It was 7:30 am on the sugar sand beaches of Destin, FL.
I wiped the sand off my feet as I stepped on my mat for rounds of Surya Namaskar.
As I moved through my asana practice, resonant breath keeping me rooted and undistracted from the neighbor’s soft morning conversation, I noticed with delight that I was surprisingly flexible despite the early morning hour. This evolved into a moving meditation on the ethical foundations of yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas. I remembered the teaching passed through Rose Erin Vaughan during my Advanced Training. The Yamas and Niyamas, yoga’s Ten Commandments, are the DIRECT method to enlightenment. The INDIRECT ways are what we commonly think of as yoga: asana, pranayama, meditation.
Think about the last time you took a wonderful asana class. Didn’t you feel calmer and nicer afterwards? More patient? More insightful?
But it only lasts for a little while.
I know I have noticed this!
The indirect methods correct the flow of energy through your body, allowing you to rest in the heart. Then the old patterns of your daily life reassert themselves, and we perhaps find ourselves right back in our stress, our anger, our “me first” attitude.
Now think about what it FEELS like in your body to be angry.
...to be anxious.
...to be kind (practising ahimsa, meaning non-violence, the first of the Yamas) or content (santosha, meaning contentment, the second of the Niyamas).
Based on this felt sense, which of these mental states and behavioral dispositions would you guess supports having a healthy, mobile, free body?
The kindness and contentment, of course!
To me, anger feels like all my energy shoots upward from my lower body and into my eyes (this is the liver meridian’s pathway.) I lose rootedness. Anxiety feels like a shutting down, like my powerful river of prana turns into a trickle and goes underground.
When I’m performing an act of kindness, when I choose to do something for the betterment of other beings and our planet, my energy just explodes. My eyes get bright and my heartbeat feels strong. This is the pericardium, or heart protector, releasing tension so that the natural joy of the heart can be experienced. I feel a greater connection towards myself and others.
Imagine if every kind thought, every benevolent action towards another being had the effect of a good yoga pose. One that releases your tension and helps you to feel present and connected. Because that is exactly how your thoughts and behavior actually affect your body! Click here for a free Loving Kindness Meditation that invites you to experience this.