The Language of your body
Words by Nicole Rubio
What is an intelligent yoga practice?
Nicole Rubio asks us to listen to the subtle language of yoga.
Have you considered asana as a language? Its sounds, shapes, and textures speak through you and within you. What may begin as a high-pitched conversation between yourself and Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) can steadily deepen in tone. Listening intently to what is being spoken beyond, within, and through yourself, you begin to understand the practice, the power, and its meaning.
The call of this ancient verse resounds in every moment of your practice. Reaching back through the ages, through rivers and tides of all that have gone before, it calls on all that is known, all that has been, and floods the body. Yoga is a power that is introduced moment-by-moment, layer-by-layer, into all parts of your body and mind.
What starts as an intention on the mat becomes a continuum of awareness in the way you live your life. Where Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) begins, you find an unending source of knowledge. As Plough Pose (Halasana) unfolds, you discover diamond clarity. The depths and ‘mind-free-ness’ of Corpse Pose (Shavasana) spreads itself into all poses, all places. Yoga reveals itself as being alive in your system, your skin, in your thoughts and actions.
What begins as foreign, through practice and dedication, becomes familiar, fluent. Every move you make, each time you create and recreate a shape in this physical form, it is teaching directly the language of the pose that you are undertaking. Practicing quietly, intently, you become receptive to hearing the subtleties, the slight accents.
Where Tree Pose (Vrksasana) initially showed imbalance, over time you align with the nature of this pose and find yourself steady. As turmoil is encountered in your day-to-day life, Vrksasana’s vibration is present and you are not as easily swayed or upset. You integrate the power of the pose on the mat and live the richness of its character off the mat.
When you allow your body to let go and simply receive the fullness of yoga, it can engulf you. You begin to radiate the purity of this practice. No longer ‘doing’ yoga, instead you embody yoga. The Mountain Pose (Tadasana) you learn on the mat creeps in to your posture as you queue in the supermarket. It starts little by little, no longer slouching as you wait. Sometime later, it’s no longer comfortable to lean into one hip.
Over time you discover that your stance is more akin to Tadasana, that your body has adopted its alignment. This is how you find yourself and the pose becoming one. The beauty of yoga is that this can happen in a subtle way, without your knowing at first. Time can go by before you realise that the way you feel in your body, the way you sit and stand are all now different. Over time, returning again and again to a pose, you find more fluency in your form. Versed in its nuances and intonations, you become natural at speaking, hearing, and listening to this ancient call. Through sincerity, through rightful intention and commitment, you open a pathway for the language of the past to be embodied within the cells of the present. The power of this practice begins to appear as you walk to work, in your posture, in the way you move in and understand your body. The character of each pose becomes the nature of your experience. As your Uttanasana becomes more flexible, so too does your personality. Where once there was tension, you begin to find ease. In the spaces freed from contraction, you can discover a deeper connection with self and oneness.
When you allow your body to let go and simply receive the fullness of yoga, it can engulf you. You begin to radiate the purity of this practice. No longer ‘doing’ yoga, instead you embody yoga. Let it fill your cracks, your pores and creases so that it may break up and lift the accumulated past that has come to rest in the muscles and joints. As these layers of gathered past come to the surface, they shed in their own manner, often looking like an imbalance or upset within the emotional, mental, or physical aspects of one’s self. When this happens, keep going. They have simply risen to be released and in doing so, create more space for the power of the practice, the richness of yoga to lay its wisdom, its alignment.
Each time you visit a pose and allow the tension, the contraction, and the holding to soften, you allow a void to exist within that form. At some point, this void of emptiness has more life, more freedom, than the patterns of holding and tension that once existed there. The language spoken by the body becomes lighter, softer, more open, and ultimately, speaks of nothing. No thing. This is what the experience of yoga has to teach: how to exist in a form, a shape, as apparently ‘doing’ something, with the essence of no-thing filling the interior.
If you forge on into your practice, into the poses, there is a sense of conquering a pose, owning yoga. You can be caught up with holding something, looking like that, or sounding like this. Pushing and pulling you wrestle with your body, laying down more tension, filling up spaces with the need to control and force.
Understand that the pose is already complete, its form and power already exist. If you struggle with trying to make the body imitate a shape, you don’t align with the intelligence of the pose, and you certainly don’t operate from your own conscious awareness. You then miss out on hearing where a slight move here, or some lengthening there, is required. The pose asks you to gradually adopt its flavours over time and integrate its essence from your depths; not fling yourself into some tightened version of a twodimensional copy.
A practice that reflects hardness is unforgiving, it’s insensitive to your needs, whether that’s a stiff ankle, a stressful day, or even a broken heart. A hard practice can miss what is being shown internally. You overlook what the pose itself has to teach, what the practice is actually offering. You forgo the opportunity to release tension, and to discover ultimately what your practice has to teach. The effect of a conscious practice is always the same: to purify the system, to exist within your full potential, to radiate self. These are the voiceless words coursing through you whenever you visit the mat. They are the resounding echoes that continue long after you have stepped off the mat. The language of yoga is spoken from within; the more it is heard, the more it can be spoken through your day-to-day activities. Feel it, hear it, see it, sense it. It’s made in the symbols and shapes of your body – in the texture of your skin, in the emptiness of your being, and in the respectful silence that reveals a lineage connected to ancient past and the present moment. Every moment of your yoga practice is communicating itself from the depths of ages. All you need do is quietly listen, intelligently practice.
Disclaimer: The text presented on these pages is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. AYL encourages readers to attend their local yoga school to gain a greater understanding of this information. Personal instruction from a teacher will enhance this information. Do not use this information to treat any health problems. Please consult your healthcare provider if you are in any doubt regarding any of this information. All information is copyright. Please request permission to use. The information by the contributing writers is their personal opinion and may not represent the views of the publisher.
The article is sourced from the Australian Yoga LIFE archives