THE PSYCHOLOGY OF YOGA

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF YOGA

Yoga and Ayurveda are all about relationship. To self. Other. Environment. Planet. And everything in between, from Matter to Spirit. 

Understanding and working with our wisdom and psyche body leads to healthy relationships. It’s the psychology of Yoga and Ayurveda.

The psychology of Yoga releases limiting beliefs and patterns, making space for generous and autonomous beliefs and values. An accepting and broad perspective without compromising our own views and feelings. Transparency coupled with inclusivity. Accountability. Integrity to the fullest sense of the verb.

Relationships Form Our Beliefs About Ourselves & World

We all desire and deserve healthy, deliberate, conscious and compassionate relationships. To self and other. 

It’s our first and most primal need. 

Moving through our relatedness, naturally experiencing our interconnectedness, is the deepest desire of the expression of duality. All of us seek union. Consciously, or not. At heart all of us are compassionate and caring. Honesty, generosity and autonomy is inherent in every human. Whether we express it depends on our earliest ‘training’ in relationships. What is the experience of being separate and held by another?

Relationships are the first educator of our wisdom and psyche body. Most impressionable from conception till the first 3 years of life. Anything we learn and experience repeatedly with those caring for us, intensely shapes what we believe to be a truth. Our values or conviction? Deeply rooted in psyche as personal experience shared with those we most, or must, trust. 

We understand our experiences by comparing them to other past impressions and from that draw conclusions and understanding of the world around us. A template. Context of what’s ‘normal, right, wrong’. From it we create our wisdom treasure trove. And seeing in our earliest years of life, we can’t give voice, verbalise or express, we internalise. These form our deepest known truths. Our wisdom and values. 

These beliefs colour, filter and light what we accept and reject. Run to or from. Our beliefs about ourselves, relations, intimacy, environment and world. Forming our future.

Emotions & Our Psyche

The intensity of emotions associated with our experiences, affect the depth of our convictions. And tenacity in memory. The earlier the unconscious training, the deeper. Implicit memory. Called Samskaras  in Sanskrit, and inner drives, in psychology. Open Pandora’s box or patterns from preverbal infancy push and pull at us our entire lives. Patterns needed then to adapt to contemporary circumstances were healthy, but most likely not serving us now. 

Honouring our sense of self, our identity and integrity, and we begin to respond instead of react. We feel infantile in these situations first. Then new, young and fresh. Ripe. Capable and connected. Interdependent and autonomous.

Allowing us to be more accepting of self and others. The first doorway, Ahimsa, self-love and self-compassion, leads to self-knowledge and self-care. Accepting our perfect imperfection. Opening the windows and doorways for others be perfectly imperfect too. Spaciousness makes way for our sense of responsibility. And for our need of boundaries. Opening a space for others to do their part in the play of each other’s lives. 

The very first baby steps. 

Problems and differences are no longer personal.[i] Just two people seeing and experiencing in their unique ways. We can accept conflict as part and parcel of life. Compost for growth. And dare to confront people without fear of rejection or abandonment. We separate issues from people.[ii]

The Psychology of Yoga

This is the psychology of Yoga.

With this accepting stance Pandora’s box won’t overwhelm us. So we take these baby steps, again and again, to bolster us. So that when we take a good look at our wisdom body’s perception, emotions, choices, reactions, and eventual actions, we’re forgiving, compassionate and honest. 

Our psyche and wisdom body’s main purpose is integration. To make sense and give place to all events, experiences and expressions in relation to our internal perception, reception and mental digestion. The continual shifting between internal and external world is communicated through our emotional states.[iii] The intimate space where our soul and the material world interact, exchange and co-create energetic changes through emotions. The prime motivators in social species.

It’s the body of wisdom and perception, and often the root cause of dis-ease. Even at the biological level. Experience and belief. It’s the part of us that’s intuitive and receptive. Reactive. Respond-able. Responsible. Integrating this body of lived experience equals wellbeing.  

Understanding our inner drives and uprooting our deepest fears we undo the knots of past impressions. Move into fulfilling, rewarding, delicious relationships. Less running around in circles accusing, arguing, coping, walking away, blaming, shaming. More connection and real relation. Fully present.


[i] Melody Beattie – Beyond Codependency

[ii] Melody Beattie – Beyond Codependency

[iii] Daniel J. Siegel, Interpersonal Neurobiology, 2012, W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.

YOGA TO EMPOWER DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

YOGA TO EMPOWER DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

Yoga to Empower Emotions During Difficult Times

I’ve been on a journey of reclaiming wellbeing since I was young. Passionate about finding answers to pain points for loved ones and understand health on all levels, I was drawn to Yoga, Buddhism, naturopathy and herbalism early on. Seeking foods, plants, practices and philosophies as remedies for issues of body, mind and soul.

I observed, for some obstacles led to opportunities, while for others the opposite. Emotions and mental states were always very intriguing for me.

As yoga teachers our practice is vital to our wellbeing on many levels. But what happens when one, or more, of those levels isn’t transformed by our practice? What if, even after decades of study and practice, we feel lost and have no idea what’s going on? As a yoga therapist, with decades of yoga, mindfulness, meditation practice and continuing education, I hit that point. My emotions were wild, my energy levels unreliable, my mind unclear at best. Outbursts, frustration, fears, doubts, power struggles, relationship issues, feelings of loneliness. Like a blade of grass breaking through concrete, no matter how solid our practice, inevitably emotions begin to break through unseen cracks. If we don’t deal with our unconscious, it’ll deal with us. Breakdown got me facing my shadows. Our shadow work is vital to our Yoga journey. It’s the healing process of reclaiming all we repressed, rejected, neglected and abandoned long ago. Ultimately emotions showed me the limiting unconscious beliefs holding me back in fundamental ways. And so the journey to a fuller wholeness began. Beyond Peace to Breakthroughs Within the dis-ease lies the cure. Feelings and thoughts can’t be divorced. And how we think and feel influences our life and our practice. Yoga and other modalities help us access our relaxation response, calm and restore the nervous system and mind while integrating bodily systems. Bringing integrity, peace and a sense of bliss. But sometimes it’s not all about peace and bliss. Wholeness also includes aspects preferably denied. Getting stuck in seeking bliss isn’t a solution in itself. The wholeness guides us in our daily choices, but its not a state most of us can remain in, let alone lift others up from. Yes, we can show or clear the paths for others, or we walk together. And others show us the way, but without shadow work, it becomes ego world. We’ve got to do the heavy lifting for ourselves first, if we want to do any in the world. And right now we’re all being asked to do that. Switching gears and moving beyond bliss through breakdowns and into breakthrough, allows us to embody consciousness fully. ‘Mastering’ and masking the less glorious aspects of our nature is spiritual bypassing. To unconsciously avoid, deny or resist certain aspects of our selves, lives and the related necessary changes, out of fear, shame, guilt or some other difficult emotion, is ignoring our shadow. Pushed into the unconscious. Yet wherever we go, there it is. Seemingly irrelevant, we override these emotions for years. Or our ego, the ingenious dividing principle, whispers, “We’ve conquered it!” Now think about this; just as strong as your resistance is to that change, that much energy and possibility lies beyond the breakthrough. Sure it asks us to our explore our anger, fears, shame, and our responsibility. To dig deeper and find that motivational force which we all have within, to change our present situation. Which is exactly what emotions are. They’re calls to action. To step up, raise the bar. Our present world situation is asking us to take action in integral, sustainable, collective and proactive ways. We need collaboration to find solutions together. What better time than now. Stepping up to find our strength and empower ourselves, each other and our environment proactively, means a pretty impressive impulse. A push. Emotions are energy in motion. Some very convincing; anger, fear, exhilaration, guilt, have lots of potential behind them. That’s why we struggle, we’re forced to find sustainable solutions.

The Power of Emotions

Apart from ‘positive ones’, emotions aren’t often talked about, freely to expressed or embodied. Yoga, equally powerful, brings about healing and associated ‘positive’ emotions. Popular positive think culture sees happiness as the ultimate goal. Spilling into our Yoga process, we miss the deep transformative potential of breakdowns beyond breakthroughs. Being emotionally illiterate can inadvertently causes feelings of being inherently flawed and broken. Outcast. Can we co-create a world of harmony, honesty and integrity, when certain aspects are left in the dark? Off course not. Beyond feel good are untold overlooked opportunities of growth. Only when we move through our pain, fears, and other ‘negative’ emotions, can the phoenix rise. And fully step into who we came here to truly be. Turning wounds into wisdom, instead of vice versa. And emotions are vital. Guideposts to finding out what any situation calls for from us as individuals part of a social group. Being awake and on a spiritual path means we see everything we can, with clarity. And from that clarity take steps to move ourselves, and our collective family, forward. To do that we need to honestly face our shadows first. We can only handle the shadows of the world, a reflection of our collective shadows, once we manage to hold our own. Reframing Emotions as Life Energy in Motion Emotions, powerful messengers between soul, body and mind, are transient. They have no substance. If we can just contain them long enough to hear their call to action, we can move mountains. They’re that powerful! Why waste their potential for change? There’s inherent intelligence behind each emotion. Energy is Shakti’s deepest desire is to live, thrive, give, fulfil and become. Her moving through us as emotion. It’s a conversation. A message between our inner guidance conversing with the inner guidance of another, both filtered through ego. And the way we experience and express emotions, and their underlying needs, depends on our many filters of past experiences. Memories and perceptions, influenced by family, culture and anything with which we identify. We have thousands of emotions. A vast universe. Imagine allowing yourself the freedom to experience a limitless space of emotions. Instead of pinning it down to a limited few, hear the actual conversation between your soul and the present situation. Use this precious time to see yourself living in the immense possibilities of all visceral sensations. A movement from our beautifully wise, nurturing bodies, nervous system, mind, and limitless self. This time is an opportunity for exactly that. Emotional Literacy, Reframe & Transform Your Emotions into Actions Our mind and body are incredibly malleable. We can rewire our feeling of anxiety into an invitation into newness. Just 5 minutes daily of reframing emotions using feeling your sensations, feelings and holding them with mindful self compassion in meditation, can be powerful when practiced consistently over months. Then we can take these emotions onto the mat, move with them, then take them into the world, as bold statements. With reframing and consistent practice, we begin to experience nervousness in a universe of emotions, instead as a fluttering exhilaration for a fresh, young anticipation to explore. Adventurousness. Nervousness re-examined gives us extra energy and alertness to raise our ability, intelligence and consciousness in a more engaged, creative and curious ways. Feeling anger doesn’t ‘make us angry’. Anger is a powerful, dynamic and concentrated energy. It can be explosive. Explore it’s quality and ability before it’s on the scene in that state. Through consistent mindfulness practice we learn to feel anger in our spacious awareness moving through our body-mind. We befriend our emotions. Slowly learning to channel it into action steps for radical change instead. A new project, plan or activity, or conversation, creating change in relation to what triggered our anger in the first place. And so we explore the universe of emotions, learn their vast language and movement. Emotional literacy. It’s yours and unique. You’re a master of your emotional vocab, no one else. No more shadows, no more projecting your beauty, power and fears onto others. It’s all You. By giving back the full scope of emotional experience through a more nuanced language, we reclaim the potential energy within emotions. Allowing ourselves unlimited expression to experience our feelings, allows energy to move through us, rather than to us. We’re called to action and the universe is waiting for our soul response. Begin to have a deeper conversation with your feelings. Step into your power, feel and see the subconscious speak through subtle pathways as Shakti’s wisdom and Prana moving through you. Let your universe of emotions expand and your shadows dissipate. Let’s have some truly deep, transfromative and real conversations. Leave a comment below and reclaim your voice, wellbeing through self expression. With Love,

Shira.

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE, EXPRESSIVE POWER

Don’t you love it when You get that feeling you’re able to do anything? Not the megalomaniac kind. Just knowing our pure potential and ability to create anything we desire at any given moment. 

Well this is delightful, exhilerating and creative feeling the realm of Space. 

Of the five elements, Space is subtlest and closest to the Unmanifest. Before we move into consciousness, understanding the subtle power of space makes our mind space more accessible.

We’ve gone from solid to subtle in the last 4 months. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space. The five elements make up our world. They’re the substance of soul, mind and body. Different ways Self expresses its infinite possible diversity of existence. 

A balanced space element is when we express ourselves freely and with ease. We’re great listeners and know the art of telling stories. That exhilarating feeling of communicating with clarity and conviction. Our ability to speak our feelings, thoughts, ideas and vision.

Space in our physical body is within ears, tongue, all channels, and the cavities of throat, chest and pelvis.

Space, the element of pure potential and creativity

Sound is subtle and Powerful. Words are powerful. And like space, sound is the subtlest of manifestation. We can’t smell it, Earth, we can’t taste it, Water, or see it, Fire, nor feel it, Air. But we can hear it and feel its vibrations through space and in our body’s channels and cavities.  

And just as the Space element is the most subtle, the organs of space receive and express the subtlest of manifestation best. Think music, song and Mantra, poetry, story and any other medium that conveys our deeper hopes, fears and emotions. Feeling that vibration when something speaks to the very core of our soul. It resonates. It realigns us with our true essence. 

That recognition is space at its finest. Our inspiration and spark for creation comes from the space of possibilities. It’s the bridge between in and out, heart and mind. And because Space is the element of communication, expression, and creativity, we refine it through our throat.

The connecting link between experience and expression of thoughts as well as feelings.

Purpose & Power of Space

Space is the seat of inspiration[i]. Because it’s also the meeting point of subtle and material, it brings balance and purification through interaction and integration of spiritual with physical. 

When our headspace is clear it’s easy to express our visions, dreams, insights, feelings, thoughts, and desires. Articulating these we begin the process of making it real. Through communicating we get feedback from others. This feedback allows us to define, redefine and remix what our real vision and gifts are. We purify our feelings, thoughts and deepest desire, through this constant exchange. We get clarity. And clarity is power. So, the space element is an empowering element to manifesting. 

Our original Shakti; deepest desire and power, can begin to work its magic when Space is clear. Every action, word, thought, and desire of safety, pleasure, and power are initiated by this creative force. An initial wish expressed to come into life as a unique being. It’s ready and waiting for this communication, creation and expression of Self through You.

Space Out of Balance

Ever had the feeling no one listens to you? Or you’re too embarrassed to speak your idea, opinion, or truth, even though you completely disagree with what’s being said? Well this is a deficient space element.

Have you been told you’re a terrible listener, or that you talk too much and never let another speak? Excessive Space.

Between experience, expectation, expression and the resulting exchange, we relate to others a clue about how and if we’re listening, and how, or if, we are being heard. To transform and be empowered, our voice, ears and throat give us very clear feedback. Our voice leads to our creations. In this process, we purify our experience, expression and communication of self. We learn by listening to the actual exchange. 

We also refine our other four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, through our ability to communicate.

Tools to bring back balance to Space

Mantra

Even in the Big Bang theory, sound is the first of any manifestation. The Vedic equivalent of creation theory is the sound AUM, Om. The first sound when we open our mouths, A, it signifies beginning creation. U, which is the continuation of creation. M, the sound that naturally arises when the lips are closed. Teaching starts with Om to honour the creation process. In Greek philosophy Logos, or Word, is the divine principle that permeates the universe. “In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was with God. And the Word was God,” “When there were no depths, I was brought forth,” Genesis, all resound the concept of space, sound, creation and manifestation.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga rebalances our space element because it allows us the time needed to open up gently, and through calm attentive breathing in the opened areas create space without force or coercion.  For example, lying in supine Cobbler pose over a bolster, supported by blocks and blankets, gives our belly, heart, chest and hips the chance to open. Creating space releases tension, energy, and any issues in our tissues.  It allows us to reconnect to areas that are usually closed and unconscious.

The space element provides the denser elements freedom, a gap in time to transform and become, a window in space opening doorways to opportunities. That’s why

Meditation

Imagine there is absolutely Nothing, only unbounded space and stillness. Within there lies a dormant, rich, fullness of all the pure potential of creation. When these infinite potentialities begin to stir, and move, the Air element is breathed into existence. As Air awakens and begins to shift, rouse and initiate with more velocity, it creates heat. The Fire element is inspired into being. Fire’s light and heat separates from the heavy qualities of cold and wet. Giving way to Water. Within the Water, are particles even denser. Compact, solid and unmoving. Here the Earth element is delivered.


[i] David Frawley – Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

PELVIS, PLACE OF PLEASURE, PLAYFULNESS & PROSPERITY

PELVIS, PLACE OF PLEASURE, PLAYFULNESS & PROSPERITY

Do you ever wonder where your pleasure went? Did you know feeling rigid, controlling and critical often has to do with our pelvis? Or that feeling drained, disconnected or never … enough, is equally related to pelvic health. Because our pelvis is our place of pleasure, playfulness and prosperity, it’s integrity is essential.

Because the pelvis is linked to our emotions and our energy, pelvic integrity can amount to our life being fun, fulfilling and easy, or dreary or demanding.

Pelvic integrity is key to enjoying life’s gifts.

That sense of aliveness is born here.

To feel alive, joyous and at ease with whatever comes our way, pelvic integrity is es-sensual.

When our playful, go with the flow nature dries up, guilt, rigidity, disappointment, exhaustion, explosiveness, bitterness or feelings of never good enough, surface.

Each month I create a new sequence that honours the season and our body needs in accordance with that. I do this both to allow students to go deeper and explore a little further an area of the body, the emotions connected to it and the holding patterns we might have here mentally and energetically. And to be very honest and transparent, to prevent me going nuts trying to out do my last class. This month is water and the pelvis.

How Water and the Pelvis are Related to Pleasure & Prosperity

The pelvis, Latin for basin, in French le bassin, holds our joy and contains our pleasure. It’s our reservoir of energy and emotion. Ayurvedically, this area embodies and flows like water, and the ball and socket joint moves like a river. 

Because of our pelvis’ mobility, we dance with joy, shake our hips, move freely in a sensual way with pleasure. If my pelvis is stuck, or I can’t feel it, dancing just isn’t fun, freeing or fulfilling.

Playfulness, our ability to go with the flow, reflects our feelings about our relationship with the world. Do we feel free to have fun, do we always need to control, or do we just let it all go?

Water seeks the easiest course, finding joy and pleasure in whatever arises. It accepts and lets go of the illusion of mastery and control. Willing to see where experiences take us, without holding back or resistance. Water and pelvis are meeting points for inner and outer. 

They’re sensual.

  • Because all life starts in water and the pelvis, it’s symbolic of prosperity, abundance and pure potential
  • Water and pelvis flow like emotions, a constant ebb and flow, give and take, make or break, movement
  • Our pelvis- initiator of movement- connects our upper and lower body, the sensual self with the thinking self, which results in creativity
  • Feeling prosperous is an overflow of the movement between the two banks
  • Our sense of pleasure arises through the contact of inner and outer world, and the infinite possible combinations from these interactions
  • Because our original emotion is bliss, our part in the play, our movement or lack of it, determines the deviations of this original emotion

To flow fully the banks need to be firm and free.

Energetic Holding Patterns of the Pelvis

Excessive stress causes our tissues to tighten unnecessarily. Ease and our ability to flow, physically, energetically and mentally, become blocked. Chronic holding patterns might express themselves as guilt, feeling rigid, controlling, critical, self conscious, or lacking spontaneity and playfulness. The river of abundance, prosperity and possibilities dry up, along with our creative and joyful juices. 

Not enough stressors can leave us with excessive emotions as our energy reserve overflows. Without containment, we may feel overly emotional, watery, let our energy gush from us without discernment and end up feeling drained, lacking, down, lost; our energy and emotions lack direction. 

Our pelvic tissues might have a combination of both holding patterns simultaneously. 

Translated to our energy body, we don’t feel contained and able to respond with integrity to any given situation. Resulting in further controlling or flooding.

Because of unconscious guilt here, and emotions are energy in motion, both holding patterns waste immense, enjoyable energy, and we’re not even aware of it.

But we can learn to contain and live with pleasure 

Our rivers just need some TLC. 

Our golden womb needs to be honoured, heard and felt. 

Pelvic Flow is the Key to Pleasure

Releasing tension and creating integrity of our sense of self in relation to the world, feels like flow, fun, pleasure and prosperity naturally arising like a bubbling spring.

The key to pelvic health is movement. Like water, the pelvis loves to flow and move. To play out the constant ebb and flow, give and take. This ensures and allows us to contain our sense of delight and joy. It enlivens our abundance.

As babies, this free abode of joy and delight is with what we began to crawl. We use our pelvis to propel us forward and move into the world. This exploration of feeling for ourselves creates pleasure. 

When my toddler first picked up little pebbles in her chubby sensitive hands, there was sheer joy, wonder and excitement all wrapped into one. This is essence of water. It’s all emotions rushing from and back into bliss. 

This endeavour to sense the world also created our lumbar curve. Our ability to relate, connect and withdraw. And our first impressions of sensual experiences, plus the arising emotions, are all contained here. 

Create Pelvic Integrity to Enjoy Life More

To create pelvic integrity and enjoy life fully we need to get to know this area. We need to move past our guilt,  build body awareness, self acceptance, and begin to strengthen and relax this area, until all the tissues and energy rivers flow free and firm. 

You need to feel what holding patterns you have.

Are some muscles really tight and resist letting go?

Maybe you don’t contain but let it gush out, leaving you empty? 

After you feel if you hold or release excessively, you can build back the integrity of this area by doing strengthening, movement that warms up this area, and slow soft, stretching to open and release the tissues. 

Create firm freedom.

A sure way to ensure feeling prosperous and playful is being present with sensations, feeling this area’s ability to create another life, and all that being will co-create and experience through Her projects, ideas and senses. The potential combinations of the inner and outer world coming together in countless ways. The pure potential alive here.

It’s time we enjoyed what is instead of thinking what isn’t. It’s time to drop our uncertainty and walk into the world with a sense of certain fulfilment, pleasure and delight.

Joyous and prosperous in each moment, as water moves, content and playful. Our golden womb contains the feeling ‘I’m good enough’ and ‘there’s more than enough for all of us’ out there, and more importantly, in here, all the time.

Much Love,

Shira.