Wednesday, April 16, 2008

If a crazy person runs around naked in the forest and no one is there to see them do they make a sound?

I was going to call this entry "Keeping it Real", but the other title just seems more attention grabbing. I was reading this book on Prana (Life-force energy) yesterday and really getting into it. It was going on about how the magnetic fields in the body line up with your electric fields and how the main energy channels, your shushumna, Ida and Pingala run up your centre in a sort of spiral design which makes me think of a double helix. And when I finished a chapter I was like, "OMG, that's so cool I have to go tell someone!" At which point I stopped, put it in reverse, reviewed that statement and realized who would I tell that wouldn't find me crazy (Besides other yoga people and they probably already know this stuff).
This has been an ongoing challenge for me and my yoga teaching. I mean when you think about it some form of yoga has been practiced since at least 3000BC. That's older than most world religions. So there's got to be something to this stuff. But I still worry when I start talking about energy channels or breath control that people will get creeped out and turned off yoga. And I don't blame them. I mean before I started this teacher training I would have scoffed at the whole strangeness of it too. I think the important thing I have to point out is that yoga is not a religion, it's a personal practice and they say all through their teachings that if you don't believe what they're saying then try it and see and if it's not true for you that's ok. So at least there's that certain level of freedom. But I still see why devote yogis could be seen as nutty.
Here's one of my experiences with yoga nutty. We do this thing in yoga called one nostril breathing. It's where you plug one nostril and breathe out and in on one side then switch nostrils and do the same on the other side, alternating back and forth. This breath technique is supposed to help calm you and I've also heard it helps oxygenate the opposite hemispheres of the brain. Well when they said that my heels dug in "What? That doesn't make any sense, if breathing through one nostril oxygenates one side of the brain then why not do both at the same time?" So I struggled with that for a while. Plus I hate one nostril breathing cause my one nostril is always plugged. So after letting that put me off the practice for a couple months I asked Jamine, this awesome yoga teacher at Rama Lotus and she said to think about how when you fog a mirror one side fogs up way more then the other because your nostrils are not used equally. By using the technique you improve intake in both nostrils (kind of like how covering your strong eye when you have a lazy eye helps improve the lazy eye's strength), and therefore improve overall oxygen intake. I was like "Oh!" see that makes sense. And it is calming (If you don't have a plugged nose).
So when I move forward with my teaching I'm planning on working towards finding ways to explain yoga practices that aren't too 'woohoo' because it may be something I believe in but if it scares people off yoga then I'm not doing my job. And who knows, maybe if I give people enough time they might not think the full explanations of some practices are crazy. But in the meantime if I start to sound like I'm drinking the purple Kool-aid please feel free to ask me for an explanation based in your reality. I'd enjoy the challenge.