Yoga and The Physical Body

18 May 2017

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GUEST POST: DONNA JORDAN

Author’s note: This is the first part of a four-part series. The first article looks at the physical body and what our bodies are telling us and what they mean to us. The second looks at our mind and all our reactions, both mentally and emotionally. The third part looks at our spirit and spirituality and how we can become more aware. The last part goes beyond, to our soul’s evolution. I hope these articles make us question why we are here and what we are here to do. My hope is for all of us to question and not take things at face value, because the more we question, the more we evolve.

The Physical Body

Yogi’s tell us the physical body is the vehicle to our experience. What does that mean to us? In short, we incarnated onto Bhu Loka (the earthly plane) to play out our Karma, to lessen samskaras and to hopefully evolve. Evolution of this sort requires us journeying back to the source, back to and emerging with universal consciousness. It is believed that before birth and with the power of our consciousness we created our bodies. We designed these bodies for the experiences we would have in this lifetime. Some of us are born with genetic defects, some are predisposed toward being overweight, some underweight. Some tall, some short. Some are only designed to last a short time and some last into the 90’s and beyond. Everything pre-determined, all agreed to by you. So importantly, what does this mean to us? Simply, we have to do the best we can with what we have been given.

It is interesting to contemplate what this means to us. I am sitting here writing this article in a space that is unfamiliar to me. I am recovering from sudden but not too unexpected surgery. I have been very lucky throughout my life to have no major health issues, so this healing space has me contemplating the physical body in a way I have never contemplated it before. The most extraordinary experience has been my bodies response to stress. I have always been under the impression that I handle stress reasonably well. What I wasn’t aware of was what my subconscious mind was telling me through my body. Without any awareness on my conscious behalf, my body was having a stress response to the upcoming surgery. My blood pressure had risen and my heart had suddenly developed an arrhythmia. I was blaming the medication when really it was my subconscious mind’s reaction. Where did this come from and how many other times had this happened and what else was happening inside my body that I was not aware of?My conscious mind was actually in a positive space knowing that the surgery would be good and I could get on with my life in a positive way. In reality, my subconscious was in turmoil, its focus would have been on what it was responsible for, the physical body.

I understood with clarity; we really don’t know what is going on inside us. The Bhagavad Gita tells us to be the knower of the field and in reality, we have no idea about our field and most things that drive it or indeed what is going on in it. Our subconscious mind is in charge and we are merely its subject. Was this stress response coming from a place of fear in my subconscious mind? Did I have surgery in a past life that was a negative experience? Did I have this medical issue in a past life that had disastrous results or was it my conditioning that had caused this fear reaction? My sub-conscious mind wanted me to act, it gave me the clues in the only way it could, by sending signals through the body. Unfortunately, I had no idea what was going on. How many other times have I had this reaction and blamed something else on the symptoms? It always comes back to the question. How well do you know your body both physically and energetically? Your body is giving you clues as to what’s going, we just don’t listen. When was the last time you listened to the messages your subconscious is sending you? When was the last time you did something because your body gave you a message or have you just got caught up in a media and social media frenzy, convincing yourself it’s what you need?

This is very relevant in the Yoga world. If I contemplate Yoga and the messages that are out there at the moment I find so much conflicting talk. One thing I do know is Yoga is not just Asana’s and quite frankly any Yoga teacher that sends this message does not know the essence of Yoga at all. A Yoga class is a perfect time to go within and find the inner peace of truly connecting with yourself. It is not a time to connect with the Manas (the chatty mind) reminding you how hot you are, how inflexible you are, how you are not as good as the person next to you and how tired you are. This is a self-defeating state. Yoga gives you the skills to stop listening to the chatty mind and take control. Yoga is not all about building muscle. It is about balance, having the time to connect with the inner you. A time to embrace your journey with this vehicle that is the body. What you do and how you think while you are on your Yoga mat is a direct reflection of how you think and what you do in your life. Check yourself next time you take a class. What are you thinking and doing? It could be very enlightening for you.

When we look at our physical selves from a holistic perspective we can see that there is more to our physical self than just our anatomy and physiology. We have an energetic physiology as well. We have a chakra system and meridian system. We have nadi’s and kosa’s (kosha). This energetic system is part of our physical body, as most of it disintegrates on death. This energetic system has to be kept balanced, cleansed, cleared and strong for us to lead a healthy lifestyle, so we need to remember this when deciding what activities and diet would be best suit us.

Our chakra system lets us know when it is unbalanced as we exhibit physical and emotional turmoil. The Manipura for example, when it is out of balance it will exhibit many clues, an example; digestive problems and eating disorders. Yoga poses can bring back the fire to the digestive system or douse it a little depending on what is needed. Imagine if you had chakra imbalance and had too much fire in your Manipura chakra and you went to a yoga class that devoted 75 minutes to asana’s. How damaging to that already damaged chakra. Would we then look at our digestive issues from this aspect or would we turn to medication to solve the problem?

It always amuses me to see how much time we devote to doing things that are not right for us, versus how much time we devote to doing what is right for us. Sit quietly for a few minutes and contemplate what you do for your physical self and ask yourself these questions;

  • Is what I am doing good for me?
  • Am I doing too much?
  • Am I listening to my body?
  • Am I doing this because my body needs it or am I doing it because others have said I should?
  • Do I make time to go within and really get to know my physical self?

Healthy is what is healthy for you, not what someone tells you it is. Empowerment comes from listening to you and doing what is right for you. Give yourself this gift. Make time to sit quietly (that means on your own, yes without your phone) and go within. It will take some practice but it will be worth the effort. Then you will be armed with the knowledge of what is right for you. The knowledge of your field.

Bhagavad Gita: Ch 13 text 1.2

Arjuna said: O my dear Krsna, I wish to know about prakriti (nature), Purusa (the enjoyer), and the field and the knower of the field, and of knowledge and the end of knowledge. The blessed Lord then said: This body, O son of Kunti, is called the field, and one who knows this body is called the knower of the field.


 

About Donna Jordan:

“Yoga found me in 1994 and subsequently I became a qualified Yoga Teacher in 1999. I since have devoted my life to Yoga and its many and varied teachings. I studied under a Guru for 16 years and gained extensive knowledge in all facets of Yoga both physically and spiritually. I now write articles for local newspapers and conduct retreats in both Bali and Wandin Vic. I am a Senior Level 3 Teacher with Yoga Australia and run a 12-month Diploma of Yoga Teaching. I also have qualifications in NLP, Massage, Hypnotherapy, Astrology and Tarot reading. My passion apart from learning is to teach and empower people from all different backgrounds to find their Body, Mind and Spirit connection.”

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