Receptivity: learning to listen through the body
In yoga class this week we are working on receptivity as a theme. As ever in yoga this maps onto every part of our practice as multi dimensional beings - made of physical body, emotions, mind and spirit. On a mental, emotional and spiritual level, we cultivate receptiveness in our ability to be open, humble, sensitive to what is occurring and arising in our mind, energy and emotions. It is the ability to observe yourself without judgement, seeing yourself newly with each breath and each asana.
Receptivity is a continual process of:
Observing --> arriving in your self--> letting go, detaching
--> becoming present again: newly open, humble and curious.
On the physical level here is what goes on in the anatomy - the biomechanics of the strength and flexibility we are looking to create in a healthy vibrant yoga practice.
The yoga world can get a little over loaded with the desire to change, to bend, to pop into incredible poses or to look a certain way. Really really, yoga is a holistic system for health. Many, especially in hot yoga, get addicted to the stretch and the flexibility. What we need for a healthy happy body is equal measures of strength and flexibility. What this looks like on a muscular level is RECEPTIVITY of the MUSCLES - the muscles' ability to turn on and turn off as and when required. We want the muscles to be as plump and strong and they can be pliable and long.
What tends to happen in life and on the yoga mat is we over-recruit certain muscles, and completely forget about others muscle groups. This will (even with a regular yoga practice) put strain on the body. So in your practice you need to deeply tune into what muscles you need to create COMFORT (sukha) and STABILITY/STRENGTH/STRUCTURE (sthira) in each asana. You are HOLDING the space of the body as you come into asana AS YOU OPEN INTO IT.
Secondly, receptivity in the muscles, is the muscles' ability to 'turn on' and 'turn off'. Yoga, of course, reflecting the middle path of balance, asks you to be AS MINDFUL and present when you fire up the body, as when you lengthen and release. Often certain muscles, or sometimes your whole body will lock into contraction and tension, or it will have got stuck in lethargy and apathy. Begin to work on sensitising your body so you can feel the activation, and the release. Begin to use your breath in rhythm with this. Play with this dance between holding on, and letting go; between focus, intention and then complete surrender and release.
In my practice, this is the PHYSICAL EXPRESSION of...
SAT CHIT ANANDA
Truth, Consciousness, Bliss