Friday, June 10, 2011

Radical Self Affirmation

I had a really good day today.

I got up early and made it to the airport around 6am. All of my travels were uneventful and I made it to my hotel here in Silver Spring, Maryland in time to spend some time with Suzie Hurley and get settled in before the class tonight. We had a good turnout this evening for a Level 1-2 class called The Yoga of Yes! We worked a lot on Inner Body Bright and creating spaciousness and courage in order to say Yes fully to all that life asks of us. We did good strong, detailed work in basic poses with some surya namaskar variations, crescent, utkatasana, parsvakonasana, parighasana, bharadvajasana and pranayama.

The overall theme of the weekend is Radical Self Affirmation which is a favorite topic of mine. To me, the whole idea that radical doesn't mean "far out" or "wild" or anything like that. Radical means "of or pertaining to the roots". Radical Affirmation is more about the willingness to affirm, to say "yes" to, who we most truly are- to what is at the root of our identity, that is- than it is about anything wild, fringe-y or extreme. Radical Self Affirmation also asks us to say "yes"to the ways we might be hiding our light, limiting ourselves and blocking our greatness through outdated patterns, strategic manipulations and unconscious tendencies.

And when it comes to that shadowy stuff, the paradox is that we can not actually move beyond it until we say yes to it. The amazing thing is that saying "yes" to our less-than-stellar traits is actually a gesture of self-acceptance and clarity and begins to create a more spacious relationship to those aspects that can help us be less identified with them. We can see those things as patterns and beliefs, for instance, not as who we are. We can begin to see our behaviors as distinct from our radical, root source of light. If we look at what really lives underneath all the psychic energy we have wrapped up in hiding our shortcomings from ourselves and others or pretending we do not have shadow elements in our psyche and behavior, we see that in some way we are identified with those things and on some level we haven't faced ourselves fully, seen ourselves clearly and accepted the fullness of who we are. If, instead, we can say "yes I, am behaving in a jealous way" or "yes, I am feeling angry" or "yes, I am feeling insecure" then that moment of clarity and self-acceptance can yield a spaciousness that can provide us with a sense of detachment where we see the pattern for what it is- as something distinctly NOT US. And the cool thing is that the spaciousness of self-acceptance, of saying yes- even to the ugly stuff- can actually give us the courage to do the work we need to to get closer to the Light within us. Of course that is not the whole story but it is some of it.

So we worked with spaciousness and courage paired up with strong work to open the sides of the torso, to expand the ribs and make the Inner Body Bright and then worked into the hips with Inner and Outer Spiral a bit. It was a great class and because the students at the studio here are so well-trained and well-educated, it was a "preaching to the choir" kind of experience for the most part. I looked up and saw how good everyone's form was so while we stayed on the basic syllabus we did a lot with details, refinements and repetition. I was really pleased with what I offered as well as how it was received.

And another great thing is that we do not start class tomorrow until afternoon so I can sleep in and do a practice in the morning which will feel wonderfully luxurious!

And here is me giving a short talk in Hawaii about some concepts that inform my lastest book, My Body Is a Temple: Yoga as a Path to Wholeness.


emma @ said...

I enjoyed this post a lot, to accept ALL parts of one's self is really the moving towards wholeness and freedom.
I also am excited to read your book!

shikha said...

i enjoyed this blog so much .i am exited to read your book.
Yoga retreat