Yoga - Body As A Barometer
by Shameem Akthar
A seasoned practitioner of yoga receives a stream of information from the body which enables her to live according to its needs
A yoga practitioner can become fussy enough about personal habits to get on the nerves of most people. A serious practitioner not only believes in disciplined sadhana but also other habits that complement it, such as food timings, the amount consumed, and sleep timings. This happens because a disciplined sadhana sensitises the person to the body, and thereby to the mind’s vagaries.
It is impossible to be lackadaisical about one’s life with that sort of sensitivity ringing in a stream of information into one’s antennae. Things that most others regard as difficult or excessively disciplined, becomes for a practitioner, simple, natural and automatic. For instance, eating late would show up during the plough position, making it tougher for you to drop your leg behind your head. Late eating, non-vegetarian food, excessive consumption, ill-advised refined food or any sort of unhealthy food (including overdose of sugar, snacks) affects flexibility enormously. Similarly, if the mind is distracted or if you are anxious or angry, breath retention will be difficult, clearly indicating the mind’s dissonance. Even exhalation, often more difficult to sustain or manage than breath retention, will be hit as your breath loses its rhythm at the behest of your mind. The length of your bhramari or humming bee could be a great indicator of this sort of mental distraction.
A late night jars the body’s sensitive biological clock, so that you are also likely to find that the joints remember past aches with more sensitivity. That the mind is still gathering its wits around, becomes clear when you try balancers, which can set you wobbling – late nights seem to tamper with the body’s cerebellum, involved with the body’s proprioception or sense of balance. An excessive consumption of addictive caffeine can even ruin your meditation-relaxation – caffeine lovers can be restive in the corpse pose indicating that the mind, involved with the runaround set off by these caffeinated drinks, is unable to let the body relax. You can safely presume that this will affect healing somehow.
Louise L Hay, the intuitive healer and author of several best-sellers on mind-body links, writes of her own take on such connections where the body may be used as a barometer to the mind. In her book, You Can Heal Your Life, she provides great insight into how you can use your body’s ills to find out what ails your mind. Some examples that should arouse your curiosity and possibly win your concurrence – backache could indicate a sense of lack of support in life; knee pain could indicate a stoppage to progress in life; diabetes could indicate the despairing sense of lack of sweetness in one’s life. Some of these connections may come as unpleasant surprises. It is distressing to imagine that it is not our body which is letting us down; rather it is our mind, in certain cases. It is distressing because then the onus of getting our life in order falls right back on to us. However, for those who wish to be freed from such trappings, yoga, in that sense, can be a truly powerful tool, which can first sensitise us to this connection. Then, it helps remove this dissonance between two parts of ourselves, which seem to have stopped talking to each other.
Meruwakrasana (Spinal twist):
Sit with your feet as wide apart as is comfortable. Ensure knees are not bent and that the legs are flat. Hold hands at shoulder level. Inhale. Exhale, twist to right, touching left hand
to right foot. Look back at right hand held behind body. Inhale, return to centre. Exhale, twist to left side, right hand to touch left foot, and looking back at left hand. Inhale, to return to centre. This is one round. Repeat
up to five rounds.
Gives a powerful twist to the spine. Harmonises both brain hemispheres. A good way to prepare for advanced asanas. Limbs become super-toned.
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