An interesting journey, these past six weeks or so, into a new approach to my yoga asana practice. The form I’ve been exploring was developed by Brazilian teacher Francisco Kaiut, is deeply therapeutic and focused on the health of the body’s joints.
I decided to practice almost exclusively in this form, for a month or two, because I was feeling that I had reached an impasse with the more dynamic style that had become my habit. And, in doing something radically different – slowing way down, spending much more time in each posture, working almost exclusively in reclined or seated positions – space was created for some very sweet and profound releases and realignments.
Aside from the intelligence of the movements and postures themselves, the key for me seemed to be creating an environment in which my nervous system could feel safe enough to maintain a kind of neutrality throughout the process. In other more dynamic forms – heavy on standing poses, with lots of continuous movement – the physical discomfort emanating from an old ankle injury would oftentimes keep my nervous system in a state of protective agitation (for Trekkies: something akin to “yellow alert” :).
Anyway, this all has me considering, once again, the relationship between quietude and dynamism. Since the overall vitality of the physical and subtle body requires a balance of activity and rest, most systems of body cultivation utilize a combination of the two. A system as a whole, however, may lean heavily to one or the other pole.
And of course: a quietude that is true, is internally dynamic; and a dynamism that is true, expresses and never loses touch with internal quietude. This is what Taoism knows as the flirtatious dance of yin and yang …
But there’s also the issue of habit occluding the arising of spontaneous intelligence. If our practice within a formal system has become mechanical, its benefits can be decreased or even completely negated by the side-effect of conceptual rigidity: of attachment to this-or-that way of doing things, and a corresponding dulling of our innate wisdom. We need to notice when a particular form has become stale, and do something to revive it, to keep it fresh – or else let it go.