Each and every cell has an entire consciousness of it’s own, one that even scientists struggle to explain and understand. Each cell performs its own, individual function, communicating fluidly (we hope) with other cells whilst performing inexplicably complicated tasks without any direct orders. Each cell has a mind of it’s own, yet it is not a mind, par se, it is a conscious awareness. The left brain, which has become increasingly oversized as we have evolved, will have us think otherwise. It will have us believe that without an opinion or a judgement or even given the OK, those cells will blindly guide themselves and may just about succeed, at a level that may be slightly below par without the aid of countless aids.
Yet, even without the addition of superfood support, an academic text and professional advice, these cells know what they are, know what to do and continue to perform all manner of tasks at lightening speed, unsupervised. Each, effectively has its own individual and unique level of awareness a little like the distinction between a two-dimensional reality and a three-dimensional reality and so forth, inexplicably bound to an infinite awareness of the ‘whole’ body and universe.
The body is immensely intelligent and the more emphasis we place on mental intelligence, the more we appear to overlook this and rely on external sources to tell us what is happening to it. Ironically, even through amazing, holistic yoga practices and creative sequencing in class, I have been slightly reliant on teachers guidance rather than this body’s own.
Having recently began visiting a yoga practitioner who provides one-to-one support, this idea of self awareness became increasingly poignant. She encourages each client to really , on a very slight and subtle level, focus and hone in on their own body, focusing on its alignment, areas of stiffness and flexibility and what it is telling them throughout different movements and positions.
There can be varying levels of mental blocks attached to certain poses and it takes the utmost respect and honest communication to overcome them. This requires an honest conversation with the body, not at a mental level, it sort of supersedes that. It is communication that allows the ‘knowing’ of past grievances, injuries and adopted mentalities whilst remaining present and ignoring any judgement from the left brain; listening in to the magnanimous yet silent whispers of the right brain and the physicality of the body. Once one does this, interestingly, the two begin to cooperate and liaise more fluidly and then curiosity comes into play and fear begins to disappear…
This lady can somehow see straight through every one of my physical barriers through to the emotional and mental cause, and teaches through self-trust and trust in her guidance, ways to overcome them. If one has the mutual support of the body and shows a deep respect towards it, they can really connect with each posture from the base up, i.e. the feet and sitting bones. How often does a person fling themself into a backbend of another position, to be ‘brave’, push boundaries and compete in a class? Even with an iron sense of self will (I will not be budged very easily) yet, I have become a slight victim to those fatal errors in attitude towards my practice.
This lady is the first person who told me not to go near a backbend until I have complete support and cooperation from my back and a strong connection with pelvis/sitting bones, as without strength in those areas the pressure and flexibility of the pose may be unevenly/unsafely distributed. I spent weeks in agony after completing those poses, with teachers very kindly encouraging them or at times yanking me into position, which did feel like the most fantastic, almighty stretch! Yet it was not something I could then access independently, pain free. By being taught through a means that relies on true self-judgment, Mya has encouraged me to develop a much more intuitive and deep-rooted relationship with my body.
Most significantly (here goes the left brain yapping again) these sessions have illuminated the intelligence of the human body. The sheer, magnanimously intuitive nature of it and it’s wonderful connection with our emotions, past and present relationships with ourselves and others. Area’s of trust I had no idea had been breached, were literally being animated by certain positions. With the right approach and respect towards that history, they are being overcome. Yet, I wonder, if at times class teachers, due to numbers and their own wonderful abilities, fall prey to being slightly oblivious to the deeper-seated reasons behind a participant’s hesitation towards certain poses…
Yoga was initially taught one-to-one and performed as group sessions with an equal level of interaction. Whilst I adore classes because of the creative sequencing and some of the teachings and perspectives that mentors offer, it seems imperative that anyone serious about yoga should invest in one-to-one teaching that will build a much stronger internal foundation and understanding of their practice. I hadn’t really even said hello to my feet or sitting bones until these past few weeks, after practicing quite intensely for months. So hey feet and hey ass, nice to meet you…!
Images by Andy Gilmore