615.419.3604 hilary@activeyoga.com

What Does “Move Energy” Mean in Your Yoga Class?

Energy is shrouded in mystery because we can’t see it. What we see and feel as the materialization of energy can be confusing as well.  Yoga is sometimes described as a method to manage energy. That refers to the energy of thought and intention. The means to that is physical energy because physical gives bodily sensation to something intangible. In yoga we create the sensation of energy by giving it weight. We contract muscles to create force. We synchronize the restriction and release of the muscles in coordination with the breath.  The first weight is made by the windpipe.  The breath becomes sensational and intimate as you orchestrate the narrowing of the windpipe to hear breath and feel it in a pleasing way.   There are also muscle groups that act as sphincters or round muscles. The constriction of those sphincters is sometimes referred to as bandhas.   Bandhas turn on as we create force along the spine, pelvis and shoulders by engaging the muscles of the limbs, buttocks and belly with precision to ignite our posture. The effort of the muscles will have varying effects on our spine depending on the pose. We are not just moving muscles and bones but corralling energy to become form.   Asana is the intensification of awareness. When that awareness dissipates we can escalate the movement of energy by tweaking the posture. We are moving energy. A finished posture is the eye of the storm. Force formed a shape to contain the quiet. Then energy no longer needed weight. You became the sum of that energy for the moment until something shifted...

Tangled Up Inside

Your body is a nervous system, a union of several nervous systems. The nerves transmit electric signals. You are an integration of communicators and receptors. Picture a cinematic disaster with bystanders and emergency responders frantically grasping for answers and direction. Does your body ever feel that way?   You are a bundle of nerves navigating uncharted territory every day. You are under stress. Wires overheat. Circuits go haywire. You want to manage the stress.  If you’ve recognized it you’ve done step one. Now what are the effects of the de-stressor you chose? You are high but is the stress gone? You’ve exhausted your muscles but is the stress gone? You relaxed but is the stress gone? You’ve eaten a cake but is the stress gone?  If not, where is it? Can you repair those hot wires?   Let them cool as you sit with sensation. Consider your choices. Approach as a novice. You are.  Approach as an intuitive being. You are. Test and re-test. It’s your computer lab. You keep the notations.   For your complex energy web.     Save Save...

The Cure is in the Poison

I’ve been hurt by yoga. Poses. Done wrong Imposed upon me By someone else Or me I didn’t go near them again. Not those anyway. But then I did. After a while. And I did them differently like tasting poison that could only kill me if I drank too much or too quickly. And I approached the poses like a frightened animal. Entered the poses remembering the first time and every way I knew they hurt me and I used them to put myself back together the way I was meant to be. Now that I...

Rest the Meat: Experience in Yoga

  I love cooking shows even when they cook meat.  Cooks have a description called resting the meat which stays with me because I’m horrified by the image of eating blood. You let the cooked meat sit before cutting into it so the juices rest back to the flesh. I don’t mind being horrified as much as I enjoy the delights of seasoning, menus and presentation.   I recalled the latest cooking demo as I lead a group of students into a rest between poses one day. I marked a vigorous floor sequence and lay on the floor with them to visualize their rest. I pictured one meat image and then another. I recalled the description falling off the bone to describe tender meat and then the phrase “rest the meat”.   I asked forgiveness for sharing those images but getting real, we are flesh and bone and so…..It was not hard to feel the blood settle in resting flesh that had been squeezed and stretched. With time the bones were liberated toward the floor.   Shocking images wake us up. It’s a bit excessive to relate a subtle inquiry to the body of a butchered and cooked animal but it worked. Hope this works for...

In Yoga Two is One Alone

  Unintentionally there is a disservice in yoga classes. After a student does a pose on one side, that side becomes a standard for the second. I tell my students that expecting one limb to behave like the one on the other side is like telling your kid he should have gotten an A because his brother got one.   Students are taught as if there is a correct way to do a pose but the way offered is that of a factory made doll. We start with the picture of absolute symmetry because it is neutral but in fact that is only a baseline as we are all built differently. Even the relationship of bone lengths differ person to person. And then most of us have experienced injuries that changed relationships again.   Students notice that one side performs or behaves differently than the other. The awareness is less a problem than the work ethic of expecting the other side to be equivalent. When you are on the second arm or leg or the second side of a pose, treat it as if it is not the second but the first. You are still using the same guidelines, going in the same direction. But once differences have been established, by clearing the confusion of comparison your first second side will have a chance to shine.   You are cultivating awareness with discernment which is both sophisticated and subtle.  It takes patience. This is something that comes with experience. Keep going. The journey is often tedious and even boring at times but the rewards come and they are great....

Your Yoga Practice is a Tandem Rowboat Race

The two rowers rowing in ‘tandem‘, need to be well matched and synchronized to make this work. If one pulls too hard or the other not enough, the boat will go off course. You have two of each limb, this many fingers, these toes, matching hips etc. which is why you buy two shoes, two gloves, two legged pants. But they don’t work exactly the same way. They may even look different on close inspection but you don’t notice. It’s like, how long have you had that mole? I don’t know. What mole!   We don’t notice the subtle differences one side to the other because they don’t matter until we are uncomfortable.   The intelligent way to practice yoga when you want to refine your impressions is to work unilaterally.   Divide the body down the spinal line to conquer habit and dullness. Bring your awareness to the skull as well, divided by the bridge of the nose. When you can expand your focus to hold more events at once, you will unite and conquer the same postures that can otherwise be your downfall.   For example, you can spread your collarbones and stop or you can see if one or the other can move again. The one that can move again would not have had the opportunity if you had left it at the first pass. Behind, the shoulder girdle and its muscles will become uneven in effort and tone as well. This will effect the spinal muscles which will effect the pelvis.   The tailbone is an interesting place to consider as well.  You can’t see...