The Universe Is Energy.
Energy Is Conscious.
Consciousness Is Sacred.
So why are we always so tired? Why is it so difficult to be conscious? And why don’t we treat ourselves and the people in our lives – and the world we live in – as worthy of honor and respect and compassion?
Yoga says all our problems begin with the belief that what we see in the mirror and experience through our five senses is who we are; that our emotions tell us the truth about ourselves; and – my personal favorite – that our rational minds are capable of thinking through everything. This self-confusion is the first and foremost of the five great afflictions – ‘kleshas’ in Sanskrit – Desire, Hatred/Anger, Fear and Ego – being the others. All yoga practice is devoted to bridging the breach between our inner and outer being, so we can understand at last whom and what you really are.
Yoga provides both a spiritual philosophy – called Samkhya – and the practical means of actualizing the philosophy in your life. When you’re out of energy, can’t concentrate, feel fearful, anxious, tense, and angry – in other words, when you’re out and about living your life – ‘philosophy’ doesn’t cut the mustard. You need coping tools – you need a practice. The following are simple, basic, user-friendly YogaLife practices to access the energy, consciousness and compassion of your essential self.
Connecting to the Inner Cosmic
Yoga identifies a universal life force called Prana as the sustaining energy of your being. Prana manifests as breath, and lack of breath/air – disconnection from Prana – is the primary cause of fatigue. You hold your breath when you’re concentrating really hard, or feeling really anxious, or really rushing. When you don’t breathe you get tense, which further constricts breathing, and so begins a vicious, debilitating cycle that feeds on itself. You can change your diet, exercise more – or less – drink more coffee or cut out coffee, think positive thoughts and hope for miracles, but unless you get enough air you’re going to get tired. The simplest most direct way to access Prana is connect your breath to the Prana flow in your body.
1) Practice – Connecting to The Cosmic Breath
- Prana flows up the front of the spine and down the back. Connection to Prana begins by visualizing its course along your spine.
- To ‘see’ Prana give it a color, any color you like. Expand your focus by giving the image and color a quality – warmth, coolness; oiliness, fluidity, water. Adding this sensory element to the image opens you to ‘feeling’ Prana flow.
- Inhale with the upward flow of Prana along your spine, exhale on the downward. With practice what at first seems like separate steps – locating, seeing, and breathing – come together, providing access to limitless energy.
2) Practice – Listening to Your Cosmic Self
- You can’t ‘think’ your way into being conscious. In fact, according to Yoga, thinking is the problem! The surest, most direct way to quiet your overworked, overworking monkey brain is Mantra. I’m speaking specifically of ‘bija’ mantras – the single syllable ‘seed’ sounds comprised of the sacred letters of the Sanskrit alphabet
- OM and SHANTI are two basic and powerful mantras known to most yoga practitioners and,for everyone, easy to remember. OM is the primal sound vibration and SHANTI, though not officially a bija, is a word meaning peace that has a magical power to actually make you feel peaceful.
- Coordinate bija mantras to your breath, sounding the syllables on the inhale and exhale. Or, independent of breath, simply chant them within, listening to the continuous, rolling vibration of sacred sound.
- These bijas have the same effect as spending time in a quiet place alone. I practice on the NYC subway – I know they work!
3) Practice – Opening the Power of your Heart Center
- Yoga places the energy of love, compassion and intuitive wisdom in your heart center – Anahata Chakra – located in the middle of your chest. Sadly, the universal response to tension, fatigue, stress, etc., is rounding your shoulders and collapsing in the chest, physically closing your heart center and blocking access to its psychic energy.
- Relievie tension in your upper spine, neck and shoulders with 1) shoulder rolls – up, forward, back and around; 2) upper spine flexion/extension rolls; 3) stretching arms behind your back; 4) holding your elbows behind your back stretching your chest; 5) gentle neck rolls. 5) any combination of the above
- Touch: Hands are the work ‘organ’ of the heart Chakra and touch its sensory ‘organ. Place either hand – or both – over the Chakra. Send yourself the message of love contained in your heart by letting the warmth of your touch and the Pranic energy in your palms flow into it.
- Visualization & breath: Imagine Anahata as a sphere of wondrous color – like a balloon – expanding in your chest. Breathe directly into the center of the balloon, allowing both inhale and exhale to create expansion and openness.
Open your heart Chakra and it releases energy through your mind, body and spirit. The practice is basic, yet the results are transformative.
Connecting to your heart is like coming home at last….
When your home in your in your inner Cosmic Self – and all things are possible….