Turning 30 has made me wish even more for the ocean. I happen to be fully intrigued by its greatness, its profound depth and its ability to transform as the moment, place, and the time shifts throughout the day. Today I wake up sensing the sea like a mirror with its unknown immensity and capacity of reflecting our inner unconsciousness.
For the first time I will scuba dive and fortunately accompanied by beloved friends. Those that accompany the follies, those who constantly battle their fears, and recharge themselves with new knowledge and curiosities, those who make dreams realities. I feel these 30 years of life as 30 of opportunities. Today more than ever I am open to continue evolving, battling my fears and finding new dimensions to better living.
It is easy to imagine the feeling of being down under the sea and finding an unknown universe, light changes, and being faced to other cosmic realities. If you think about it, it sounds scary being very deep and acknowledging the insignificance of our own being in the midst of magnum ocean’s greatness.
I see fear as one of our most powerful emotions. A positive one that protects us, turns on the red alert when there is danger, and has the ability of communicating as quickly and efficiently as possible throughout our system. A negative one as the emotion that stops us from going beyond our limits, that blocks our abilities to explore the unexplored, that vanishes our curiosities for the unknown, and often responds by feeding even more our insecurities.
I can sense the way a regular practice of yoga provides handy tools to control the physical reactions to fear and the unbalanced states of the mind. For example, pranayama – the breath control – is able to regulate the increase in blood pressure, slow down a fast paced metabolism, and release muscle tension. A regular yoga practice allows us to clear up and silence the mind, while transforming negative thoughts like fear, into positive ones that inspire us and give us the emotional strength needed to move forward and keep nurturing our paths.
Here I share the Pranayama sequence for beginners taught by Sri O.P Tiwari. I would recommend finding a teacher to adjust the practice according to your breathing capacities and doshic composition. These includes:
>> Nadi Shodhana or alternate nasal breathing, with or without retentions.
>> Ujjayi: victorious breathing by inhaling and exhaling through the nose while making the sound of the ocean accompanied by,
> Surya Bhedan: inhaling through the right and exhaling through the left nostril.
> Kaphalabati followed by Chandra Bhedan—inhaling through the left and exhaling through the right nostril.
> Bhastrika as the combination of one Kaphalabati and one Surya Bhedan.
> Sheeta Li: inhaling by the mouth with the tongue curled and exhaling by both nostrils with retentions for some practitioners.
As an Ashtangi I feel fully passionate about teaching the Ashtanga method in a very gentle and preventious way, by adapting the practice to all students’ needs. I fully believe in the fierceful power of the practice and its capacity to empower our minds to battle our deepest fears. It is crucial to understand the tools used in the Ashtanga method:
Firstly, is the Ujjayi breath that serves the purpose of flowing safely and steadily throughout the practice, while calming the mind, controlling the amount of breath coming in and out, and eventually developing inner awareness and peace.
Secondly, the Bandhas: Mula, Uddiyana, Jalandhara translated into energetic locks or the breaks of the dynamic flow, allow the spine to lengthen safely by engaging key muscles of the body, and stimulating the prana or life energy to upwardly flow throughout the body and feel inner power.
Thirdly, the Drishti or focal point for each pose helps with concentration by setting a point to gaze at, while channelizing the energies, attaining deeper concentration and eventually reaching a meditative state.
The Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga system was created by Sri Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India, the guru that repeatedly said “Practice and all is coming”. One could refer to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, as the base of all dynamic Vinyasa Yoga styles, as its core is the full synchronization of the Ujjayi Pranayama with a set sequence of dynamic poses. Such sequence is set to be detoxifying, as well as anatomically driven to allow the body to gradually warm up, while stimulating a full awareness of our inner weaknesses and our connection to our body in relation with space.
The word Ashtanga means Eight Limbs or steps of practice to attain complete control of our minds, while finding true inner peace and happiness. Inspired by my teachers Linda Munro and Gérald Disse, I recommend starting with the pranayama practice complemented by the physical aspect of the practice (Asanas known as the third limb). What I find the most appropriate is to first find a good teacher that can guide you and teach you the bases of the Ashtanga practice, as the time passes one can set up a daily morning self-practice.
I feel the Ashtanga method allows us to visualize our fears and empower us to work them out. When we live in constant fear, we feed up our insecurities and our lives are governed by an unreal reality—not only from our physical and psychological world, but from our disassociation from our inner world, one that will only create even more confusion in our ways of acting and reacting to the external world.
We dedicate our lives searching for sources of strength, security and happiness. Love and family, friends, pets, professional development, education, unique experiences, yoga, sports, and for some others summing up material belongings. The wise say that when we live without fear we are ready to start living. When we are able to connect with our true reality, we are free of limits and dependancies and our life possibilities are endless, just as the ocean and its unknown universe: pure, happy and peaceful.
For now I will dive and ramble in my greatest gift of life … being under the ocean.
Photos: Carolina Daza @TheGlobalYogini / Graphic design: Butter Nation