Someone I know well who was being detained under the mental health act recently was tentatively questioned by his consultant about the strange contortions he was putting his body through. A complete discharge was about to be sanctioned but nurses passing by his room were unsettled by the ‘Houdini in a box’. This line of enquiry was furthered with questions over whether these actions were driven by some outside force, whether voices were being heard. With disbelief dawning that such questions could be aimed at a practice so healing in nature the patient exclaimed. ‘I’m so sorry, I think it’s you that has the mis-understanding; i’m simply practicing yoga- and it’s good for me.’
I don’t think any right minded (no pun intended) yoga practitioner would doubt the healing properties that yoga has to offer, however I would counter this train of thought with the lesser known truth about yoga that one size does not fit all. That the symbiotic nature of our body’s and mind’s are unique to ourselves and that their construction and assembly needs to be valued in their own way and not rushed or sped towards any finishing line. True there is a universal benefit to be experienced when attending classes that everyone is familiar with to a lesser or greater degree, however I do question what can go on beyond the class if left unnoticed or communicated back in some verbal context.
Put another way I attended a counselling course that demonstrated the fragility of an unsettled mind by giving all the students tightly woven balls of interlacing elastic bands. The course was client centred in its approach and individuals were told to treat the balls they were given as clients they had just taken on; the elastic bands represented problems unknown by the client that would need addressing and unravelling. Thankfully no juggling acts were performed or games of pass the parcel. The effect this simple exercise had on us all though was profound. In an instant we realized the patience and accuracy required to address the task properly. That one band, like the mind, would be linked inextricably to another and unless the process was carried out with deft and delicate precision the balls could split, snap or break out uncontrolably.
If raising the Kundalini Serpent it is pretty well known in yoga circles that the energy centres need to be aligned, harmonised and in rhythm in order to avoid any breakdown of the nervous system, that the chakra’s building blocks start at the bottom and that there can be no rolling of the dice to jump a few places, that this would only lead to a forfeit as opposed to victory.
In the same way as this asanas are the key to unlocking and unfolding the blockages that lay buried deep within the body and mind. They have the ability to release and transform toxic energy and turn poison into medicine. What perhaps is sometimes required in an individuals yoga programme is a firm foundation for this to take place step by step. The subtleties of tension are intricate in their form and have a domino effect running like a chain throughout the body.
To savour anything of value in life, anything that we choose to keep in our lives, it seems the more we choose to do this gradually while nurturing whatever it is with gratitude, the more we will benefit in the end.