If you have been practicing yoga for a while, there may come a time that you feel you have “outgrown” your regular class. Or perhaps you find yourself getting tired of the same old routine. Whatever the case may be, this can be a cause for celebration! Why? Because your consciousness has expanded and it’s likely that you no longer fall into the patterns of such thoughts as “I don’t know what that Sanskrit word means” or “I look terrible in this pose.”
Take a moment to pause here. This is the potential still point to access your freedom and enter the ground of “being”.
It’s easy for many of us to jump straight into “looking for” a different style of yoga to practice, a new teacher, a more advanced pose, or we drop out completely because our mind decides that “I’ve nailed this yoga stuff!”
You may want to consider the invitation to stay a little while longer, within the space and freedom that has been created for yourself through all the efforts of your yoga asana practice. This is where the magic arises.
Once we become familiar with the poses, the thinking mind is freed and enables us to relax into the “feeling state.” This is the place where you feel safe enough to close your eyes and really feel the sensation. Whether it is a stretch, a tension, a tender bliss feeling or an irritation…. This is the moment that you have really connected to a deeper sense of self.
It is during these moments that you may feel compelled to let out a satisfactory “sigh”, while simultaneously, your body moves with more grace and ease.
When our fundamental consciousness is free, it is compelled to express itself through action or movement. This is extremely satisfying and liberating! Have you ever tried to stifle a yawn instead of fully and completely letting it out?!
So, the question is: How do we express this freedom in yoga?
For me, it is in the transitions. If the class is a Vinyasa, I get a little more creative in moving between the poses. It is an opportunity for “me time”, and however fleeting this is, I can be fully dedicated to expressing the inner feeling through movement, the shape of my hands, the flow of my arms and my breath moving into my feet and toes, as my whole body becomes “one” with the dance.
There are some teachers that even offer the freedom to “go on your own” for one or two rounds of a flow sequence. In any class however, we can take full responsibility for our freedom, either physically, emotionally or mentally, and choose from here where we place our attention. This is a process or a deepening of the awakening conversation within, which then shows itself in action.
When we are completely immersed in our yoga practice and find ourselves in a state of energised focus, continually on the edge of our skill level and capability, it is in this space that we have entered what is known as the “flow state”, allowing the outer form to become an expression of internal freedom, that may be experienced as a vibrant, felt sense of bliss and connection.
There seems to be a growing trend in free expression classes – Ecstatic dance, embodied flow and free time in Vinyasa. Perhaps it is a sign that we as a westernised yoga culture are becoming more collectively liberated and simultaneously expressive.
Janine Leagh is the director of Hot Yogi Australia HYA