Preparing material for yoga classes is a fairly solitary process. I tend to do a lot of circling my mat and shuffling papers before I can loose my mind and free dive into soft tissue and fluid body systems. Once there an inner world opens up and I can stay down quite long without feeling the need to surface. These explorations seem to fulfill a childhood wish to grow gills.
When I finally got horizontal yesterday, I was both following my inspiration and succumbing to the heat of an April afternoon in Mexico. A few minutes down, breathing, and I was in my aquatic element, surrounded by the warm, fluid, familiarity of my body. First task was to quiet my shoulder girdle, which allowed me access to sensation pathways rippling from belly to feet. From there, I worked on mapping some simple exercises that awakened connection to and sensation within the pelvic bowl, and then I surfaced to make some notes.
Wading in again, and setting course for the deep bowl of my belly, part of my attention was drawn to hover around my arms and upper back. As I circle my arms through a range of movements one might find in a ‘typical’ yoga class, I find a particular angle that invites a response in my pelvic floor. I think this is an anomaly, so I retrace my arm sweeps. That tug shows up again. And yet again, so deeper in I go and from the shoreline of my bones, my aquatic explorer maps something I have never ‘felt’ or noticed before. I have to repeat the movement enough times that I can find it again, and then I open my eyes, sit up, and try to describe my discovery in words. There is often quite a distance to traverse from the sensations of first connection, to the teaching language that will allow me to take others to those places within their own bodies.
It’s a fairly solitary occupation, this body mapping, and I don’t get out much when I am in ‘Explorer Mode’.
I heard my teaching method received a little ribbing the other evening at a social event. Seems that when one person put their hands on another person’s body and instructed them to ‘breathe into’ those spaces (far removed from any actual lung tissue) there was some chuckling (maybe it was an outright guffaw, and my friend was just being nice…).
I guess I say things like ‘breathe into your <insert body part here>…’ a lot. It’s an instruction that brings awareness, loosening, and expansion into places where I might be observing tension, compression, lack of tone and disengagement, and it works.
It has been my observation that most people attending yoga classes are going to stay up in their minds when they are given movement instructions that include the names of specific muscles, as well as lots of ‘rights’ and ‘lefts’. You can see all the internal scrolling they have to do in order to reach a certain ‘feeling state’ as they try to recall exactly which muscle it is I am referring to.
My feeling is that the longer-lasting pathways to a certain end result are more easily arrived at~ and remembered~ when our tissue is given a few lines of poetry. Something primal wakes up, some inner animal that feeds on curiosity and the desire to be wildly alive.