If you build it they will come.

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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.
Challenge accepted.
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

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