My hope for my students is that they learn more quickly than me! It has taken me a long time to internalize the purpose of yoga: to integrate the body-mind-breath connection for the purpose of stilling the consciousness.
When I started doing yoga I was 24 years old. I was immediately taken by the poses and how they made me feel. I loved the feeling! In my life then I wasn’t feeling all that great so the yoga experience was a stark contrast.
My love for the Asana, and the fact that they made me feel so good, confused my 24 year old mind. Teachers were saying body, mind and breath but in my heart I was saying “yeah, right, let’s do more poses!”
Over the years, as I continued with my daily practice, life circumstances started popping up. I moved to a new state a couple of times, got married, had two kids, etc. These events introduced new stresses and general upheavals. I began to notice that during the upheavals the results of my practice (how my body felt) was different. I noticed that my body didn’t feel as rested–that one annoying tension was still there. Or, worse, it was worse.
Next, I noticed that during the upheavals, I was less able to concentrate on my breath in Pranayama or while doing poses. I saw my mind wandering away and I would guide it back to the task at hand. Occassionally I would spend more time guiding my mind back to home base.
I have been lucky so far in my life that my upheavals have almost always come to an end and things have returned back to normal. So, between the upheavals I had periods of time when the practice was more productive–with less distractions. My body would feel more rested again. Those tensions greatly diminished.
Now many months into our COVID-19 pandemic this upheaval has lasted longer than anticipated. As I write this at the end of Sept. 2020 it does seem like the pandemic is not going to end this year–maybe not even next year. It’s all a wait and see game.
Stress is persistent
The pandemic has persisted and so has the stress it has caused. I have been waiting for the stress to subside so my practice can get “back to normal”. But I don’t think the stress going to go away. I suspect that instead of relying on my body or breath to change my mind, like I have done all these years, I need to take a different approach. I think I need to get to my body and breath through my mind. Change my mind so that the body and breath can then be more profound–the effects longer lasting.
Don’t get me wrong, the practice has CERTAINLY been successful in diminishing my stress. One practice on any given day drastically reduces the stress level. But the problem is, because of the pandemic, the baseline stress has been raised higher than usual. So, even though the stress is diminished it’s still not low (kind of sounds like the COVID cased in Ohio and elsewhere).
How do I connect to the body and breath through my mind? I am not 100% sure yet. I think something about the mind needs to change some what independent of the body and breath. The mind needs a workout to strengthen it’s thought patterns, in order to change the consciousness. The consciousness needs an improvement separate from the body-mind-breath connection.
I don’t think this mind change is going to happen over night. Perhaps it will be a long endeavor? Or maybe because I can see the problem I am on the cusp of a solution? More will be revealed. I’ll report back.