Yoga can be a transformative practice, and that’s exactly what it is: practice.
When we practice bringing our attention to breath, directing our focus inwards, and witnessing where body-mind-spirit connect, we are learning how to come back home to ourselves as whole.
The Sanskrit word yoga has many meanings and is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning to yoke or unite. Hatha yoga is a compound of the words Ha and Tha meaning sun and moon. Hatha is a (now) common approach to yoga and includes a sequence of both active (sun) and restorative (moon) postures. According to Indian Tradition, hatha yoga is a form of preparation for physical purification of the body with the intention of practicing higher meditation.
Meditative and intentional movement holds innate wisdom that offers us insight into what’s happening on the inside, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. In my experience, yoga has helped me become more connected to my body - it is a place where I get to actively participate with my body: telling my body what I want (manifestation) and listening to what my body wants (body talk).
What are the boundaries of my body?
What are the spaces within my body that I know?
Where are the places of disconnection?
What are the stories that occupy my mind?
Where do these thoughts arise in my body?
These are integral questions to reflect on as you explore your yoga practice.
Whether you are new to yogic movement or well oriented, these questions will offer relevant insight day in and day out. And you may ask, “How do I know where the boundaries of my body are?” or “How do I know the felt difference between connected and disconnected?”
To these questions, I would answer practice. If we remember that we have access to innate wisdom within us, then all we need to do is practice connecting to that space.
In my last blog post, Boundaries: Embodying What You Want, I wrote about the freedom and authenticity that comes from practicing Self Mastery. Self Mastery is the ability to CHOOSE the tone of your energy in any given moment. Mastery is the ability to OCCUPY an uncomfortable situation with a sense of where you are inside, as you hold a deep level of COMMAND in how you behave externally.
Now, I know it can be challenging to know where to start, how to overcome old triggers and patterns, and how to hold yourself as well as others accountable for our choices. And this is where practice comes in handy.
The great thing about your yoga practice is that YOU are in control. You decide how hard you work, you determine where your edge is, you dictate your boundaries for effort and ease, and YOU translate what each sensation (felt sense feedback) means.
For me, yoga is the process of learning what each sensation is communicating - what the felt-sense feedback is saying. Yoga is a movement practice where I am able to exercise both my body and mind: I witness where my body and mind interact and where they disconnect, I notice where my mind goes to distract itself or what thoughts come up when I’m feeling specific sensations or emotions, and I practice being present in the moment where I can free myself from what holds me in the past or the future.
It is here at the very center of myself, where body and mind meet, that lies my Spirit. This space is what I refer to as my true center, much like our verbiage around ‘true North.’ Discovering this center, and finding balance and unification of all parts, is where my yoga practice becomes what I call Self Mastery Practice. Here we can practice setting boundaries with ourselves and soon those around us.
Exploring The Boundaries of Your Body in Yoga
- Are you capable of listening to or acknowledging your own wants?
- Are you present with your intention or want for practice?
- How do you know when you can go further or when you’re ready for a greater challenge?
- How do you know when you need to pull back or when you are overwhelmed and need more support?
At least here, in your practice, you are only working with your own patterns, habits, and stories. And with practice, you will be able to confidently bring these self-mastery tools into your relationships, work dynamics, and exterior experiences. I believe that we can shift the way we look at ourselves and inevitably the world around us.
Below I have outlined some questions, check-ins, and reflections to help you uncover the boundaries of your body in movement. Join me in a short yoga practice. Grab some water and set up space for you to move and turn inwards. If you would like to set a more intentional space to move, I have shared a couple of rituals I use in my practice:
- clean and clear your space
- burn sage, palo santo, or incense
- open up a window for fresh air
- play some relaxing music
- select crystals to set out and around your mat
- light a candle and set an intention for your practice: Why are you moving? What do you want to feel like at the end of your practice?
A Sequence in exploring the Boundaries of your Body
1) Tune in and gain awareness of the TONE of your energy
- How are you feeling?
- Are you feeling open, closed? Strong or weak? Distracted or present?
- Do you feel soft, hard, tight, vibrant, shaky, clear?
2) In posture, practice the ability to OCCUPY an uncomfortable situation with a sense of where you are inside
- Where are you feeling this posture?
- What muscles do you think need to be on and regulating weight and displacement? What areas do you think can be soft and open to movement and expansion?
- Where is there exhaustion and weakness? And where do you feel solid and strong? Both of these questions lead us to our gold, providing us with information on how we can feel stronger and more empowered in our resilience.
- Mantra: “Despite the discomfort, challenge, and present situation, I know where I am, I am centered, and I know what my goal is here, I can see the bigger picture plan.”
- Where is your center?
3) And then hold a deep level of COMMAND as to how you choose to respond to this discomfort
- What does this sensory feedback tell you? What does your body need/want
- Are you breathing? Where is your breath? Is it stuck in one area? Can you send your breath to your hands, to your feet, breathe into your Heart and breathe out the top of your Crown?
- Do you need to move around and regain connection and awareness in all the areas occupied in both strength and vulnerability?
- Where are you in depth? And how do you know when you can/should/want to move deeper? What sensations do you feel when you are in pain, stretching, or relaxing and letting go?
- Do you want to come out? And if you do is it to take care of yourself. To distract yourself, or to sabotage and give up? What does your Self-talk sound like?
4) Repeat steps 1 through 3
With each posture, you can move through each step, or when you find your mind wandering, you can use this three-step system to bring yourself back to center and turn the awareness inwards.