I love traveling to teach. But sometimes, it can be a real pain-in-the-butt.
Literally. My butt hurts.
Sitting on a plane (or sitting anywhere) can lock up your body in some pretty unpleasant ways. Short hammies. Short hip flexors. Lazy glutes. Tight pecs. An unnatural position for the lumbar spine. Ugh.
In the yoga world we operate with a few concepts that can give insight into how to alleviate arse pain. But it doesn't stop there. Being a yogi I have committed to looking at all 'pain' in my life as an opportunity to learn about myself (yeah, and I'm definitely not perfect at that - but I'm doing my best).
Complimentary opposites - yin and yang, sthira and sukha - give me insight into what I'm sensing and feeling in my life. This principle guides my understanding that everything needs to come into balance for harmony. In Yoga's sister science, Ayurveda, they say 'like attracts like' and 'opposites are medicine'. This is how we help guide the body, and mind, back to homeostasis.
But, in what measure? Well if I was sitting for 8 hours I know innately that the solution isn't to simply stand up for 8 hours.
Instead I can call upon what we know about the samskaras - learned conditions or patterns - for further insight. These are the subtle impressions made by past actions that keep creeping up again - sometimes in pleasant and sometimes in not-so-pleasant ways. Waking up to samskaras asks me to examine not only what the habit is but to dig a little deeper into the root cause. Why do I do what I do? What do I feel the way I feel?
In yoga, the examination of samskara is offered in a macro level context - over the course of our lifetime. What a daunting task it can be to examine personal idiosyncrasies and the impact on an entire life! WOOF! That's heavy. How would anyone even start developing awareness?
What if the practice of WAKING UP started with shorter - bite sized - cause and effect? For example looking at the unwanted effect of a stiff body, pain in the tush, and an uncomfortable low back from an airplane seat. What's the cause there? The 'why' for all the suffering when it comes to prolonged sitting is the amount of time you sit there. It's the duration of the immobility that causes the harm - not the seat in itself. In fact if you did repetitive seats for the same amount of time you'd be doing squats and call that exercise!
If you want a literal opportunity to relieve sitting pain - tune into my Anti-Airplane Flow - and enjoy a 30 minute practice that opens the hamstrings, hip flexors and chest, while putting strength back into the glutes and spinal muscles and brings overall fluidity back into the body.
If you want to apply this idea of micro-level cause and effect as a practice of the larger endeavor of unwinding the wheel of samskara start simple. Look at small pains in your life. Likewise, look at small victories in your life! Instead of taking those symptoms - those effects - at a surface level, be open to more inquiry. WHY is this happening? What is your role in that? Is it within your control? Is it permanent? What can you learn from it?
This is the practice. This is why we practice. Not for fancy poses or perfected alignment. We practice to WAKE UP. We practice to become more aware of what we are feeling, understand our role in that, and develop the capacity to stay with ourselves long enough to stay present.
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