Today, before we began our practice, we did a little exercise where we extended one arm out in front of us loosely and delicately. Then, I asked everyone to hold their arm in the same position, but strong this time as if to be prepared to resist a push or nudge and hold the position. The point here was to bring awareness to the signal the mind sends to the arm. When holding the arm up flimsily, the signal is weak compared to the strength of the signal sent when the arm is sturdy. Notice we have the conscious power to intensify the signal being sent from the mind to the muscle. The signal is energy, so we can consciously control our energy level.
I asked everyone to imagine the signal as energy traveling through an energy channel, and the energy signal flows (or rather “blows”) through the channel like wind. The stronger the wind blows through, the less likely anything will be able to catch hold of the sides of the channels. But if the wind or energy signal is weak, buildup can cling to the walls of the channels and accumulate to a point where it begins to block the channel (like an artery with plaque buildup—the more plaque buildup there is, the more constricted the vessel becomes making it difficult for blood to flow through with ease).
When holding yoga postures, we want to send a strong signal—not overly forced, but clear, certain, solid, and unwavering. Remaining consciously and intentionally strong in our postures and consciously holding a strong signal strength has the effect of blowing anything clinging to the channel walls off and preventing anything from gaining a foot hold on the channel walls. Clear channel walls mean that energy (or life force) can flow freely with ease.
After giving good effort to clear our channels by sending strong energy wind currents through, it’s time to relax. Relaxation also works with the channels, but in a different way. Instead of sending wind through, relaxing dilates the channels, opening them up to allow an even freer flow of energy, life force, prana, chi, etc…, and with no particular direction this time. Relaxation is expansive and receptive. Keep this in mind the next time you assume shavasana at the end of your asana practice.
I concluded today’s practice with a recap of YS 1.1 and then introduced YS 1.2.
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