RESOURCES FOR THE MODERN YOGI

Dribble Into Uncharted Territory

Posted by: on Dec 8, 2013 | No Comments
Dribble Into Uncharted Territory
Image from @millieamazingxx

Being a Knicks fan can be as painful as doing Urdvha Dhanurasana cold. With the proper sequence, you know it can feel so exhilarating, but with the wrong set-up, it’s just excruciating. I blame my husband for getting me wrapped up in this tumultuous relationship with the New York Knicks. Dribble my heart up and down the floor why don’t you Mello?

Going into this year’s playoffs we were poised for some exciting wins, but, instead, we came home from the 5th game of the first series broken. “Are they champions? Or are they just entitled and over-paid? They’re in uncharted territory now, and they are going to need to dig deep and find out who they are if they are going to pull this off against Boston,” my husband commentated. So insightful!

Uncharted territory: Some of us seek it out, some of us avoid it, but whether we like it or not, we all find ourselves in it eventually.

Being in the state of not-knowing, naturally means we will try to get our bearings. We have our current skill set based on our past experiences, but when we take leaps of faith and move into unknown places, we often have to pause.

I wonder… Can what occurs in these pauses be the difference between fulfillment and disappointment?

If the pause has hesitation, insecurity and uncertainty, and the pause sets up the shot – will the shot we take be off? If the pause has poise, courage and confidence, and the pause sets up the shot – will the shot be more likely to go in? What if the pause is conceited or arrogant? What if it’s simply full of curiosity? I’d love to know what flashes through someone’s mind when they take and make a winning shot. Does it suspend the language mechanism all together?

The wise old yogis often talk about “the pause” in-between the inhales and the exhales as being a place of mystery and union.

“Retention after inhalation is the union of the lover with his beloved… Retention after exhalation is the beloved uniting with the lover in total surrender to the supreme… Pranayama is more than a physiological breathing exercise. Because breath is life, the art of judicious, thoughtful, ungreedy breathing is a prayer of gratitude we offer life itself.”
– B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life

That’s right – I just correlated The Knicks to Pranayama. Talk about putting a little east in your west!

Yoga class is all about exploring uncharted territory. Eddie Stern recently pointed out in a lecture at AYNY that in the asana practice we are moving our bodies into “purposeful positions that help us to explore the deeper dimensions of our personal experience.” How beautiful is that? Asana and Pranayama allow us to become more familiar with the experience of being lost, uncomfortable, in transition, and AWAKE in the state of not-knowing.

Here is a little breathing exercise  that you can do to become more confident with the pauses in your life:

Kapala Bati

This is a classic breathing technique where you emphasize your exhale. It is a lot like dribbling your breath and it helps to cleanse the body and mind of tension, worry and insecurity.

  • Sit comfortably
  • Make two peaceful fists, like you have just caught lightning bugs in the palm of your hands and you don’t want to squash them.
  • Place the fists at the temples of your belly. (Two or three inches below your naval to the right and left side.)
  • Inhale easily
  • Begin to exhale sharply through your nose drawing the temples of your belly in & back & up as you exhale. The inhales will be almost unnoticeable and come in naturally. It feels a lot like dribbling a basketball. You bounce the ball down (You exhale) and the ball naturally rebounds back up (Inhale). The exhales will be more pronounced than the inhales.
  • Maintain a peaceful expression in your hands, your throat and on your face throughout the exercise.
  • Do this for 3 rounds of 20 breaths at first and eventually build up to 2 rounds of 108 breaths.
  • On your last exhale of each round let the out-breath be long and deliberate.
  • Breathe freely for a few minutes when you’ve finished each round and observe the pauses (called kumbhaka). Just observe them: When are they long? When are they short? When do they feel courageous? When do they feel insecure?

And while you’re at it, please keep The Knicks in your intentions, won’t you?

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