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2016 Kiss My Asana #1: Being the Questions February 1, 2016

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Changing Perspectives, Confessions, Depression, Donate, Faith, Fitness, Food, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Loss, Men, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Music, Mysticism, Pain, Peace, Philosophy, Science, Suffering, Tantra, Texas, Tragedy, Twin Cities, Volunteer, Women, Writing, Yoga.
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“Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

– Excerpt from Ranier Maria Rilke’s 4th letter to Franz Kappus, dated July 16, 1903

I am a curious person by nature, and it is an attribute of my personality that was nourished when I was a child. So, it’s no surprise that my favorite letter to a young poet contains advice on questions and answers. What often surprises people, however, is when I explain that I didn’t take yoga teacher training so that I could teach – I took it so I could help answer questions.

When I started practicing yoga in Houston, I would constantly encounter family, friends, and even strangers whose main intersection with yoga was me. Naturally, these people had questions. These questions might start off simple: What do you like about yoga? How often do you do yoga?

But, before long the conversation veered outside my pay grade*: (1) Can I (or Should I) do yoga if I have high or low blood pressure? (2) I can’t do yoga because I have arthritis, right? (3) Is yoga bad for me or my unborn baby? (4) What do I do to get rid of this pain in my bottom or back side?

Keep in mind; I studied English in college, not holistic health – and I was practicing yoga, not studying it.

But, the questions kept coming up. And people didn’t seem satisfied when I invited them to take a class taught by one of my teachers or told them they should ask their doctor (who often didn’t know anything about yoga). They knew me, felt connected to me; so, they wanted my answers.

It was like the universe was echoing Rilke, “Live the questions…live your way into the answers.” So, I did.

These days, I don’t always have the answers, and I still refer people to their health care providers. But, now I know enough about the questions to recognize how to help someone live their questions or how to direct them to a resource, like Rilke directs Kappus to Nature.

The mind-body connection is part of Nature. Tapping into that connection allows us to live our way into answers. But, people often feel disconnected from their bodies or their minds in a way that creates suffering, discomfort, dis-ease, and questions. These questions can only be answered by tapping into our mind-body connection.

See the Catch-22? If you feel disconnected from yourself, your whole self, how can you tap into yourself? One word: Yoga. The only problem is that many people think they have to be a certain way or have a certain physique in order to “do yoga.” Many people don’t realize there is a yoga practice for everyone; you just have to find yours.

The adaptive yoga taught by Matthew Sanford, and the other teachers trained by Mind Body Solutions, is an approach to yoga which helps “those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability to find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body.” It is a way of practicing yoga which helps people tap into their whole selves in order to live their way into answers.

“When you leave this short time that we have together, you will spend the rest of your life fulfilling or answering a single question. The question is a simple one, it’s very straightforward. But I want you to think about it. The question is, “What’s next?”

– Excerpt from Rod Stryker’s 2013 The Four Desires lecture at Aspen Institute, 2013

 

After posting a pose a day for the first year, and a playlist and videos for the second year, I wasn’t sure what was next. I felt especially pressured because, even though it’s leap year and we have a long February, Kiss My Asana is shorter this year. We only have 29 days to pucker up and offer it up to raise awareness and resources for the adaptive yoga program at Mind Body Solutions.

Ultimately, I decided to offer an opportunity to explore the what, why, and who behind the practice. But, these questions (and answers) I’m posting as part of my 2016 Kiss My Asana offering are not only opportunities to explore the practice of yoga, they are also an opportunity to live it and share it. (The first “enhanced” video is here if you are reading this via email.)

Thank you, in advance, to everyone who donates and/or volunteers to answer these questions. If you’re interested in answering the questions (on camera), you can grab me after most classes Friday – Tuesday or email your video to myra at ajoyfulpractice.com. (Please note: If you are sending me a video, leave a 6-minute pause before each answer.)

Keep an eye out for the practices inspired by the answers and the donation-based classes coming soon!

~ NAMASTE ~


*NOTES:
(1) Yes, you can practice yoga if you have blood pressure issues; however, you may not be able to practice all poses or sequences if your blood pressure is unregulated. As with all physical exercise, get clearance from your health care provider before starting something new and then check in with your yoga teacher before class to make sure you receive modifications as needed.

(2) Wrong. While, again, some poses or sequences may be counter-indicated if you have arthritis, certain types of yoga are weight-bearing exercise, which means they are good for osteoarthritis. You may not experience the similar symptom-related benefits if you have rheumatoid arthritis, but yoga can still help you manage stress and promote overall wellness.

(3) Not if you’re mindful. Prenatal yoga and prenatal yoga modifications are great for moms-to-be, babies-to-be, and even dads-to-be. Check in with your health care provider and your yoga teacher to make sure you receive modifications as needed.

(4) It all depends on the type of pain, location of the pain, and why you may be experiencing the pain. Sometimes the answer isn’t a hatha yoga (physical yoga) pose or sequence, sometimes it’s a lifestyle or mattress change.

~ OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTIHI OM ~

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