Updated: Aug 3
THE OUTER SHAPE OF OUR STUCK BODY/MIND
A TWISTED WEB OF INNER AND OUTER AWARENESS
Chitta Vritti Nirodha is where the yoga sutras start. Our evolution to standing upright along with our thinking capacity is what defines us as a species, and cultivating a well tuned mind is a noble goal. But our spinning thought process is “ethereal” and about as easy to tune as a snowfall.
POSTURE AND BREATH
Focusing awareness on hard and soft things?
But compared to catching snowflakes, the body is “solid” and easy to hold, observe and learn the shape we've twisted Body into and maybe feel the movement habits that molded this shape. This Body shape we have molded with our lifetime collection of movement habits is our primary holding or stiffness pattern called “Posture”. Posture will generally influence and even dictate not only how far we can bend forward or backward but specifically which joints in these patterns are more stiff or more open. Different Postures that seem equally stiff, can have completely different, even opposite patterns of stiffness. Each particular pattern tends to move automatically, getting a little more flexible and stronger but basically maintaining its original imbalance. Only if the movement habits soften will significant balancing change occur. A particular way of bending forward and backward is needed to free Body’s habitually molded shape. This kind of discipline creates “new movement possibilities” that becomes balancing for the pathological Body shape of Posture.
HOW TO WORK
Any form of Hatha Yoga inherently is a focus on Body but few of them focus so diligently on the "body process" that rests at the heart and soul of any mind/body practice, Breathing, like Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Not so solid like the structure of the body so a mostly unconscious process for most of us, exploring the raw simple movements of Inhale UP and Exhale DOWN will show us many beneficial things that just huffing, puffing and grunting ignore. This breath movement i call “Body-Breath" begins gathering and focusing our random, kaotic external awareness, eventually creating a valuable inner tool for self observation on many levels. This Integration process begins stabilizing a non-verbal foundation, a place we can rest back in and observe, in this case emerging details of our Posture and how it moves. Also, without even yet feeling any of your Posture’s structural details, just resting back in this non-thinking awareness will begin to loosen the knotted movement habits that stiffen even the tightest Hips and Shoulders of Brahma and Vishnu Granthis. So until thinking your way through Inhale UP and Exhale DOWN dissolves thoroughly into the bodily experience of Kinesthetic movement, just stay with Inhale UP and Exhale DOWN. Until thinking your movement (an oxymoron actually ;-) dissolves into a body awareness thang, even the most accurate alignment thoughts about the laces (your arms, legs, hands, feet, fingers, toes, etc) only engages our ego's body dead thinking effort, and makes our knots tighter. Then there is the backdrop of general mental kaos resisting this, so, as as your now totally confused mental dictator (and the emotions it's trying to protect your from) continually pulls you out of it,
Just come back to the breath
WHERE TO START
Growing subtle non verbal awareness of the body by using subtle breath, “Body-Breath" (big movements like sun salutations coordinated with the breath) will generate a feel that there are 2 particular areas of our body are. particularly troubled. The upper and lower torso, due to their complex structure are existentially these areas. Deep and versatile breath awareness can manage the healthy functioning of Posture as a whole of course, but focusing more in these 2 structural areas brings us directly into the Dualistic relationship that the whole of Posture is ultimately stuck in. In the lower torso, the greater area of gross structural parts (the bones, joints and ligaments) all form a bowl that holds various organs with energetic properties. This general area is the Pelvis. And inside our pelvic bowl are particular muscular intersections that function as managers of the relationship between these gross structures or form of the bowl with these organs and their energies.
The Vedic perspective considers this bowl a big knot it calls Brahma Granthi, and the muscular intersections where structure and energy interact, Moola and Uddiyana Bandhas. It also defines more specific psychic energy centers that characterize this Granthi or Knot, Chakras. More on the subtle energy stuff later. For now, the simple math to untie Bramha Granthi looks like this:
Organizing Bones + Expancive Breath = Healthy Bandhas
Healthy Bandhas untie the Granthis
WHY DO THIS
For most of us, our overall Posture is anything but balanced, a twisted quality rooted in the Granthis that contain fairly dead Bandhas and little sense of breathing. Moving this way twists our Posture tighter until some area feels chronic strain. Contrarily even a tiny sense of moving “With” the breath starts to bring Bandhas back to life and the Bandhas gradually show us, through our body’s feeling sense, the threads and ropes of the Fascial knot of Brahma Granthi that physically loves directing grounded movement through the pelvis. Just the felt sense of your pelvic Posture affecting your legs and feet in walking loosens Bramha Granthi but using this new awareness in daily Ashtanga practice “With real and right Attitude” really starts untying the knot instead of tightening it. This proper attitude is a tricky and vital balancing act that creates the sensory foundation that the Body-Breath of Bandhas provides. A growing process that literally shows you internally how bones can align better and muscles can work through them better. Ultimately you will be using Gravity more efficiently to do all the hard work for you.
Power and flexibility in your sun salutations anyone? :-)
This sensory activity is possible in every moment of our day but mostly neglected in the storm of external chitta vritti pursuits. It is the nature of the Apanic or downward and grounding aspect of Kundalini energy that calms and focuses the mind (chitta vritti nirodha). A clear mind can then add adjacent anatomical details to a now expanding structural felt sense that gradually, with steady practice, reaches throughout the whole body, providing greater Apanic grounding that can manage larger amounts of stress, gracefully.
More stable and adaptible “Nervous” system anyone?
DIVING INTO THE PELVIS
As we focus specifically in Brahma Granthi and feel a sense of Where the Pelvis is stuck, more Anterior or Posterior tilt, we will also get a feel of How Inhale UP and Exhale DOWN guides the pelvic tilt forward and backward respectively and the non verbal Why starts to crystallize in your kineshtetic awareness. Welcome to the emerging Body-Breath awareness that will uncover the mystery of Uddiyana Bandha. Then as we connect this new pelvic movement awareness to the gear movement in the hip joints turning our femurs, the Body-Breath awareness that will uncover the mystery of Moola Bandha emerges. This Body-Breath movement (Bandhas in Action) will more and more show you how to organize your bones into efficient alignment. This Magic feel of your core organizing things allows your old stiff extrinsic beach muscles that twisted your Posture so rigid, to rest on a different feeling of your intrinsic core muscles supporting them from deep inside the earth. A whole body Power and Freedom grows that transforms your entire Body, Mind, Emotions and Soul; the true nature of Hatha Yoga.
From breathing alignment into gross bone movement, more subtle doors of perception begin to open. Clear breath awareness lights up the feeling of Prana and Apana at the energetic level of Nervous System awareness, which is directly helpful in gathering emotional stability when you need it. But more on that later.
Your Posture (capital P) has been molded and solidified by a wholistic multi dimensional network (a matrix) of influences, physical of course but also emotional, mental, genetic and also by Karma, the stars (Jyotish) and placement (Vastu). This Gestalt that Posture manifests in is the rabbit hole of awareness that goes deep and broad and is the focus of Hatha Yoga, Body as tool to enlightenment (Richard Freeman). So I'll begin with the grossest, and so simplest aspect of this complex matrix to awaken to, the organization of the bones of the pelvis. And specifically the two extreme and opposite imbalances a pelvis can fall into, anterior and posterior tilt.
WHAT'S NEEDED FROM YOU?
Good guidance is vital, but there is a dedication and discipline needed from you, for any form of body awareness practice to work. 3 main aspects of ourselves need to be engaged, And, a fine tuning of our main life process is needed to bring the Body, Mind and Emotions together so:
1 JUST SHOW UP (magic can NOT happen if your Body doesn’t get there) to:
2 THE SAME PRACTICE (less variety for the Mind to chew on)
3 EVERY DAY (no Emotional decisions permitted here)
and the big catalyst that ties them all together:
4 BREATH AWARENESS
If this seems like wayyyyy tooooo much...... No problem. Just take “The Blue Pill”, and this story ends. You wake up in your bed, believe whatever you want to belive, move however your Habits and Goals tell you to..........
Red Pill anyone?
Questions and comments in the FB post work best, see ya there.