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Yoga And Tension

‘The body too has its rights; and it will have them:  they cannot be trampled on without peril.  The body ought to be the soul’s best friend.  Many good men however have neglected to make it such: so it has become a fiend and has plagued them.’ – Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare.

Why do we need to undo or release tension? What’s the problem?

For Vanda, tension ‘has been accumulated in the body and in the mind by years of forceful education and …is the result of will, effort and prejudice.’

The main cause of many of the physical and mental problems we experience is tension. When we are upset, disappointed, abused, bereaved, we often experience tension in our bodies and minds. Many of us have also become adept at upsetting ourselves with negative, repetitive thoughts we frequently entertain. What we have done, and indeed what has been done to us, may affect us deeply; that’s to say our experiences, and our propensity to ruminate endlessly on them, often times has a deleterious impact on us. And the consequence is tension. Where once as children our bodies worked effortlessly with a non-conscious fluidity of movement, we have become tense and tired, we hold, we suffer, and our once integrated and freely moving body is no more.

In many respects we have become our own worst enemies.

‘The way we live is destructive to the body, there is no respect towards its needs and demands. We destroy, little by little, that precious, complex, vital, vessel of life we received at birth, why? For ambition? For a final cause? For the sake of our children, or of our family, for the “superior” mind, the “higher” self, the glorification of the brain, enlightenment, etc?’ – Vanda

We should not take our bodies for granted. Instead we should treat them with respect; our bodies are truly wonderful and retain the capacity to be brought back to beauty and integrity at any stage in our lives.

To embark on, and continue with this work, requires an extraordinary effort.You must be prepared to do whatever it takes to free your spine; to bring new life to your spine, to bring life to your whole body. This is your job, your responsibility and only you can do it. “You have to become your own teacher and your own disciple” – Krishnamurti

Just for once be simple.

We all need to allow ourselves to be a beginner, to be surprised by and open to the new, to the never before experienced. We have to welcome and accept being in a state of not knowing. We need to be prepared to begin again and again, and to allow ourselves to get out of the way of our bodies; to sometimes let our bodies take the lead; – to accept that we might not always know what is in our own best interests when it comes to its movement and form. You might say that we each of us needs to allow our own body to discover its own discipline and through that to express itself.

We all simply need to start from wherever we happen to be. You might not be feeling at your best. – You might be ill. – The point, however, is how you perceive and react to that fact, how you are going to work with that in the here and now; and, eventually, how you’ll allow yourself to find a way through it.

You have to develop a faith in the notion that working in this way with the body allows there to exist the opportunity for fundamental changes in both body and mind that you could not have imagined or anticipated. You also have to be prepared not to pursue this goal with aggression or impatience.

So why do it?

Leonardo Da Vinci describes the average person as one who “looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking’

If you practise this way of doing yoga you might become something other than Leonardo’s ‘average person’.

‘”When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and your discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.'” – Patanjalie.