By: Rachelle Tersigni
At the beginning of ones yoga journey it can feel like you’ve discovered a panacea that will cure and resolve all your troubles. You devotedly hit the yoga mat and twist and turn your body into shapes you cannot believe you manage to create with your own body. You feel great. Your feel powerful. You feel strong and flexible. You start to feel more aware of yourself. And you look great too. You start to realize the relationship you have had with your self and your body hasn’t been healthy or empowering. You feel yourself standing just a little bit taller than before and people even ask you if you’ve grown. You enjoy going to yoga class and meeting other people doing the same thing- creating a like minded community with people who want to be healthy and feel good. You love breathing together in unison. Yay! Your life has changed forever. Yoga becomes your best friend. The friend you go to when you feel sad or confused. It gives you the space within yourself to temporarily forget that little problem all the while you become more and more acquainted with your physical talents and grace.
You do yoga #everydamnday. You repeat your vinyasa’s and never miss out on an upward facing dog. You are fearless.
Five years later you start to notice that the freedom your body once experienced with yoga has turned into pain. Ouch ‘these knees’, ‘this back’, ‘this neck’- it’s starting to feel… crunchy. That feeling of peace is starting to wear off too. What used to last several hours, only lasts five minutes after savasana. And whoop! You’ve found yourself going back to your old defensive and protective patterns. Even your fellow yogis that you once thought were so spiritually woke and emotionally mature turn out to be just as human and full of flaws as your friends who don’t practice yoga. You have disagreements and conflict with them just as anyone would. You also find yourself getting triggered at your colleagues and your partner just like the next person. Outsiders wonder how you can still have these problems…you practice yoga don’t you ? Aren’t you supposed to be superiorly able to handle your life ? Aren’t you supposed to be …peaceful ?
You start to admit that your yoga practice no longer has the same effect. The union of mind and body has become a body practice but the mind is no longer on board. You can easily still your mind during the practice. But your old samskaras appear once you come back to your daily interactions.
Why is it that this practice that once soothed everything and made you feel so on point in your life has been ripped out from under your feet?
In our modern society our hatha (including vinyasa) yoga practice includes largely a moment of settling into the present moment, maybe a little intention setting, followed by some body movements. There are some warm up’s and sun salutations followed by some standing poses; some warriors, forward folds, some back bends, twists, hip openers- maybe some fancy arm balances and if you are lucky you will get some pranayama and a few minutes of meditation at the end. This was enough at one point to help you to feel more aligned with what you understand to be higher ideals- more calm, more at peace, more patient.
But that feeling has warn off, much like a drug user needs to increase the dosage in order to get the same high. In your search for more peace and calm that has begun to elude you, your practice has become more intense and therefore has caused more wear and tear on your joints and ligaments, yet it ceases to bring you that sweet feeling you once had.
Doing asana practice seldom reaches the deeper layers of consciousness – it may open the door, or at least crack the window open to let in a light breeze, but it hardly has the capacity to create enough of a powerful wind to clear out what is very deeply ingrained in your subconscious. Nor does it have the capacity to help you to face or reframe unresolved trauma. As your self-awareness increases, you become more aware of your self-limiting and self-sabotaging patterns, and the things you might be doing to hold yourself back from healing your old wounds.
Being aware of your struggles & patterns is only the first step. Being observant and staying stuck and locked into those patterns is not very transformational. You can be aware for years of why you are behaving a certain way that you realize is self-limiting, but it often takes more than awareness to flip the switch from knowing to changing, transmuting or transforming.
The modern yoga practiced today is largely physical exercise- it is the root chakra of the chakra system. It governs the physical body. If done with care which might mean #noteverydamnday (and not repeating the same movements over and over) – it can be an incredible tool to keep your physical functions lubricated.
Hatha yoga these days is physical exercise combined with awareness. It starts to help you bring awareness to your mind, your thoughts and even some of your patterns. In this way yoga can also be a transformational tool if combined with other modalities.
Yoga is the very first window you open in a stuffy room- finally what a revelation when you get your first draft of air. Just like when you want to clear out a room more efficiently you would first open the window on the side where the wind direction is facing and then you would open the windows on the opposite side of the room so you can get the air circulating.
So what is the second window?
When you combine yoga with other modalities you can go so much deeper. Yoga combined with other healing modalities can take you deep into the subconscious, into your childhood misperceptions & misunderstandings. Here you can begin to take a mirror to yourself & look at your shadows, dismantle your stories, refine your values, and become responsible and aware of how your emotions effect your state of being. Going from being aware of your emotions to knowing how to elevate your emotions is the difference between awareness and transformational inner work. Yoga has the capacity to open a dialogue with your souls longing- but your average asana class is unlikely to take you there.
As we extract yoga from the other traditions of Ayurveda, Mantra, Meditation, Mudra, Pranayama and having a teacher who mentors you in your life- yoga becomes unable to transform the way it is capable of doing when practiced in it’s completeness.
The modern mind also needs to modify some of the teachings and approaches in order to fully accept and receive them. Combining yoga with other wellbeing practices that are more adapted to a modern, western mind takes us from being aware of our issues- to moving them out of our tissues and to actually begin to re-wire the brain, creating new supportive samskaras.
Yoga is a beautiful first door or window, but for many of us, we need other doors and windows and pathways to create the full magnitude of transformation that is possible.
Radiant Wellness Club is….exactly this a merging of holistic modalities so you can go beyond simply being aware and actually shift the patterns that you are tired of repeating.