Yoga class VI

It is not uncommon for us to make the asanas really hard for ourselves just by not being fully present. Being present means being open, as the present is an ever-changing, interpenetrating set of variables and their relationships.

We are not used to being open, for multifarious reasons, most fundamentally because we are taught that that our ‘real self’ should be defined, we should ‘know who we are’. You’ve got to be ‘something’ or ‘someone’; ‘who do you think you are?’; ‘What do you want to be?’…

Limiting, isn’t it? So we are all limited, to different extents, in that we have ourselves pinned down and defined, shut down. So practicing the yoga poses starts to fundamentally challenge our ideas about what we are supposed to be. Because we aspire to feel more open in a yoga pose and because our teachers encourage us to be so, then we need to open to the present, so that we can feel the spine (or hamstrings, or quadriceps or whatever) this begins to wake us up to Eastern philosophy, where the self, or who we are, is defined by being undefined, by using ungraspable metaphors for self like ‘emptiness’ or ‘big sky mind’ or ‘that which neither is born nor dies’ and so on. Bear this in mind as you practice the session below and ask yourself: am I holding myself back or letting myself go?

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There is something formless yet complete
That existed before Heaven and Earth.
How still how empty!
Dependent on nothing unchanging,
All pervading, unfailing.
One may think of it as the Mother of all things under heaven.
I do not know it’s name but I call it “meaning.”
If I had to give it a name I should call it “The Great.”

— La-tzu