I am often asked how EmbodiYoga® is different from other approaches to yoga.
This blog series seeks to begin a conversation to not only answer this question, but to also change the nature of it from want is the difference to what is the experience of EmbodiYoga?
How does it enrich, elevate, and deepen my relationship with self, with other, with everything around me? What, exactly, is an intentional relationship with yoga's practices?
Yoga infused with Body Mind Centering is an inspired pathway, bringing a conscious conversation of embodiment to all yoga practices. As one of the 8 Limbs of Raja Yoga, asana is a practice of finding and embodying steadiness (stirtha) and ease (sukham), not only when we do yoga, but when we are living our lives in real time.
When you have suka and stirtha in the body, freedom and joy are in the mind. A practice of ease and steadiness is the ground of being yogins seek for consciousness living, and a foundational principle of EmbodiYoga.
EmbodiYoga is an exploration and practice of informed options. Below are experiences of EmbodiYoga from Cincinnati students of Lisa Clark, the founder of EmbodiYoga®:
Suspended, not Manipulated:
"I personally love the Organ toning & balancing positions of Makrasana (crocodile pose), both sides and supine, and can't resist doing it daily. I notice in Makrasana with time and allowing a seeping into the earth, a real settling of bones. When I feel & allow the small intestines to bond with gravity there the pubis settles. When I tuned into the colon the low back can spread out. Side lying with focus in those same organs allows settling and shifting and feels relaxed yet stable, the organs do feel supple and strong not rigid, rigidity causes collapse. This is a wonderfully supported kind of feeling different from muscular action.
Bridge pose with a focus on the movement of heart with inhale and exhale is profoundly smooth and relaxed. I love letting the pelvis be like a balloon image with the spine/VC as a balloon string. As the buoyant pelvis floats up the string peels away from ground so evenly! At the top I can rest and breathe into the back of heart and lungs and it feels so light there, not congesting to those organs. Coming down I again focused on the spine as a string of a balloon sinking down into the earth and gradually touching the pelvis down as if the balloon gradually leaked air. The whole thing is so much more suspended than manipulated.
When I cued this with some of my classes there was a much more focused energy in the room, a peacefulness and NO sudden drop outs from hamstring cramps which is often the case with my seniors-- they were much less grippy in the pose. Wonderful.
Again in my own practice from prone to child's to table to down dog- the yielding with my hands and buoyancy of my pelvis, heart and lungs makes it all more ease full but I was especially struck when coming back down that attention in the back of heart and lungs literally floated me down so softly for a nice light landing.
I have hope that I can continue to teach yoga and practice myself in a sustainable way. That I won't die of boredom, that I can go deeper with less effort and these are practices that foster exactly that.
I can hardly wait til January!
Gems of EmbodiYoga: Gravity, Tone, Spiraling, and Sandbag Practices
I've been pondering many of the gems of wisdom from Lisa's workshop and EmbodiYoga concepts I've been studying. I've been using my own practice as the laboratory for learning and then translating to my teaching as some of the internalized concepts are ready to emerge from my experience. I don't have my thoughts organized in a beautifully written format, but more stream of consciousness here. Maybe you will find some of this useful.
Relationship to Gravity: What bubbled up in this discussion is and exploration of orienting from the anti-gravitational force field first. Rather than think as gravity first as a force from above and connecting to anti gravitational force as opposing forces-meeting somewhere in the middle- I played in my practice and teaching as if I were feeling the anti-gravitational pull upwards first and meeting gravity as a way to float with my feet on the earth. The "center of gravity" is a lightness being while connected to the earth.
Tone: I think tone is the perfect word to encourage students to find equanimity in their practice. I usually considered "tone" as a way to find the appropriate amount of effort and ease in an action (voice, physical, mental) The concept of high tone and low tone, especially as a "readiness to respond" concept made me think even deeper about the relationship to muscle, organ and even celluar "tone". I love it as a way to look at the SNS*/PNS* relationship in the physical body rather than using the breath body as our viewpoint. LOVE THIS GEM!
Sandbag Analogy: Somewhere along the way the analogy of organs as sandbags crept into my practice. I don't have notes about this, but in my own practice I started moving at first just the torso as if it were a sandbag and how the contents spill one direction so fluidly. I then began to orient from individual "regions" of the body and then more specifically to organs. The organic movement and feeling of the body organizing as if grain by grain (cell by cell) as I moved in all directions to be held by the "container" of the body or body part of my inquiry. The muscular and skeletal body aligned so comfortably from moving in this way. I also got curious about the counter point of reference to the anti gravity exploration.
and then I began ...
Spiraling: Thinking of each movement (mental, physical and spiritual) emanating as a spiral made me more curious about the point of orientation of a spiral. Still playing with this one.
These are but a few of the many musings I've had since participating in the workshop with Lisa. Remembering my experience with Bonnie last year also made me appreciate the depth of Bonnie's work and Lisa's translation and creation of the concepts into yogic language and learning.
Namaste' dear one,
*SNS/PNS are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The next blog, Fragmentation to Integration: EmbodiYoga Language Pathways, is coming soon!
There are many opportunities to experience EmbodiYoga. See www.redlotusasara.com for a schedule of asana classes, upcoming workshops, and the 2017 EmbodiYoga Yoga and Somatic Immersions/200hr and 300hr Teacher Trainings. Check back often for updates.
May this work be to the benefit of all beings everywhere. Namaste
contact the author, Becky Morrissey @ firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!