Thoughts On Yoga


Our life story is written into our bodies. The body is the immediate environment through which all of our physical experiences are interpreted. Because we are living a physical life, it is necessary to know our bodies if we are to know ourselves.That we can feel deeply is one of the greatest privileges of being human. Sensation is essential to our experience. Our willingness to feel deeply can serve to wake us from our cultural slumber and help us to live more fully in ourselves and in relation to one another.Yoga is an invitation into this kinesthetic realm, a chance to engage with the innate intelligence of our bodies. We enter a wide array of vivid emotion and awareness during our practice.Ideally, we come to rely less on what we are taught about yoga and more on our own intrinsic, intuitive knowledge. Learning to trust the natural intelligence of the body is empowering: our epiphanies result from the organic ripening of our practice. They are a direct result of our personal experience, rooted in our cells, truly embodied. It is wisdom with compelling simplicity and it is always accessible.

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Every healthy organism requires a continuous flow of information, nourishment, and energy. A healthy system is open, osmotic, changeable, resilient, and adaptable. In contrast, a closed system, unable to access new information, loses its receptivity and becomes static.

If we close ourselves down, we lose an essential capacity to regenerate. Depletion is the inevitable result. Our practice has the potential to fortify our vitality, reconnect us to the intelligence of the natural world, and enliven our physiology and energy. A healthy yoga practice ensures an open system.

Form is a vital component of learning. In yoga, it provides a context for self-understanding to a point, beyond which we must embark on a journey all our own, a vision quest that requires solo time in often unfamiliar territory. Through this process of exploration, a deeper understanding emerges that leads to an authentic yoga practice.Some contemporary yoga schools discourage innovation. For thousands of years, before asana was catalogued, the first yogis experimented with energy, movement, and meditation. I imagine that their practice was based on a process of discovery, on what they felt was the fullest expression of the energy that pulsed through their bodies, informed their meditation, and connected them to realms of divine consciousness. It is only in the last century that asana practice became more rigidly codified; something essential was relinquished.Human infants are wonderful models of this beautiful state. They feel and reach through their hands and feet in order to develop intrinsic awareness while learning to understand their relationship to the environment. They literally discover knowledge before the conditioned intellect kidnaps its highly evolved adaptive instincts in favor of getting somewhere, faster, harder, and stronger.Let’s practice yoga with a willingness to trust the alchemy of practice that emerges from natural curiosity and patient inquiry.

Wendy Bramlett