need to think about it.
We recommend everyone practice therapeutic yoga. The idea that advanced yogis perform advanced poses is just that ... an idea. Savasana is often called the most difficult pose because very little physical activity is going on. Unwinding the constantly striving mind. Just being. This is where all learning starts and ends. Be sure to tell your friends with health challenges about our free online yoga therapy classes delivered pose by pose via youtube. These classes are from the Yoga Therapy Prescriptions DVD by Laura Hawes.