More Wisdom & Inspiration: Inner Attention

Pleasure vs. Joy

Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within. – Eckhart Tolle

Practicing Mechanically vs with the Mind Fully Present

Many people repeat what they have learned in the past, and their presentation of asanas becomes mechanical, which causes the body and mind to stagnate. An asana is not a posture that can ever be assumed mechanically. You must always animate and create interest in what you are doing. To illustrate my point, I will sometimes assume a standing asana in front of class and I will tell them that I have done a perfect asana. It has no defect. It is perfect in appearance – but dead inside. My mind is elsewhere. Then I redo the asana with my mind fully present. I create unity within me, and I make them see the attention of legs, torso, and senses. They are perceptively different. – B.K.S. Iyengar

Practitioners Develop Finer and Finer Perception

The more yoga you do—especially if you complement it with various forms of bodywork—the deeper your ability to sense your inner experience becomes. Yoga practitioners frequently discover that they develop finer and finer perception in areas of the body where they previously felt little. B.K.S. Iyengar calls this phenomenon awakening intelligence in the body. – Timothy B. McCall

How Asana Is Experienced with Paralysis

I can’t lift my legs. I can’t flex the muscles. But I feel a hum, a tingling, a buzz. My yoga practice is trying to understand the asanas. The instructions in an asana are intended to amplify your connection to that hum, and I don’t mean this in a touchy-feely New Age way. I literally mean there’s a hum. Because of my paralysis, I understand and appreciate that the sound Om is actually calibrated to that buzz, to that hum. So my yoga practice is trying to watch how alignment and precision amplify that hum through both my paralyzed and unparalyzed body. – Matthew Sanford

Visuals for “Deliberate Exploration”

Erich Schiffman offers visuals to help describe how to “deliberately explore” while in poses:

Think of massage. When someone asks you to massage their neck or shoulders, your job is to look for the tight and tender spots and then rub. You rub the whole area and you deliberately “flirt” with the sore spots. These knots of tension are the contracted areas of your energy field you are attempting to undo, expand and open. You do not go directly into them and press as hard as you can. You approach them with care, coming at them from various angles, circling the areas, and pressing with varying intensities. In this way, you gradually erase the soreness.

In yoga you do exactly the same thing. Using the pose as a map you deliberately explore, looking for all the tight, weak, unbalanced and sore spots you can find within that area of yourself. You then flirt with the tight spots by breathing into them and stretching them with various intensities. You intuitively make subtle internal adjustments as you deliberately look for even the smallest hint of tension. This is like going through your garden and pulling out the weeds. Eventually you’ll have only baby weeds and your work will get easier. When you are really weed-free, the poses feel clean and there will be a feeling of free-flowing unobstructed energy. This is something you will want to do once you get a feeling for it.” – Erich Schiffman