Sunday, July 3, 2016

Siddhartha, A Yoga Therapy Perspective: Techniques to Ground Yourself in the Present Moment

Yet another question on Siddhartha

d) From the chapter, The Ferryman: “Yes, Siddhartha,” he spoke. “It is this what you mean, isn’t it: that the river is everywhere at once, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the rapids, in the sea, in the mountains, everywhere at once, and that there is only the present time for it, not the shadow of the past, not the shadow of the future?” “This it is,” said Siddhartha. “And when I had learned it, I looked at my life, and it was also a river, and the boy Siddhartha was only separated from the man Siddhartha and from the old man Siddhartha by a shadow, not by something real. Also, Siddhartha’s previous births were no past, and his death and his return to Brahma was no future. Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has existence and is present.” 

Question: One of the main factors in stress and illness is that students and clients are constantly involved in the guilt of the past and plans / expectations / worries of the future. Siddhartha learns that nothing exists but the present moment. How do the tools and techniques you use in yoga therapy help to ground your students and clients in the present moment?

Dakota Lupo my teacher this morning for the Bikram Series said “Presence is a practice.” He stressed that our eyes should remain open in the yoga poses. “Don’t close your eyes and drift into an imaginary world, be here now in this hot room with the bright lights and your sweaty towel tired and frustrated on Saturday morning. “

I, too, believe we must practice being present.  One place we can practice being present is on the Yoga mat.  I believe large hatha poses like Warrior 1 and 2, Triangle and Side angle have wonderful presencing effects. To practice these poses we need to ground and focus.

Also balancing poses require being in the present to achieve (Tree, Balancing Stick, Standing Bow Pulling Pose, Toppling Tree, Warrior 3 and its variations).  The challenge of balancing brings our awareness into the present moment. When are minds wander we usually fall out of the pose. When teaching these poses,  I remind students to notice and accept what is happening right now without judgment or reaction.

In my Hatha Class after we warm up with the Pawanmuktasana/The Joint Freeing Series and move to standing I give I talk when we come to Tadasana about how to stand in the present moment.  I ask the students to lean forward – that’s living in the future (what am I going to have for dinner tonight, shoot I need to go to Trader Joe’s). Then I ask them to lean back – that’s living in the past (I shouldn’t have talked to my husband that way. Yesterday sucked at work). I ask them to lean to their right that’s the masculine side (their strength and power). Then lean to their left – that’s the feminine (love and compassion). Now finally stand straight on both feet in the here and now. “It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one.” - George Harrison

In Yin Class, I teach asanas that have to do with the root chakra to ground and presence the class. Poses like toe squat, saddle, flamenco, caterpillar and rag doll all address the root chakra by accessing the legs.

Also in yin I remind students to experience the pose. And continue to reexperiene over time. Don't camp out and get comfortable and drift away. Be at your compassionate edge and feel the pose.

The body rotation in Yoga Nidra is a presencing technique that I feel is highly effective.  When I go through the rotation I ask the students to either bring awareness to the body part, repeat the name or visualize the body part. I stress that it’s very important to chose and use one of these techniques. If emphasize that if you don't follow along with the body scan the presencing will not be achieved.

In meditation, mantra meditation is my preferred method of presencing.  I enjoy chanting to Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Sometimes just calling on them by their bija mantras: Shreem and Aim.

Mudra Meditation is also a new technique that I am using at the beginning and end of class for grounding and presencing.  Being in the present is so important and something I stress over and over when I am teaching yoga. In the words of Mother Teresa:  “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”