You can change a posture in an instant by creating a LINE OF ENERGY. You are a living being. You are a LIFE FORCE. In Yoga class we work to keep the Prana or life force flowing. Smoothly. Through the Nadis (Yogic energy channels). The process, repeated regularly, removes any blockages (physical or emotional), keeping you your BEST you, MORE you. In Yoga class we are also in the business of EXPANSION. Expanding UP and OUT in various directions (depending on the ‘shape’ of your posture). Like a tree from its roots, you expand from your centre. As you assume posture you deliberately channel your energy to create and maintain it. The more you do it, you enhance your capacity to CREATE and CHANNEL the Life Force with more EASE and greater POWER. In time there will be less dis-ease less weakness.
Every posture has at least two lines of energy radiating away from your centre e.g. the Bikram Standing Resting Position – You are ‘Grounded from the waist down, Elevated from the waist up’ Yes? these simple lines moving opposite to each other. In Bikram’s Tree for instance you have three lines of energy, Up, Down and the third line stretches through the bent leg knee.
And then there is my favourite posture (depicted in picture 🙂 ), BIKRAMS TRIANGLE:
A real POWER pose. If ever the word TOTAL applied, it is here. TOTAL POSTURE. When you are new to this it can feel like there is a lot of ‘different’ things going on. You see and feel only the ‘short’ little lines described by the last instruction uttered by the teacher AND you see too much of the overall shape in your visual. You try to apply the visual AND that last instruction you heard to your own body. It doesn’t feel like it looks on others sometimes. THIS is part of the process of beginning. The actual Triangle in Triangle is between: the inner side of your torso, your bent leg thigh and your stretching down inner arm, but let us find a couple of lines of energy for you to work with on to create this one: 1) through each arm extending outward in opposite directions, opening, expanding your chest. Don’t think your arms start at your shoulders; think they start at your source, your centre and 2) one long line running on the outside of the body from anchored foot to tip of top arm fingertips (you know? the bit where the lightening shoots out? 🙂 )
You DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO when you are new to this practice to move your body; you invest a little of what energy you have ‘in’ to get a lot more ‘out’. After a while you will have to consciously address your lines of energy and the conscious intensification of these longer lines of energy helps RELEASE the tightness, decompress joints and ultimately open you up. With repetition, movement through these lines becomes more fluid and easy.
IT ISN’T GEOMETRY, BUT…
Initially it may feel you can only work or stretch one bit of a line at time, you know how it goes, you are focussing on one end of your body so much the other end takes on a life of its own, doings its own uninstructed thing 🙂 . Eventually with repetition all those lines will connect up (collide 🙂 ) and become continuous, flowing (a charge 🙂 ). A posture like Triangle becomes an opportunity for a GLORY of simultaneous HAPPENINGS in a ‘whole’ (its ELECTRIC folks! 🙂 ) . This is why I love this picture so much. The artist is obviously a practitioner and understands this pose so well.
It starts in the mind. Trust your higher mind to manufacture and sustain your body in the image of Yoga. You have to bring INTENTION to each yoga posture. You have to CREATE the initial energy or charge. Tighten up the loose ends, activate the right muscles. If a muscle that should be activating is loose, it is heavy, it interrupts the flow through the line of energy. Tightening up loose ends is a fundamental technique (see ‘Thumbs Up!’)
WHERE TWO BECOME ONE
E.G. A posture like FULL LOCUST. If you were just to isolate the arms as two lines of energy and try to lift them up and back and squeeze the shoulder blades back in together you are missing a crucial part of the posture; the chest has to be part of the line too. Yes you can do the separate arms and still get a ‘chest opening’ BUT when you ACTIVELY add the ‘chest up’ into the posture and lift it ‘chest up chest up chest up’ LORD! it is so much easier. This is a perfect example of the line does not start at the shoulders it starts somewhere deeper. Experiment with the difference between energising your arms separately and energising up through the chest and see what I mean. The difference can be quite dramatic when you tune into this. And you will.
As much as the stretch is part of the energy/the line, you have to allow the energy to penetrate your ‘ends’ . It HAS to be from END-TO-END. One end example your ‘fingers’.
Well, you hear me say again and again, if it is loose, it is heavy. That ‘heavy’ will just creep up your arm and make the posture harder, there is less power. By not tightening up your fingers you are using less energy in your given line, tighten up to intensify the energy.
Yes you could have a ‘relaxed’ ‘tight’. If that is what you wish. A minimal effort to establish that fingers are not drooping/separating. This is ok and may work better for adepts. HOWEVER, you are in a beginning Yoga class and I would suggest when you are new you should try for maximum effort to ULTIMATELY create the ease of minimal effort. Minimal effort at the outset is really difficult in some of the more intense postures and does not feel great. You will quickly find and work the right intensity for you after a while; this is a personal matter, but at the outset go for your BEST strongest effort, you have to try to gradually increase the demands on your body in order to get improvement. You establish a flow of energy through the template of the postures as guided by the Bikram instructor. As you tune into your inner guru you will refine this line of energy, clear the blockages and learn to express it on your own terms. Then you learn to follow the energy down the line to your access your tight areas to get an even more powerful GORGEOUS stretch going. A ‘perfect’ posture is much less important than making your MOST SINCERE EFFORT (albeit better and more efficient to be sending that effort through the right lines). THIS EFFORT IS A BEAUTIFUL KIND OF PERFECT!
Observe the effect of your breath on a line of energy; note the ebb and flow of breath effect on ‘movement’ ‘stillness’. Use your inhale or exhale to reach deeper into the direction you are working (remember you connect your breath to movement; move back on an emphasis on inhale, move forward on an emphasis of exhale (so much easier)’. This can give you a sense too of a ‘LENGTHIER’ line of energy and enable release of any unnecessary strain to achieving posture. Your breath will enable you to SUSTAIN YOUR LINES for ‘longer’ without tiring. Ultimately you need to find the right intensity of energy in your lines for balance, for YOU, you unique being.
YOU + STRONG LINES = LIGHTENING
Instead of thinking of the overall image of the posture (which is useful to a point). Fine tune into the detail of the verbal instructions, especially the sets ups, first break down the lines that are being created. Then in time the overall posture will come from your strong effort to complete the fine lines that spring from your centre (somewhere deep inside you) and somehow connect them together. Your posture will ultimately reveal itself as a side effect from working on the micro moves. This will only become clear as you try to apply the techniques on a regular basis.
The people who first drew the lines were applying the techniques for years and gave us the knowledge that the lines exist. The EXPERIENCE of trying to FIND the lines IS your PRACTICE.
Om Om Om Archimedes “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.”
Namaste, Trisha x