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Yoga inspires! The secret is in your eyes!

How does yoga INSPIRE?
Everything is energy. We all know this. But do we act as if we know this or is it just an idea in your head?
If everything is energy and we know it, then the energy vibration of your body will be directly linked, associated with, influential on every aspect of your life. Yoga asana approaches physical energy to heal, reintegrate, open and surrender. When energy is blocked physically, you will be experiencing blockages in other areas of your life too (even though you may not know it)! So, if you want your life to flow in a more inspired profound way, the answer is simple: get your body moving with the intent and energy of attention on the body and breath, which frees prana (your vital life force) that is a force and power that will unleash your inspiration! If you think you are smart now, start yoga and enter a whole new realm of intelligence and creativity!
The secret is in your eyes.

In general, we are sincerely skilled at surviving life. This means that at any moment, when ‘necessary’, we can check out of arguments, intimacy, reality. It is a universal epidemic that when things get rough, we very likely shut down and excuse ourselves from the hurt, pain, disappointment, betrayal, mirrors that are reflecting back our own dislike of ourselves or humanity, or any other emotion – sometimes even ‘too much’ closeness – that we might feel uncomfortable with.

In my first yoga teacher training, we were taught to look for the cues for students checking out – this was invariably through observation of their eyes.
Eyes closed means an avoidance. This was a blanket statement I learnt and accepted without challenge at the time. I have since heard many a yoga student say that when they close their eyes they can feel a greater connection with themselves. So I started to unpack my training and belief system!

Working through my own experience and playing with the options, I have found that eyes closed can mean anything depending on the state of mind in the action/moment. We usually turn to the body to understand the mind because the body is gross dense energy and much easier to understand as it operates more ‘innocently’ – which involves less trickery and deception from the mind. Through the body we can gain clues to what is happening in our heads.

But, you’re thinking, I am thinking, so I know what is going on in my head? This is hardly ever true. When you really start to explore the mind, you notice that on so many levels any number of things could be going on. You can be thinking of the task at hand, you could be simultaneously carrying on a conversation that happened earlier that day that got under your skin, you could also be processing the emotions of that conversation, and thinking of the next thing you have to get done. If you really look, you could also be processing a childhood drama that the conversation from the day provoked, or the current activity might be igniting. The mind is not so smart, and not so clear on any given day. It can be taught to be an efficient tool to achieve certain goals, but that is also one of its limitations. The mind is also fickle and easily distracted, the mind is also an energetic sheath that surrounds the physical body, and is stimulated into action by the senses, by your experiences.

There are 3 states of mind, dull – gathering – scattered.
We need to know in what state we are operating.
We need to disinvest in the story (the experiences) – slowly but surely, more and more.

Our state of mind is very challenging to be honest about, giving centuries of philosophers fodder for their soap boxes.

If the state of mind you have is dull, closed eyes usually will be a dull state, almost like sleep, or open eyes that vaguely stare into the distance – both of which are forms of escape. If the state of mind is scattered or gathering, keeping the eyes closed, or still will be very difficult, and eyes will be roaming all over the place regardless of being open or closed. If there is
an underlying state of stress in the body, the eyes will tend to dart all over the place, if open or closed. If you can’t open your eyes in a pose, it likely means that you are avoiding something – physical or mental. If you can’t close your eyes, there is also room for inquiry – what stimuli are you searching for to keep the status quo? If you are more interested in what is happening around the yoga studio, with curious eyes roaming, then you have neglected to cultivate inner curiosity and your inner world is being neglected by your loving attention. (usually a habit formed of distraction, learned and repeated endlessly but that can be undone, if the need is there to undo it, to go within!)

So, I have pretty much covered myself here, as all philosophers do, and given every possible excuse and understanding for all possible scenarios. So how do you unpack this?

It is quite simple really: some of the above statements speak for themselves. Inquire!
Then ask yourself: are you equanimous? Is your mind alert and awake?

So, in the context of yoga and making your yoga work for your life: if you always close your eyes – always, try a few months with eyes open. If you only close eyes for certain poses, try to undo this habit pattern and keep them open and still and see if an emotional eruption starts to rear its head.

Yoga speaks of drishti: point of focus and eka grata: single pointed focus
Can you practice yoga with a focal point for your eyes throughout the 60 minutes – quiet eyes, not staring, glaring or hard eyes but gentle eyes, slightly ‘released’ back into the eye socket, soft and not distracted? Then, your eyelids can be open or closed and it really doesn’t matter.

But you need to know for sure if YOU personally are achieving this eka grata drishti!
As a curiosity, test yourself: it is harder to notice if your eyes are wandering when they are closed. When they are closed – for many – they will roam behind closed eyelids, especially when there is a certain unease – in the pose or in life in general (something you are hiding from), take these clues to unpack your stuff!

Make it easier for yourself: keep your eyes open, focused on a spot, manage your distraction, and see what magical thing happens in your yoga practice. When your eyes are still, so will the mind be still, and then you can go inward. Only then you can FEEL. Only then.

See how much more present you become with your body, and how much more sensitive you will become to sensation and vibration through training your mind via your eyes.
When your mind is quiet, there is room for inspiration.
Inspiration is creativity beyond thought.

3 new reflections by Kerry Weavind in June 2016. Inspired by experiences at Indie Yoga.

There is no “i” in Y-O-G-A. A matter of the heart? :

How much of an individual yoga practice can shut you off to the people around you – in effect, making your personal journey more important than the journey of ONE. I was probably one of the worst at this, where it was all about MY practice – a single minded focus that didn’t include partner work, or waiting while a demo went on, or talking or a giggle in a class because that was all outward going tendency of the mind and I wanted to be IN MYSELF. All good things for a serious sadhaka who in effect should then move to a cave in a mountain.

The fact is that we are all living in caves in our Joburg mountain – behind huge walls and separate – holding and enforcing this separateness unless by invitation to the inner circle. BUT yoga means to Yoke to / Union with ALL that IS. This as a practice can mean so much more than getting on the mat for your own personal best achievement award every time, (whether that award is because you got into handstand or because you were with breath uninterrupted for 75 minutes!) because if you are rejecting being close with the people around you (that person you don’t like having just next to you, millimetres away from you on their mat – it’s nothing personal we know!) – then you are rejecting yourself also and doing that, your fragmented self – only the few bits you accept into your own inner circle of self-love, can unite, but only with each other – small picture.

Union can’t happen with all that IS, until there is union within yourself and with others. One of the best ways to explore union within yourself is offered through yoga – your own experience on the mat AND the people sharing your yoga experience – so no high energetic walls around your mat edge, no resistance or defensiveness to close up and personal, to being seen.
Some students have said, and I myself have complained of legitimately feeling too sensitive to other peoples’ energies, but through my own exploration, I have noticed that sensitivity to energy was due to a judgement of myself or other being separate from me and wanting to be in control (MIND! not heart) of what enters my personal space to maintain MY equanimity (though equanimity is an easy-going balance no matter what and who and when or where is happening to your immediate experience!). None of this speak to the big picture of uniting with what IS, which is everyone and everything. As philosophy is sooooo tricky, we could start here to discuss right discrimination – also a tool of yoga as a path to BLISS. But if we deconstruct that, it means discriminating against your mental shallowness and your mental and emotional boundaries that keep you separate.

We have seen that the outgoing tendencies of the mind can result in chatting to someone nearby, creating feeling of connection (not invalid) but this alone stirs up vrittis (mental disturbances) which is often designed to separate you from another. So, by being accepting and open to others in your space around you, I am inviting you to connect. How can we connect, truly?
Through sharing something that you deem unshareable – a part of yourself you have tried to hide.
Through touch, a non-invasive (do I need to say that in the context of UNION and Self healing?) hand gesture, a hand on the shoulder, or for the brave, a hug!
Through eye contact that lingers and holds the space of mutual acceptance.
Through silence without rejection.

We can really help eachother heal in a non-verbal way if we let down some defences. Our causal bodies (the energetic blue print that is the essence of each of us), can interact when in a close embrace and through that interaction, the causal bodies can start to work out the layers of karma between us, without our intellect even knowing the process – a let go of control on so many levels.

I have been fearful of hugging most of my life. If you told me a yoga class would involve hugging, I would have run a mile. And I know some of you feel the same way. So this email is to bypass the intellect in a way, but to prepare you for a more open and loving experience at Indie Yoga. My motivation is my own self healing, which I can’t do without you, as to open my heart I need you. I can’t open my heart simply on the mat in my hero’s pose. Well, I can. And it will change the experiences I have with life in general. But it is half the journey.

The Student Teacher Responsibility

    I sat across from my teacher in Mysore, India in 2003, listening to one of my teachers offer up translations of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. I felt tired. I was mentally lazy (tamasic) and expected her to do the work of exciting me about the sutras. I felt bored…but it was my tamasic state that was the cause of that ‘boredom’ though ego would have me believe that she was uninteresting and the cause of my boredom. (Ego seldom takes ownership for negative experiences!). At the top of a yawn she stopped and looked at me and my colleage and lectured us both on perhaps the most important (unofficial) yoga sutra lesson:

    You must change your food. Your food is making you heavy. You must sleep properly. You must take care of your mind.
    I cannot teach you if you are tamasic. I can’t offer any of the beautiful messages of Patanjali’s yoga sutras to you if your mind isnt fertile ground to receive the information. It just won’t work!

    I walked away from that lecture muttering under my breath that she was blaming me for the lack of energy in the room! ha! But my ego was doing the blaming so as not to account for my actions that lead to that moment. She was right – poor diet and mental and energetic awareness. Fortunately, a seed was planted in me that started a long term process of reflecting and understanding.

    I have since taught many teacher training courses and yoga classes where I have sat in her very same shoes. Students have been uninterested or had such a strong intellect or ego of their own that the teachings could not penetrate into the room. Other teachers I know have also expressed – often when being the surprise fill in – how sometimes the energy in a yoga room is just flat no matter what they offered – students having made a decision before the practice even started about their experience about to unfold. it is a closed (and cold) energy and doesn’t pull the magic from the ether.

    Similarly, when a teacher is not a clear conduit for Universal consciousness through their own tamas or lack of connection to this portal of energy through not doing their own work, then the student can only learn what the teacher knows intellectually and has learnt before and not what is available (to each of us – not just teachers) via the Universe.

    Over the last 15 years of teaching, I have come to understand that the student teacher relationship is a force of equal openness and honoring but that this relationship cannot flourish if one of either side of the dynammic is not open to being taught whatever the ‘lesson of the day’ is (sometimes not asana or the sutras at all!). Responsibility for this process in a yoga practice or workshop lies equally with the student and teacher. From my personal experience, in the classes where students are present, and ready, and the teacher is present and ready, there is a push/pull dynamic of information that starts to flow in both directions creating a magical alchemy.

    They (who?) say “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. I understand that now.

    The student must be ready for the lessons of Universal knowledge or consciousness to open that portal which will be communicated through the teacher. The teacher must be clear enough to surrender to the flow of the energy pulled into the room. We are each accountable to eachother and to our higher good to make this magic happen!

    Perhaps you have seen our ‘why we let things go wrong in winter’ campaign on Facebook. If not, sign up to our facebook page to plug into some realtime inspiration!

    Without fail, at the onset of winter, I carried the belief of fat and lazy and filled with dread. I had a fatalistic approach – it meant one thing: too much food, too much snuggling, too much weight gain and unhealthy feeling. A self-fulfilling prophecy of course.

    Perhaps it is #whydoweletthingsgowronginwinter – at some time in our lives, we had a particularly docile winter and certain things unfolded in a certain way, and bam, a rule was formed! All through summer we are motivated to keep ourselves on the straight and narrow of conscious awareness of decision making around health and happiness, decisions FOR feeling vital and joyful, and in winter, we have the expectation of that all coming to an end. Why do we stop making those decisions that were working for us in summer? It is almost like we give the ego a break from the hard work of being happy and slide down into the abyss of ego superiority – and sorry to tell you, your EGO doesn’t really want you to be happy.

    So make sure this winter when you make your decisions, that you are making them based on your own best interests. Don’t be overcome with laziness unless that serves you, by darkness – unless that serves you, by the energy that is around that won’t be supporting something new – unless hibernating will serve you! Winter can be a time of personal growth if you keep up the good work and keep the clever decisions coming.

    See you on the mat for those good decisions that will help you be awe inspired, with tools for inner quiet, lessons on your body and developing your focus and concentration, and insight into the stuff that is closing your heart!

    Articles written on yoga by our Haum of Yoga teachers

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    Thoughts on yoga, life, the meaning of both are here in this blog by Kerry Weavind

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    The Elusive Powerful Uddiyana bandha
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    On Being Yogic
    The lesson of living yoga not just on the mat and what this really means.
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    Anusara Yoga 2007
    Align with the Divine: A rose in a rice field is a weed…
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