Janet’s Yoga News - January 2015

With the passing of another year the concept of time takes on special significance. We reflect on the year which has gone in terms of what happened that was positive and what could have gone better. Beginning a new year gives us a fresh start and we look at ways to make constructive changes in our lives both on a personal and professional level.

Time is typically conceived of in two ways: scientific and psychological. Scientific time is related to the expansion of the universe as it progresses from the Big Bang and as such is absolute. Psychological time is a measure of our accumulated experience. Each moment adds to experience and provides a broader perspective for experiencing the next moment. Living in the moment while practicing yoga links the ongoing legacy of the past with the promise of the future while experiencing the joy of the present; all within the context of an expanding universe.

Time is a difficult concept to define as it is not directly perceived. We are all aware of how long a 5 minute Sirsasana (head balance) can be compared to how short a 15 minute Savasana (relaxation pose) can be. In the practice of yoga much of our struggle in the asanas is due to the fact that our bodies hold on to past experiences. These may be of a physical or psychological nature. Any physical activity which we do on a regular basis has an effect on the body. Examples of this could be playing a musical instrument or some sport. On a psychological level, when we meet with a fearful experience for example, we may adjust our posture to protect ourselves. This protective reaction creates tension in the physical body. Once these habits of the body become ingrained, they feel normal to us. The asanas being neutral positions in a sense make it necessary for the Sadhaka to meet these physical holding patterns. Our Guruji says that all asanas are versions of Tadasana (basic standing pose); this being the case we endeavor to execute the asana in its pure form - without distortion the body.

For more information on this subject, look at "The Core of the Yoga Sutras" by BKS Iyengar. In that book he has a chapter entitled: 'How an Asana Should be Done'. The first sentence states: "Whatever asana one performs, it should not distort the normal or original structure of the anatomical body." He unfolds this topic in a very enlightening way throughout the chapter. In terms of the "mind existing in the future" we are all familiar with worrying about a future event which may never happen. Within the framework of some rational plan to take care of possible future events, exists the agitated mind which becomes obsessed with things which are very unlikely to occur. In the teachings of yoga, the mind is referred to as a good friend but also an enemy - often leading us to negative places. The way of practicing yoga as taught to us by BKS Iyengar - as a form of meditation, is certainly a path to bring us into the moment - body and mind - over TIME.

Wishing you and yours a very prosperous 2015 and if you are planning any New Year's resolutions, it is important to remember that the future is unpredictable.