Love for and fascination with movement, alignment, and the body has only deepened since beginning this dance with the Pilates reformer. Alignment based yoga is not (as commonly thought) a static practice. A common thread running through both alignment based yoga and Pilates is the pursuit and practice of finding the most agreeable relationship between parts of the body and infusing those biomechanics with expanded breath or Prana. Alignment is the clear unobstructed flow of Prana through the body. Alignment in asana (yoga poses) becomes more refined and intuitive with study and practice. The same is true in Pilates practice. Alignment based movement practices can literally enhance the intuitive intelligence of the body’s systems as well as clear the inner-body energetic pathways for a heightened sense of comfort in embodiment. Over time an alignment based practice moves from physical to subtle-body awareness. This introduction of feeling and sensibility to technique evolves into art.
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Even in the midst of a world weary with heavy and depressing events, I still, everyday, aim to live as fully present and awake as possible. On occasion it comes easily. Most days I rely on practices of meditation and mindful movement to illuminate the path that reawakens me to the realities of joy, love, and bliss.
Today is the 199th birthday of Henry David Thoreau. His timeless wisdom on what it means to be fully awake…
We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.
“A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a Yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is still for the practice of yoga, the Yogi by the grace of the spirit within himself finds fulfillment. Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves not therefrom. He has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this. He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of yoga – deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” ~BKS Iyengar
“I would say that the thrust of my life has been initially about getting free, and then realizing that my freedom is not independent of everybody else. Then I am arriving at that circle where one works on oneself as a gift to other people so that one doesn’t create more suffering. I help people as a work on myself and I work on myself to help people.”
Abhyasa: continuous endeavor; constant practice; repetition; exercise; exertion (from A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy; Sanskrit Terms Defined in English)
“And so I practice without knowing how it will all turn out. Clearly, along with clarity and faith, my commitment requires some will and effort. As Patanjali says in verse 14, establishing a firm foundation in practice requires sustained exertion over time. Commitment to practicing means I practice if it is easy for me, and I practice if it is hard for me. If I am bored, I practice; if I am enthusiastic, I practice; if I am at home, I practice; if I am on vacation, I practice. There is a saying in Buddhism: If it is hot, be a hot Buddha. If it is cold, be a cold Buddha. This is the consistency and determination in practice that Patanjali means when he speaks of abhyasa. In the beginning, this sustained exertion may be an act of will, an act of ego. But as we continue, the practice itself creates a momentum that propels us through the difficult moments of fear and boredom.”
-From Yoga Journal article, Hot Buddha Cold Buddha by Judith Hanson Lasater
Being able to stop and be aware of the present moment is part of the definition of happiness. It is not possible to be happy in the future. This is not a matter of belief; this is a matter of experience.