I’ve always been a morning person. That’s useful these days, because my life is quite busy. Often, the only chance to get a Yoga practice in is first thing in the morning. It’s not uncommon for me to get up at 4AM. This is very early – and it feels very early at the time! – but it does mean that I can get a really good Yoga practice, perhaps even go to an early Hot Yoga class, and still do a day of work and family life. I just find I go to bed earlier.
Discussing this with someone recently, they said: “If my alarm went off at 4AM, I’d just snooze it”. And I just thought: well, nothing changes if we snooze the alarm all the time.
People come to Yoga and Hot Yoga for a variety of reasons: they want to be stronger, they want to recover from injury, they need to relax and de-stress, and many more. Most boil down to a feeling that something is not right at the moment, and that Hot Yoga can help remedy things.
These people are lucky. They’ve recognised that a change of some kind is needed. Instinct (or helpful friends) have mentioned how useful Yoga is, and so they’ve come to the Yogafurie studio. We’re allowing ourselves to find and go with positive change, whenever we show up for our Hot Yoga class.
Some people aren’t so lucky. They have an idea that change is needed, but are not yet ready. For whatever reason, they “snooze the alarm”.
Now we’ve all been like that, we’ve all had situations that we simply didn’t own and fix. Usually, the problems just get bigger and we look back wishing we’d been more proactive. But sometimes we’re just not, and that’s the way it is. The rest of this blog just talks very briefly at why we might act like that, and how Yoga can help.
Classical Chinese medicine talks about “Three Treasures”: our personal energy (Qi or Chi), our spirit (Shen) and that certain something that makes us just who we are – our essence (Jing).
Jing is more than just character: it’s dynamic, an active and energetic expression and availability to do things, our way. Our kidneys are pretty essential to everyday life: they issue hormones that affect our heart function and govern how we do stress. If you buy into any of these ideas, then you’ll see why acupuncture sees the Kidney as the home of Jing: how you’re going to be right now is determined in the kidney. Us Westerners could understand that from a chemical/ hormone point of view.
Shen and spirit – there are so many ways we could talk about spirit. But in this context, it’s not anything religious. It’s not a soul. Rather, it’s more like your personal power or agency that accounts for the life you create through your actions. It’s seen as based in the heart. Have you ever felt like you “poured your heart into” something you did? Or maybe you “didn’t have the heart” to do something? At least in language, we recognise that the heart drives a lot of what we do.
Qi (Chi) is more than just energy. Glucose is energy, and the same glucose runs through the blood to the hands and to the feet. But hands and feet do very different things: there’s some kind of organisation or direction to how energy is used. There’s an intelligence. Qi is the energy and the intelligence to use it well.
If I find that I’m “snoozing my alarm”, then it’s likely that my essence is depleted, or my spirit is tired, or my energy is being wasted in an unintelligent way. In my mind, I’ll have lots of really valid reasons for ignoring problems. And they are valid reasons: time is short, money is tight, etc etc. But really, it’s not about solving particular problems: what’s important is that I restore my vitality. The alarm is only going to get louder…
Yin Yoga links very well with the principles of Classical Chinese Medicine. In our Hot Yin Tonic class, we’re able to spend time talking about some of these ideas (briefly – we’re there to practice!) We gear the movements up to follow and stimulate specific meridian routes. Hot Yin Tonic is a Yogafurie Hot Yoga class in Bristol, and it runs at 42o C.
Of course, I’m “preaching to the converted” by the time someone makes it to a Yogafurie class in Bristol. What can we do to motivate people to just get to the studio?
Many people want a work-out. They like the exertion, and they feel that hard exercise will help them become healthy. It’s important for Yoga studios to meet people where they are, and then help these people to recognise and work with their own unique constitution. Good breath really is the foundation. So, stronger Vinyasa styles – such as Yogafurie’s Classic or Fierce Furie classes, or Core Deep – can also nourish our three treasures, as long as we focus on clear, steady breathing and allow ourselves to take breaks/ take less demanding versions of asana, whenever we feel the need. It is a fine balance, because Yoga isn’t like gym exercise. Yoga is curative and transformational at every level of the body-mind. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
I’d like to close with references to some useful articles. The first discusses the long-term impact on energy, essence and spirit from excessive use of cannabis. The second looks at the relationship between healthy spirit (Shen) and a healthy mind.