Pranayama. Pratyahara. Dharana. Dyana. Karma. Chakras. My brain feels as if its about to explode from my attempts to understand these concepts intellectually. I’m grateful that Master Paalu recognised a pattern in my behaviour, and that is, to over-analyse when new information is presented to me. He’s right. Of course. I can’t think about the thing I want to understand. I must do it. Do the thing and then the understanding will come.
The reason I am an abstract expressionist artist is because I need to paint to make sense of this world. I absorb, I observe, I feel, I reflect, I internalise and then I paint. The brush lands on the canvas and the paint tumbles forth, colours collide and layers build and as I work, the awareness comes. The world makes sense, or it doesn’t, but there is acceptance either way.
Its the same with last 4 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. I have practiced Kapala Bhati, Anuloma Viloma and Uddiyana Bandha every morning at 6am since the start of the course, and I have struggled. Particularly with Anuloma Viloma. My mind wanders, I bring it back, it goes again and I lose count. I stop. I start. I try to focus on the breath but I feel uncomfortable. Not physically, just like I don’t want to be there. In that moment. Within myself. So I try again. I count to 3 rounds, I’m ok… I get to 4, 5… 6 and there it goes, wandering. Its gone. I’m elsewhere and I give up. When I get to class we begin Nadi Shodana – the same pranayama but with retention of the breath. I am focussed, I want to do it, but after 4 rounds I start to feel nausea in the pit of my stomach and I can’t continue… I look around the room and my classmates are deep within themselves, breathing, lengthening. I tell myself I can do it, I try again. I fail. I feel physically sick and slightly anxious. So I stop.
A yoga teacher once told me that what you dislike the most in your practice, is what you should spend the most time with. I could hear her words as I accepted defeat. Master Paalu then observed that I had energy blocks that needed to be released before I could fully engage in this pranayama, and that in fact, the only way to clear them was by doing Nadi Shodana. For 3 months. Every day. The thing I hate.
That’s pranayama, pratyahara and dharana right there. And my brain didn’t explode. In the words of W.P Kinsella, “If you build it they will come.”
Skye, 200hr YTT February 2016