When you or a student or client is struggling with a long-standing, seemingly unchanging, deeply embedded pattern, one that causes harm, neglect, or criticism (with themselves or others), how do you know which course is best: Compassion or Action?
Through the lens of yoga, a stuck pattern is called Tamas (or tamasic). It means that which is stable, inert, inactive, dull. The word for Action is Rajas. That which is mobile or motivated. More likely to catalyze change.
Ideally, yoga recommends making wise use of Tamas and Rajas to create the opportunities for Sattva: that which is lucid, clear, graceful, and loving. Each of us needs just enough Tamas (stability and structure) and just enough Rajas (motivation and courage) to move toward Sattva.
In my last two posts I started our conversation about the Language of Yoga with an exploration of what not to do, and began illustrations and explanations for what we should do instead.
I introduced the first of the essential language skills for teaching yoga: Knowing the Basics of the Poses. I began to illustrate the important differences between active/passive language and direct/indirect language.
Today I’ll continue that exploration by talking about how you can Nourish Your Presence.
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I ended our previous blog on this topic with this:
Ironically, it's not about having stronger boundaries in the sense that our Western view continues to tell us to "take care of ourselves first", or not to let in the toxicity of others.
At times the teachings of Yoga (philosophy, psychology) seem to conflict or to present a paradox. In fact, even the physical teachings of asana (yoga poses) can seem conflicting. Teachers will encourage students to "go deeper", and in the same instruction to "accept the present moment as it is"
This wonderful question came to us - electronically - and is deserving of a thoughtful response. Since we aren't in a real time, in person dialogue, I'd like to offer this reflection in two parts. Beginning with a wider view, and then moving to a more intimate view in the second blog.
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How Does Yoga Create Secure Attachment (if it also teaches non-attachment)?
Somatic Secure Attachment
In the process of yoga, secure attachment networks are neurologically stimulated, and interpersonally nourished. As we teach students how to have more consistent, more nourishing, more relational attitudes and considerations of their physical body as a resource, their sense of being in relationship with their body changes. How they relate to their musculo-skeletal, physiological, and neurological expressions is a reflection of one layer of their attachment networks. As historical trauma lives in the body and brain, the somatic practices of yoga - including breathing, sensing, moving, respecting, reflecting, and inviting their body to be integrated into their life in healthier ways - stimulates new ways of being in relationship with their personal ecology.
The Language of Yoga: Part Two – Focusing on What To Do
While I was only able to begin this conversation in my last blog, I hope I opened your ears to consider how language is being shaped by our contemporary yoga culture. The problems that I see with some of the current language trends in yoga—not merely in vulnerable populations, but also across the yoga industry—are both a misuse of language and a missed opportunity.
I celebrate that we have the opportunity for a discussion that can help us to be shaped by how yoga was meant to be transmitted. With the following language and personal development shifts I am recommending that we allow yoga to shape us—rather than us attempting to shape yoga.
Don’t Get Stuck at What Not To Do
Several years ago, in our 300-hour yoga therapy teacher training program, a student asked an earnest and pivotal question about the language of yoga. I felt the fire of my passion for elegant language tools that elicit the experience of yoga for our students, in their brains, bodies, hearts, minds, and relationships.
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In fact, her question was so stirring to me that I actually had a hard time staying in my own seat. I wanted to jump up and give a thorough demonstration of Language Styles, including a fervent exposé on what is not working in parts of our language culture in yoga.