Flow w/Fred – 8.21.14 (YFD – The Breath as Metaphor)

I originally started teaching at Yoga Mindset on Thursday nights.  My original vision for the class was to focus on how Yoga can help with depression.  It affects all of us in some way.  If it doesn’t affect you directly, then someone in your life is dealing with it.  Your words and actions have such a profound impact on those you encounter.  We will never what the ripples our words and actions will have on the world around us.  So why not breathe?  Why not breathe as deeply as you possibly can?

As a baby, infant, child … our breathing is so deep and full.  We want to take in the world around us.  We want to survive.  We want to experience.  We want to live each moment to its fullest possible extent.  So why is life so damn hard now?  I truly believe it is because we have forgotten how to breathe.  I easily forget to breathe with my full body.  I instead feel that I have nothing to give the world around me and it ultimately leads me to take sips at this earth.  We all battle with these frustrating thoughts.  So I grasp on to the moment and take a deep breath.  Do I have any idea what it brings with it … nope.  But I exhale and continue to move forward in that moment.  

So how do you breathe?  Are you gasping for air and hoping you won’t disturb this earth because you don’t feel deserving? Take a deep breath and realize that in the moment … you deserve it.  I am allowed to experience decay, fear, sadness, anger and all of other possible emotional states.  But I’m not going to let them keep me from taking a deep breath and remembering that in this moment … I am alive.

The Breath as Metaphor

When we were born, we breathed with our entire bodies.  Each breath was like a wave that brought a wake of movement along the spine, down to the tailbone.  But as we grew older, fear, sadness, anger and other emotional states changed the way we breathed.  We began to restrict the breath in response to the darker emotions, and little by little we forgot the most natural way to breathe.  Our respiratory system continued to function mechanically, drawing in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide from the constricted arena of our lungs.  But as our capacity to breathe fully diminished, so did our ability to experience the enthusiasms and joys of childhood.

The way in which you breathe is a metaphor for the way in which you are living your life.  Are you taking little sips of breath as though you don’t have permission to take up much space on the planet?

Learning to control your breath won’t solve all your problems, but it can help you cope with them better.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab

Flow w/Fred – 7.31.14 (YFD – Language)

Words leave such a lasting impression.  In a rush to make sure that everyone is safe physically through alignment and positioning, I love being reminded that the words spoken during a Yoga class are so significant.  As an instructor, I often never know what my words mean or do for someone in that moment.  On the occasions where I do get feedback from a student, it is hugely appreciated.  I am pretty confident on how to take people safely through poses, but find myself much more focused on the transformational language and meditation scripts.  I believe that both are equally important.  When I am guiding a class, I know that some folks are needing the physical benefits while others are allowing my words to aid their mind.  I will admit that it is beautiful to watch these two play out during a class.  There is a natural beauty in watching someone connect physically or emotionally in the present moment during a class.  

“Some teachers talk about the physical body in a Yoga class – the placement of the feet, the alignment of the spine, and so on.  That may suit you fine, and as long as you are breathing consciously and the sequence of poses is complete with forward and back bends, side stretches, twists, and inversions, you will begin to feel better.  But your recovery may be hastened by language in your Yoga class that speaks to the unconscious.  Many teachers feel that the language used in class can have a direct effect on their students’ experience of releasing and going deeper in a pose.

Metaphors can speak directly to the physical and emotional bodies, circumventing the analytical mind.  What would it be like to ease into a posture and, as international Yoga teacher Angela Farmer describes, to slither like a serpent, letting the inner body – the belly, the kidneys, the vital organs – initiate the movement?  Or as Farmer’s partner, Victor Van Kooten, says, to “move like a snail emerging from its shell, carrying the outer body along”?  Julia Mines, a Kripalu Yoga teacher, watches her students’ response to her language while they are holding a posture.  “I observed that as students lengthened or twisted to ‘this body is a good one, this body is worthy of your love,’ they responded the way a flower turns toward the sunlight for sustenance.”  These instructors and others believe that visual metaphors transcend the conscious mind and speak directly to the body.

I open my heart to explore the divinity inherent within my body,

I recognize that my body is the temple of the divine,

and I am not just this body but the embodied spirit itself.

During this sadhana time, my intention is to be present

in my body and in the light of consciousness.

Your body, mind and spirit will come into balance through the everyday practice of Yoga, including pranayama breathing and meditation, and your depression will lift.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintrab