Over the weekend, I taught a class at the Sydney Buddhist Centre in Newtown. The class theme was Force vs Feeling. Normally, I choose a theme that is focused on a particular body part or chakra, but in my personal practice I’ve been focusing on how to set the ego aside (force), and embrace the feelings my body experiences, and I wanted to share that with my students.
Forcing ourselves to do something we may or may not want to do happens on and off the Yoga mat. Since childhood, most of us have been forced to act a certain way, look a certain way and achieve milestones that society has put in place for us. We get so wrapped up in meeting expectations as quickly as possible that we often forget to sit back and enjoy the ride so to speak.
In a Yoga class, it’s very easy to compare ourselves to others in the room as we see those with ‘perfect’ headstands, splits that are practically inverted and people who can wrap their limbs in so many binds we wonder if they’re actually contortionists in a circus act. We make comparisons and end up forcing our bodies into positions they aren’t ready for causing discomfort, strained muscles and sometimes serious injuries.
Force is driven by the ego, think of it as the Yang principle in the Chinese Yin Yang philosophy. Yang represents power and movement whereas the Yin principle represents reflection and restive energy. The Yin is what we feel.
During the Yoga class I taught last weekend I wanted my students to leave the ego at the door, and use the hour to tune into the body and feel the postures (asanas) and the sensations that occur in the body. Since the majority of the students were beginners, I purposely included postures that I knew most students wouldn’t be able to realise to its fullest extension. In addition, I offered poses that I’m not capable of at the time because of my shoulder injury. Hopefully, by seeing my limitations as well as offering modifications, the students were exposed to some new postures, took some time to feel their bodies in new positions and learned that in Yoga, the power of Yin philosophy and reflecting on physical and emotional feelings has its benefits.
Are there particular postures you find tempting to force yourself into? Feel free to share your thoughts below.