I started my Healthy Back Series class last week. My intention is to bring the yoga into science and keep the science in check with yoga. And to bring awareness to…..well, awareness. And isn’t that what yoga is? To yoke the mind and the body. So that is how I started out. Bringing in the awareness of our senses and our ability to intake from the world (our sensory cortex) and mindfully let it out to the world (our motor cortex). And I provided a diagram of how our breath affects other aspects of our lives through the autonomic nervous system and feeds back to our limbic system pre-frontal cortex (the 3-Daphragms Model, thank you Matthew Taylor). We went through the experience of this in the body and guided imagery to conjure up awareness within our own experience.
At the end of class I was had two interesting comments by different students. One being, “that was very gentle.” But in such a tone as to indicate, I was expecting some hard core ab work and sweating and that was just way to easy for me (I’ll admit to putting words in the mouth). Another comment was, “is there anything else beside the breathing that I should be practicing.” Ahhh, I guess the message wasn’t as clear as I thought it was. Somehow, the idea of “awareness” is something that is not “felt.” Not felt in the sense that doing a hundred situps or pullups, handstands or sun salutations might be felt. Is it so scary to go inside and “feel” your rib cage expanding, or our spine elongating or your toes touching the ground? Or maybe we get so much outside input (think sympathetic overload) that it’s hard to come out of that to sit quietly in our bodies. Or are we numb and want to physically “feel” our bodies again.
I reminded the students that we had to start somewhere. We can’t leap to the top if we haven’t built the ladder to get there (or the strength to jump). I think I will have to review that “no effort in the path is ever lost”….a message from the Bhagavad Gita. There can always be gain in any effort made towards awareness.
And then I remind myself to Just Breathe.