Yoga and being – in Control
How much is yoga about being in control?
Physical or Somatic yoga in the beginning is largely about control. It is finding the capacity to activate and release muscle groups and find control in movement. It is also about feeling, finding awareness in all the structures of the body. Feeling and sensation are the ways intelligence moves in the flesh. To find this awareness we often utilise and cultivate control as the first step.
At this level of practice control simply means switching muscle groups on, switching them off and feeling the difference. Though simple, this can be profoundly difficult if those muscles have been locked in unconscious patterns of tightness and limited movement.
I ask my students to activate their external intercostals devoid of an inbreath in one practice. There is no way that they will ever have done that since activation of the external intercostals (muscles between the ribs, the secondary muscle of active inhalation) will only ever have occurred on an active inbreath. What most students find is a blank, void feeling like they cannot even locate those muscles. Gradually after a substantial enough period of practice they start to feel some movement. After a goodly period of daily practice they get some control over those muscles and can consciously switch them on.
So yes, to a huge degree good yoga practice is about control, at least in the beginning. This capacity to control is held in balance by the capacity to feel. Yoga that pushes and ignores feeling and awareness is out of balance.
Once we can feel a muscle switch on and also feel it relax we have a distinction between active and released. We can start to measure how released as well. This gives us an internal map of unconscious muscle holding. We start to have the capacity to see-feel the patterns of our own stress response and postural patterns at a somatic level.
Muscular stress patterns are the physical response to feeling separate from the rest of the cosmos. The first level of waking up is systemic, realising we are not separate from any of the ecological or cosmic web of life, we are also it. Relaxing into this is courtesy of the capacity to know whether unconscious patterns of feeling separate are occurring or not.
What the capacity to control has given us is the capacity to fully and consciously relax into space-time as space-time. We experience complete unicity at a systemic level. This is the first level of yogic realisation. It is not a fantasy, it is an authentic and directly experienced event that occurs at a body-based visceral level.
If you’re interested in developing an intelligent breath rich yoga practice, please feel free to reach out to me.
In the beginning yogic practice that works with the mind is very much about control. We are learning to harness and control our attention.
Most people struggle with the relentless nature of wandering mind. Like a monkey it jumps around from one topic to the next. Like a puppy dog it chews up your favourite projects and wees in the corners of your life. Like a primitive monster it acts out unresolved emotional nightmares and shreds your relationships. Like a barbarian lurking in the minds caverns, it comes out and murders all those you love and all those who disagree with you. No wonder patriarchal religious tomes say it is okay to kill people who believe differently, it’s how untrained minds think.
Control and training of the mind starts with cultivating witness consciousness, the capacity to fully see everything going on inside you. As you get good at this, over years of practice, you get to see the direct relationships between muscular and organ patterns, body sensations, emotions, feelings and thought patterns. To be able to see first requires you to harness the witness power, to build the witness muscle.
The beginning and the middle of mental and emotional freedom is control and training of the mind.
The next level is to drop the control and transcend the witness. As Katagiri Roshi said, “The witness is the last stand of the ego”. So eventually too this has to be resolved. But first lets learn focus.
I teach what I call BioHack meditation, This is rooted in the explanations of biology, psychology and ecology whilst utilising what is powerful from the traditions of yoga, meditation and mindfulness.
My interest is helping you be awesome.
Why? Because I want to live on a planet full of mutually empowered people. It’s so much more fun. A planet full of people whose minds are operating on feudal operating systems of victim, oppressor and rescuer is disempowering and tedious. Don’t you think?
If you haven’t got an accelerated BioHack meditation practice, please feel free to reach out to me.
Most of us have already learnt patterns of control of our emotions. Many of these will be gender based. Men are allowed and almost expected to be angry. That is their one permissible emotion. After all boys don’t cry. Women are not allowed to be angry, that is taboo, but are expected to be emotional in every other way. Women are not supposed to have a fully embodied ‘NO’. After all, our culture teaches compliance for women.
Control in emotional yoga comes through being out of control. When an emotion plays into consciousness, we allow it. We simply sit with the rising emotion. To sit with it means we don’t try to reduce it, enlarge it, suppress it, repress it or do any of our usual culturally sanctioned control strategies.
Sitting with the emotion means we also don’t act it out. Once we have witnessed ourselves act emotions out, splurge them out into our lives and inflict them on people around us enough times, we get that this causes suffering. Once we stop blaming others for ‘causing’ our emotions – they did this to me, we say, we have to start taking responsibility. Once we stop blaming and start taking responsibility, and once we choose to stop acting emotions out, we have to sit with them.
When we can sit with them and befriend them, we see them rise, enlarge, sustain, diminish, disappear and dissolve back into emptiness.
When we can be with the flow of an emotion in this complete way we have the beginnings of emotional freedom. We are in control without having to control anything. we just cease to identify with the arising emotion.
So emotional freedom begins with undoing conditioned control and then finding freedom through the choice of befriending. Befriending means we sit with them, appreciate them, understand them and no longer let them control us.
How does your life-energy flow?
What is the relationship between mind and life-energy?
What is the relationship between breath and life-energy?
What is the relationship between sexual energy and life-energy?
These are key questions in yogic practice. Key inquiries for you to come to a direct understanding of these relationships.
Direct understanding of these relationships liberates life-energy and allows you vast supplies of energy to apply in ways that you choose.
Is this control or is it liberation?
What is the relationship between control and freedom, between discipline and freedom?
Arguably without discipline there is no real freedom?
Humans have been trying to control the planet and nature certainly since the advent of nature hating patriarchal religion and certainly since the beginning of science.
Since we have ,managed to interfere with and degrade most of the ecological niches on the planet we are left with key questions.
The main level of control that is needed is to control our own behaviour. Control how we interface and degrade wild nature.
We have to control how we produce and use energy since fossil fuel use is the key factor causing climate change (according to all the science).
We have to control and limit our use of resources.
We have to control and limit how we dump our wastes into ecological niches such as plastics in the ocean.
With regard to ecology it is not how wee control ecology so much as how we control ourselves.
What to do?
Let’s live on a planet full of empowered, vital people reaching their potential. Much more fun! Much more powerful than a planet full of victims, oppressors and rescuers. So…
Let’s start to take responsibility. Give priority to our yogic discipline.
Do these seven things daily… yes, just seven things.
1) Do your kriyas and breath-work (I will teach you if you don’t know them).
2) Eat a moderate diet with intermittent fasting. Happy to show you how to do this.
3) Practice at least 20 minutes of BioHack meditation each day. Happily teach you.
4) Resolve the shadow emotions and stories of fear, shame, blame and guilt. Come do this with me on retreat if you need.
5) Do a sound relaxation practice before sleeping. Easy to learn the art of relaxing into space-time.
6) Practice your intelligent, body based discipline of breath and awareness rich, power focused, somatic yoga. Our teaching team do this really really well too.
7) Practice gratitude and do everything in your power to care for our planetary home.
End result, you will rejuvenate, feel sexier, younger, and have vast amounts of energy. Not only that, you’ll be changing the world for the better with your creative energy and having a fun filled life.