Get Loose. Breathe. Wake Up.
As often happens with me when engaging in my own yoga practice at home, a phrase will spontaneously pop into my mind. I welcome these revelations. A recent phrase that visited me was, “Get loose. Breathe. Wake up.” This is not a complicated or particularly obscure phrase. On the contrary, it seems rather succinct and to the point. I am sharing it with you now because it gets to that point so directly without any fuss.
However, getting loose, in the context of Yoga has two aspects–getting loose in the body and getting loose in the mind. Yet, paradoxically, there is really no difference between these two because the body and the mind are not two separate entities. They flow into and complement one another so completely that we cannot truly say that they are two distinct things.
Getting loose in the body is an obvious effect of practicing the Yoga postures, also known as asanas. However, many Yoga practices emphasize engaging in the asana in a way that promotes struggle–holding the body tight, pushing oneself through the asana, and ignoring the importance of the breath. This is certainly not a way to get loose. Yet, when we practice in a way that moves us slowly enough through the asana, it allows us to have the time and the spaciousness to actually feel what is happening in the body. And, when you have the potential to feel the subtlety, it is an extraordinary experience of waking up to your natural grace and openness. Something that I read recently parallels this experience quite perfectly. There is a tribe of Native People, the Haida, who live on the west coast of Canada. It has been said that the verb for making poetry is the same verb they use for breathing. And Yoga when practiced slowly and consciously is a poetry of the body, the spirit, and the emotional heart–each one a stanza in the epic poem of your beautiful True Self.
When we follow the path of the breath through the body and when we move our focus within the practice away from challenging ourselves and toward exploring ourselves, that is when we get loose because we are not trying or struggling. We become open to the surprise of what is happening in our bodies, in our minds, and in our emotions. As we become more relaxed, we become physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually alive and therefore conscious of who and what we truly are. To borrow a well-known statement from Carl Sagan, Yoga is a “voyage of discovery.” This is WAKING UP. It is not a mere exercise routine.
We as individuals become so wedded to the (perhaps instinctual) desire to be right that we close ourselves off, mentally, to what is actually happening in our lives; we simply cannot see the truth because we are so imbedded in the idea of holding onto or achieving what the mind believes should be. This way of living one’s life is a sure way to frustration, anger, and judgementalism which all stand as barriers to waking up. It is the opposite of loose. It is as closed off as a mind can be and as tight as a body can be. It is, in fact, a kind of blindness. One becomes so unconsciously obsessed with “should” that one can be literally unable to see what IS.
To see, feel, and be what IS in any given moment is to Wake Up. To allow yourself to be easy on yourself by not imposing the strictures of society, or the opinions of other people, or the way you were mentally and emotionally taught as a child, or as an adolescent, or as a student is the most freeing action that you can take to liberate yourself to wake up to what is real.
When your body becomes loose in Yoga, your mind becomes loose in life. You–and yes, I mean YOU–have the ability to wake up to the inherent peace and stability and awareness of who you really are when you stop trying to be something other than who you are.
So, get loose, breathe, and see how it feels to wake up!