I have been debating for a while whether I should blog about these three essential practices to increase energy. I read, reflect and integrate this subject and occasionaly teach this process in private settings and/or during workshops and wonder if I can inspire personal study, reflection and integration of the subject in just a few words. I’ve decided that I won’t know until I try. So, here goes…
In our culture we tend to value what is tangible and what can be measured over the subtle and the hard to measure. Examples include, fullness, stability and effort over emptiness, ease and non-attachment. From the perspective of yoga and ayurveda, if we only focus on fullness, stability and effort in the form of full schedules, hard work and determination we run the risk of becoming rigid which leads to the depletion of energy.
From this perspective the process of identifying and balancing opposites brings lasting energy. The following is an INTRODUCTION to this subject and designed to create curiosity for personal exploration.
The discussed opposites are:
Balancing fullness with emptiness begins with small things such as eating until we are 80% full, leaving a little space/emptiness in the belly and noticing how we feel more energized from this practice than we do when we eat until we are full to the top which tends to create heaviness and sluggishness. With practice this awareness reminds us to bring this type of attitude to all of our consumption. In addition, by being aware of the spaces in between things and seeing how when a drawer or a closet is full to the top we can’t easily find what we need, which is a mirror for our schedules, we learn to leave a little space/emptiness in between things for integration and automatically increase our energy levels.
Stability is connected to the innate sense of security. In my classes I often say “there is no flexibility without stability”, reminding us that if we want to create space we need to have something to push off from. One of the Sanskrit words for health is swastha, which means to be established in the Self; a grounding connection with who we are. We can see that stability is considered an essential component to health, energy and happiness, but if it’s not balanced with a willingness to lighten up the grounding energy starts to pull us downward and what was initially designed to support us, becomes depleting. Balancing stability with ease can be as simple as smiling more as smiling creates a natural opening, which changes the quality of the breath and how we choose to look at life. Balancing stability with ease can also be done by choosing to be curious where we would have otherwise chosen judgment. Bringing ease is also about valuing relaxation as a source of energy.
Effort is about showing up. It’s about moving beyond instant sense gratification and working towards what we value rather than sit back and wish. Effort is important as it creates the energy we need to move forward, but without non-attachment it can lead to burnouts. From a yoga perspective non-attachment is an essential component of healthy effort. Non-attachment is what allows us to release expectations, therefore, experience the beauty of what is actually arising. Non-attachment that is balanced with effort, stability and ease is what creates a willingness to take a risk and explore what makes us feel alive. Knowing that the journey is the goal we reduce self-imposed pressure and experience more energy.
Ways to begin exploring non-attachment include letting go of clothing, books, objects we don’t wear or use. Eventually we can even start to let go of expectations but it’s a process that begins with little steps based on individual starting points. To begin we must first know what we are attached to and how it’s serving us. Another common example of the benefits of non-attachment is imagining ourselves holding something light in our hands, let's say a book, and imagining holding this book for hours, maybe days. The longer we hold on, the heavier it gets.
I want to emphasize that this post is only an introduction to the subject and it's written under the assumption that fullness, stability and effort are the priority which is not always the case. In addition, it's lacking in-depth discussion of what each means and it's important to know that they can all be applied to day-to-day processes but also to more subtle aspects of our life journey. If you want to learn more and find ways to integrate this in your life consider working with me. I also want you to know that the fascinating exploration of the play of opposites includes "the not discussed in this blog" hot/cold, nourishing/cleansing, ascending/descending and expansion/contraction.
The offering of yoga classes and posture sequences are an interplay of all of these opposites. One of the reasons why yoga asana feels so good.
In Good Health