“The spirit of Viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself. As everybody is different and changes from time to time, there can be no common starting point, and ready-made answers are useless. The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status much be reexamined”
– TKV Desikachar (Sutra III-6)
9:00 – 12:00 – Kriya Yoga and You – Become the Master you need
12:00 – 14:00 – Lunch Break and rest
14:00 – 17:00 – Redefine the Nervous System: Neuroplasticity & Rewriting your Code
Location: r_auṃ Regensburg (Pfarrergasse 2 – Erdgeschoss)
Price: 100 €
Kriya Yoga and You – Become the Master you need
Many people come to Yoga focusing on something that needs to be ‘fixed’ – discomfort in the body, problems with energy, stress management, etc. Yoga can be a wonderful tool for managing and healing pain and turmoil in the bodymind. However, I have come to see Yoga techniques as set of tools, cultivated over many years, that have been designed to impact and manipulate our physiology.
We can use these tools to regularly make repairs on the damage incurred by living in this world, which is a really important application, but in this series, I challenge you to ask the question, “What if I am not broken?”
- How would I use the tools of Yoga if this were true?
- What if we turned towards Yoga techniques not as repair job but as a radical act of creation?
- What if we used the tools of Yoga used rather like the tools of Michelangelo who saw the angel inside the block of marble and simply set it free?
Begin with what is real for YOU
One approach to teaching Yoga techniques is to determine the priorities for the student – mastering a technique, memorizing a mantra, changing an aspect of the bodymind, etc.
I invite you to consider your life….. All of it. Even the bits that do not feel very ‘spiritual’ or ‘yogic’. This life is your path. Two Sanskrit words that have been working their way more and more into the vernacular are “Dharma” (ones spiritual path) and “Karma” (the law of action and reaction in life). A mentor of mind, Mario Thanavaro, told me
“Your Karma becomes your Dharma once you accept it.”
In other words, the activities happening in your life ARE your LIFE. When you accept your life as your spiritual journey, you don’t get as lost in trying to escape it or ‘fix’ it. This does not mean that you stop acting to shift the flow of your life, but you are more open to the deeper meaning of all of it, not just the pleasant bit. This also helps of become more free of shame that may arise when we feel that we are living outside of a spiritual journey when life falls apart.
So, how to we begin to shift practice from one of pasting techniques as a repairwoman and move towards becoming the artist of our own lives? Let’s see which way the wind is blowing.
Redefine the Nervous System: Neuroplasticity & Rewriting your Code
We cannot consider working with our nervous system without understanding how we are hardwired. In the Viniyoga tradition, this is a fundamental concept expressed often in simpler terms. We must consider the ‘constitution’ of each person – not only the physical form but the neurological framework on which they function.
Behavioral science has demonstrated, again and again, that we don’t usually make rational decisions. Rather, We rationalize our intuitive decisions – meaning that decisions are being made based on our epigenetic predisposition rather than a logical analysis of the situation. We are left to make sense of that decision afterwards – how does this impact who we are if the impact of personal choice is much smaller than we assume?
The modern science is slowly turning towards how to reverse the epigenetic predisposition of our biology, but ancient teachings are already pointing us in this direction. Yoga doesn’t give a definitive answer on the question of free-will but does ask us to acknowledge our inheritance as part of ourselves and gives us tools to perform upgrades. Knowing about the predisposition in our BodyMind is important. However some of the same same qualities of our neurological system that created our hardwiring can also be a tremendous source of healing, namely neuroplasticity. This is, simply, the quality of our brains to physically change in response to input. The malleability of our brains, and hence, our minds does not end with early childhood.
A primary idea that exists in traditions like Yoga is ‘practice.’ The word has come to mean different things for different traditions, but at its core, it is a reminder to embody the ideas of the traditions, repeatedly, over a long period of time. This is the heart of neuroplasticity. Just like your behavior can be determined by the configuration of your neurological pathways (inherited or developed), changing behavior can have an impact on your neurological pathways. To ‘practice’ anything is to remake neuropathways.
Once we want to consider rewriting our programming, which is our habitual responses to the world around us, we can consider the array of tools in the Yoga system. Fundamentally, many traditions like yoga point to something like our ‘True Nature’, an idea that there is an aspect of us that is behind our programming, an aspect of ourselves in neurological balance, attuned to nature and not bound by our genetic and developmental predispositions.
The two of the MANY tools that address some of these epigenetic predisposition in the Yoga tradition are pausing and breathing….… such simple ideas.