Yoga, as I am sure you all know by now is translated as unity, connection, oneness. It invites us not only to connect with ourselves, but with our environment, and communities.
We cant be truly connected without compassion, however. Compassion is the strength to centre others experiences not just our own, to contemplate realities that are different from how we experience reality, and to desire that all share in the joy's of life despite any differences we might have.
Self compassion is a way of connecting with ourselves. It is a way to acknowledge parts of us we may fear, or dislike, or perceive don't fit in with a projected norm. Connection and compassion are circular. We cant connect with ourselves without self compassion, and without self compassion it is hard to extend compassion to others.
I've become very interested lately in how I take compassion and self compassion from more than a good idea and into an embodied experience. How can I live self compassion?
I'm so grateful for this yoga practice. As I've been exploring embodied compassion it's become clear that the fascia - the connective tissue is such an important system for this. There are some who reckon our consciousness resides in our fascia. It's an interesting idea. The fascia wraps, holds and sustains our organs, bones and muscles. The fascia responds to hydration, like fluffing pillows, gentle movements allow us to find easeful ways of moving. I've noticed that moving along the different facial lines can help ease my pain, increase feelings of contentment and help to truly embody self compassion.
Skillful yoga practices are often skillful because of the way we layer or combine mindfulness techniques with how we move. Here are my top three ways I've been using to embody compassion using yogic techniques:
1. Use intention. (San- kalpa).
Practicing movement while repeating a particular word to wish to embody, such as equanimity, joy etc can bring this to the forefront when moving. We all know instinctively words are powerful. Unkind words from others hurt. Unkind words to ourselves hurt too. It makes sense then that kind words soothe, inspire and motivate. Repetition of words that inspire compassion can be so powerful to invoke those feelings to all of our cells.
Watch out for habitual patterns of movement. The simple act of paying attention is our most powerful tool.
Knowledge is power. When we know how we move we can make choices and apply discernment. How can we be more varied in our movement diet? What to I need less of? What soothes and calms?
3. Regulate the nervous system with the breath.
It is hard to be compassionate if we are activated in the hind part of the brain and are in survival mode of flight/ flight. From this place many things look and feel like a threat. The breath helps us befriend the nervous system so it can switch off as well as on, and helps bring us to a feeling of peace, calm and yes, compassion for ourselves and others.
This term in classes I invite you to share this exploration of embodied compassion with me. We will use a range of movement, self massage and mindfulness techniques from yoga and mind body somatic practices.
I am offering an 8 week term one class on Thursday evenings for $95. ( $90 concession). For those familiar with my classes you know that I rely on verbal cues, invitations for you to explore and find your own way, rather than visual cues. Nor do I generally offer hands on assists, as it is much more powerful for you to find your own way of being in your body, nor do I (or anybody else for that matter) know what the " correct" way a pose should look like in your body.
I really hope you can join me
Maureen loves exploring the philosophy of yoga, here are some of her thoughts on her yoga practice