Over 20 years ago when I began my yoga journey first I was so inspired as my teacher at the time was quoting the following statement by BKS Iyengar “The body is my temple, the asanas are my prayer”.
How beautifully this points out the way for a journey that is truly sacred and full of dedication. I think at the time I was literally hit by the realisation of how very little I was living in my physical body and how much I was longing to get in touch with it at a deeper level. It was like a whole new world opening up to me. I was feeling muscles I had never felt before, navigating and translating complex instruction into shapes and forms I had never experienced.
But the most interesting things really happened outside of the yoga class away from the formal practices, in the way I felt , like a new person, when I was walking, talking, going on about life…
Because suddenly there was this new felt relationship with being more present in myself thanks tothat deeper contact point that the body was giving me. I was lucky to already sense right then that this was one the biggest gift yoga was going to continuously offer in my life.
How often do we really treat our body as a sacred ground, as a temple? How can the practice be a devoted offering and a prayer?
Unfortunately at times we use our body as a servant for our minds goals and purposes. Like a kind of brain taxi that brings us from point A to B and then we hop off and continue to live life from our heads only. We have agendas around what our bodies should look like and how they are supposed to perform the tasks the mind driven authority is giving them. This is the old mind over matter paradigm that sadly is very disconnected from the beauty of embodiment and true communication between body and mind.
I am pretty sure that you have already noticed this state of disconnection in your life, right? But the point here is not to judge ourselves or blame our busy and dominating minds either. Because if we experience disconnection from our physical dimension there is probably a very good reason for it. Maybe there was a time when numbing feelings, leaving the body energetically, or taking refuge in mind spaces was indeed the best strategy to deal with otherwise too painful situations that we experienced in the past. So rather than judging ourselves for this habit of dissociation, let’s remember to meet those fragmented pieces of our humanness with lots of patience and compassion.
And once we have done this acknowledgment with kindness, we can start giving back the body its voice, its authority and let it express what it wants, what it needs, what feels good. In allowing a more instinctual non-linear wisdom to unfold, take space and move through us as we are guided towards the wholeness that is our birth right.
Things are changing now, rapidly luckily, also in the yoga world and more and more people seem to look for a somatic deeper felt dimension in their practices. To actually live inside the body and treat it as home requires a completely different approach to how we enter in contact, it is literally like learning a new body language. Here is a list of a few key elements that keep returning in the opening and passing the doorways to the temple within.
- Slow down
When we move fast we cannot feel very well and get lost in mechanical autopilot actions just doing very easily whatever we are used to do. In order to shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic responds in the nervous system it is essential to slow down to give yourself the chance to inhabit the body more fully.
Most of the time we live too high up in our body by holding tension that lifts us away from ground. To develop the ability to let your foundations support you, makes gravity become your best friend. Feeling connection and support of gravity helps to relax into the body and receive energy rather than deplete it.
The body speaks to us through sensations in order to listen to it, it’s helpful to stop, pause and tune in again and again. To lower the volume of the usual mind chatter and turn up the volume on the feeling language of body, sensing to the more subtle movements within.
- Becoming conscious of what has been unconscious
The process of awakening and self-realisation is at the heart of all yoga practices. In terms of embodiment this means reawakening the nervous system in those places that have become unconscious. So that all the places that have gone numb, tight, held up or asleep become accessible again.
- Meeting and releasing the stored and un resolved emotion and traumas
In our body we hold the story of our past. In releasing unconscious holding patterns we may experience emotional release and touch on old wounding. One may, at times, need therapeutic support with navigating through these very raw and tender places as they surface. By meeting the shadows we learn to accept and heal.
- Creating new pathways
By establishing new neurological pathways throughout the whole body we open ourselves to more possibilities. The body becomes the place of safety to rest into and live life to the fullest. Our tolerance to both pain and pleasure increases and we are able to embrace our full human spectrum of emotions more fully in the here and now.
- Applying the cultivated wholeness to our everyday life
Once we have this deepened embodiment access to our experience we start to let this flow into everything we do and feel increasing both freedom and connection. The more we are able to be in contact with ourselves on all levels, the deeper we can be in relationship to life, nature and all those around us that we enter into relationship with.
I hope these principles can be useful reminders and signposts for navigating the pathways into taking seat in your body temple more fully. Always remembering embodiment is not a destination but a journey that keeps unfolding, continuously revealing its beauty as we open up to it.