Monday, April 13, 2009

earth water fire air

one more yoga day today and then it's back to the mad dash working to get the street newz to the printer on thursday.

so here's the scoop on the chakras:

the base chakra, muladhara, is associated with earth and the sound is lum with variations as vowels are added: la, li, lo etc.

the sacral chakra, svadisthana, is connected to water, and the sound we were taught for the purposes of yoga is 'wa.'

manipura is the solar plexus chakra, the fire one, and the sound is 'ra.' be careful with 'ra,' though, because fire goes everywhere and can easily be uncontrollable.

the heart chakra is anahata, and the sound is 'ya' which is the air sound. 'ya' will lift your asanas, make them light. but don't get too light, go back to 'la' to get grounded again.

and we didn't really work much with the throat (vishudda:ether) or the brow (ajna) and crown (sahasrara) chakras which are associated with something beyond, although, of course, we chant 'om' prior to each yoga session.

i remember from my reiki days that the colours of the chakras coincide with the colours of the rainbow, starting at the base chakra: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. and they're equally as magical.

a very cool thing we learned yesterday is about the power of the intelligence. if you take urdhva mukha janu sirsasana and bring your intelligence to the bent leg hip area, then take paschimottanasana and imagine your leg is bent like in the first pose ..... well, try it and see what happens. the baking bread thing from the day before is also useful - putting air into the belly area just below the diaphragm.

birjoo's really focussed on teaching us how to use our own bodies to learn sequencing. it's always about the base, it seems. and finding where the breath is quiet - then you know you're doing it correctly. he's got us looking at the area(s) that might be closed or tight in one pose, then thinking about other poses where that area is open. the idea is to do the pose where the area is open and then, while the consciousness is alerted to the feeling of openness, moving to an asana where the same area is closed and, if required, envisioning the previous pose. it's incredible, the power of mind over matter!

what else did we learn .... something about buying a television and taking your family with you to make that decision, and then buying a car ... i think i lost the learning of that because i couldn't get beyond the car reference. i cycle and mostly hate cars ... a car almost killed me and then there's all the toxic crap and the oil and gas industry and the wars ...

and i also learned that not enough time in savasana makes me feel angry.

but there was an analogy i could relate to about going to a market with lots of stalls. we often practice whimsically, birjoo said, adjusting our postures continually without any real purpose. this is like going to a market and going in and out of the stalls unsure what you want. he encouraged us to take supta padangusthasana imagining that we were only allowed to go into one stall and we had to stay there for an hour. we'll be more careful about which market stall we'll go into, right? and so it is with asanas. using supta padangusthasana we were encouraged to make adjustments and we could stay with the adjustments if we were happy with them. but if we made an adjustment that wasn't correct, that didn't result in quiet mind and slowed breathing, then we had to come out of the pose and try the other leg. i've had really good foundational training so this wasn't much of a challenge for me, though i did learn that if i move my foot inwards my hip lifted. i hadn't noticed that before.

so it's really about going inside and, if you've had training that gives you a good solid foundation so you know how the poses are correctly aligned, then trying to feel why that's so. birjoo encourages us to try and do things wrong, and see what happens. i think we all have a greater appreciation for the insistence on alignment that mr iyengar's method follows, and especially a greater understanding of why we have all those adjustment instructions. and that's still important for beginners, birjoo said, they need to know intellectually what each asana requires. they're building their database. but once that database is established, it's not enough to just do the asanas mechanically, using only the mind, because then yoga becomes stale and we might find we're stuck in bad patterns. we've got to awaken the consciousness, through pranayama, and then apply the intelligence to our poses, use the chakra sounds and other techniques birjoo has shared with us, to understand at a cellular level what the asana is.

it's rather a huge investment, this yoga stuff, but ultimately i feel i'm investing in my own health. if only our rather stale health care system would incorporate such teachings, so we can all be healthier beings infused with the universal energies, feeling empowered and participants in our own lives! ironically, i sit in the yoga room looking across at view towers, one of the biggest, probably the biggest, relatively low income buildings in victoria. i wonder about those people over there, how their lives might change if they had the opportunity of yoga. i think about how this distinction between mind and intelligence can influence people trying to relieve themselves of their addictions, if only they knew the power inside. if only they knew the joy that yoga can bring! i think of mr. iyengar's humble beginnings, of all the years he lived in poverty, even raising his children, and of the school his book sales have built.

i'm thankful to the yoga centre for their bursaries and scholarships that enable me to participate and learn and grow and stay sane.