Yoga: moving to stillness

Category : General advice, Philosophy 16th September 2019

Inside Yoga 278 (16/9/2019)

Last week I wrote about the importance of stillness in yoga and why the aim to find stillness is so important, but what about movement? How can moving help us find stillness?

We are people who can get stuck, often emotionally and mentally and our body responds accordingly. There are times when our bodies feel stuck, lethargic and unable to respond to the demands of the day, and either in conjunction or as a result our mind and feelings feel low and negative. This is most common in the morning after waking up.

If we are being honest, there are numerous times when we might think we have woken up but we haven’t! We are slowly making an attempt to start the day but we feel so tired, and perhaps for many of us, we don’t feel like doing anything or dealing with anything. We would rather go back to bed and see what happens later.

Most of us do not have the time or the freedom to do such a thing, so we struggle through the day feeling like we are dragging a huge sack of dirt on our back up a steep slope.

Our day does not have to be this way.

In my experience these negative and slothful moods can be and need to be shifted as soon as possible, so that we can deal with (or cope with) the day ahead.

Movement and exercise are a good way of pushing out of us the physical and emotional baggage which seeks to weigh us down and make the day so awful.

The best approach is to act without a thought: get up and do some exercises, naturally some yoga exercises are recommended, to wake up the body and get the mind in the place it needs to be. I also recommend movement like a walk or a run. I walk my dog in the morning, whether it is a short or long walk, the movement and fresh air really helps me to shift any negativity that I might feel on waking up.

The beneficial effect of cultivating kinetic energy, energy derived through movement, is an important factor. Through a good walk we can feel the layers of sleep and slothfulness fall away, leaving us unburdened and energised to move through the day and cope with whatever the day presents.

Last week I wrote about the importance of stillness: movement and stillness work together to help us feel better and more focused.

American yoga teacher, Erich Schiffmann wrote a book, in 1996, called Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness. He wrote: “Stillness is not the absence or negation of energy, life, or movement. Stillness is dynamic. It is the unconflicted (sic) movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. It can be experienced whenever there is total, uninhibited, unconflicted participation in the moment you are in – when you are wholeheartedly present with whatever you are doing.”

Yoga asks us to focus on being present when practising, as stated above, to be “wholeheartedly present with whatever you are doing”. This includes walking (or running, swimming, or any similar activity), because for a walk to be beneficial and therapeutic in the way I describe I will often bring myself back to paying attention to the walk, and noticing where I am, instead of lost in thought or feeling about something else which has nothing to do with the walk. The longer the walk the more chance I have of becoming increasingly absorbed in the walk to the exclusion of unwanted thoughts and feelings. The when the walk is over I often feel ready for what is ahead.

Whatever we do, we aim to rid ourselves of unwanted thoughts and feelings.

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