Affirmation of the Month:
"I am one with Life, and all of Life loves me and supports me. Therefore, I claim for myself perfect, vibrant health at all times. My body knows how to be healthy, and I cooperate by feeding it healthy foods and beverages, and exercising in ways that are enjoyable to me... and I move through life healthy, happy, and whole."
- Louise L. Hay, from Experience Your Good Now!
Jeffrey Goldberg’s Practice Tip: Set Your Intention!
Last month, we completed our study of the bandhas in yoga practice with Ajnabandha (Spiritual Eye Lock) and Drishti (Eye Gaze). Bandhas are tools for directing and taking control over your own subtle energy. They work to solidify your intention and to concentrate upon it knowing the advice of the great Yoga Masters that “energy follows intention.”
This month we will discuss the subject of how to get control of your thoughts. This is done by setting your intention for your practice and using affirmations during yoga practice.
This is an introductory method of the yoga practice of “samyama” which is an advanced set of techniques to discover our own inner divinity and to allow it to express itself in our outer lives. Our inner divinity can only be accessed by quieting the thoughts of our minds into silence. For our purposes, we will refer to our inner divinity as the “inner silence.”
Our journey this month will be easy and simple as this is only an introductory method. If you practice this for a bit, you may become interested in more advanced methods of samyama and you are encouraged to explore this area.
The great Yoga Master, Paramhansa Yogananda, taught that "energy follows intention." All yoga postures are a demonstration of this truth. Every time you tense your muscles, you are sending life-force to that area of the body and when you relax your muscles, you are releasing the life-force to return to its source in the frontal lobe of the brain. As you practice, you become aware that you are in command of your life-force at all times and you begin to understand that in all areas of your life it is important to retain awareness and control of your life-force.
It is precisely your own intention and the life-force that answers to your mental command that is responsible for everything that occurs in your life. Therefore, getting control of your thoughts is key to manifesting in your life what you really want in every area of life: career, relationships, health, and happiness.
Chances are you have heard a yoga teacher instruct you to "set your intention" at the start of class. Have you ever wondered about the importance of this? You set your intention because your yoga practice has three aspects to it: your thoughts, the energy that responds to your thoughts, and your body that expresses that energy. In every pose, your mind directs your energy, and your energy flows through your body in obedience to your command. The quality of your thoughts influence your practice positively or negatively as the case may be.
If your thoughts are full of negativity, fear, sickness, injury, weakness, disease, old age, pain, and decay, your energy will respond to your command and deliver these to your body. But if your thoughts are instead focused upon ideas that are positive, life-giving, life-affirming, loving, strong, vital, youthful, powerful, calm, joyful, healing, and pure, then these ideas will color your energy and bring these qualities to your body. Knowing this, you would be wise to set your intention at the beginning of the class, and pause during class from time to time to return to it.
Setting your intention involves pausing for a moment (standing or sitting) before starting your yoga practice, closing your eyes and assuming the Spiritual Eye Lock (the gaze at the point in the frontal lobe between and slightly above your eyebrows). Take a deep breath and go within. Then explore your mind for a moment asking the question: “what is it that I want right now?” Then allow your mind to ponder this for a moment and then set your intention. It can be anything at all. It can be something you wish to manifest in your life generally or it could be a yoga practice goal, a relationship goal, a career goal, or whatever it might be. Allow your intention to sink deep into the inner silence for a moment.
From time to time during your asana practice, pause again and go back to your intention. The poses release a great deal of life-force energy to flow through your body. Since we know that “energy follows intention”, it is so important to set and to maintain your intention so that the energy produced by your practice flows in a concentrated and focused manner instead of being dissipated and scattered haphazardly. If you often find yourself feeling restless and anxious, the simple act of setting your intention will provide the focus that you need.
All of the various yoga flows have different energetic effects. When in a pose, it can be extremely helpful to use affirmation in order to control and positively direct the energy of the pose. For example, in Warrior II Pose, you might affirm silently or aloud, “I am strength,” and then pause to allow the affirmation to sink into your inner silence and to color the energy flows of the pose.
We will discuss more on how to formulate and use an affirmation in next month’s tips and tricks.
Bri Winton’s Dynamic Human Anatomy:
In yoga class, your teacher may say "don't hyper-extend your legs/arms" but what does that mean? How do we find that spot where we have the 'look' of the pose, are getting the benefits of the pose, and not hurting ourselves?
This knowledge usually comes from a lot of practice and guidance under a trained instructor...but here is the nitty gritty of it.
I usually find people hyperextend their joints at two times. The first one is when a student is trying to create the 'look' of the pose. The second is if the student is super flexible and trying to find a stretch she thinks she is supposed to feel.
What is the technical mistake?
Usually the student creates a force perpendicular to the bone and muscle structure, rather in line (or parallel) to the bone and muscle structure. This creates a stretch in the joint, rather than the muscles and hyper-extends the limb.
To correct this, the student should engage her muscles (to maintain force parallel to the body's way). Doing this over time will create the student's 'look' of the pose. This is a safe way to ease into the strength building and stretching aspects of the poses.
So what does this mean?
We will focus on this with specific limbs next time.
Quotation of the month:
"The virtue of Love. The heart's natural love is the principal requisite to attain a holy life. When this love, the heavenly gift of Nature, appears in the heart, it removes all causes of excitation from the system and cools it down to a perfectly normal state; and invigorating the vital powers, expels all foreign matters--the germs of diseases-- by natural ways (perspiration and so forth). It thereby makes man perfectly healthy in body and mind, and enables him to understand properly the guidance of Nature."
- Swami Sri Yukteswar, from The Holy Science
AngelHeal Yoga is a fun and athletic style of yoga incorporating healing yoga meditation practices. If you are interested in becoming a yoga teacher or deepening your practice, consider attending an AngelHeal Yoga training.
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