We all have limitations. The spirit incarnating into a human body presents us with a set of limitations from day one. But, we need not view limitations as the antithesis of freedom. As we look more deeply, we find that limitation is the form within which we create. In fact, if we did not set limitations we could not create!
The painter has the physical limitations of the brush, the paints and the canvas. Within these specific parameters, a beautiful work of art can be created. A musician's artistic expression is limited by the scope of the instrument and the musician's ability. The writer's ideas and visions are expressed within the limitations of words.
If, for example, you would like to write a book, and everyday you think about it, but make no structure within which to create it, that book will never come into existence. However, if you set aside some time every day to work on your book, you have set the boundaries needed for manifesting your dream.
How do we work with limitations in our yoga practice?
Our bodies are manifestations of our beliefs and experiences. What we accept as truth becomes a part of our physical self. All that exists as well as all that was created by mankind was first a thought. The energy that we give to a particular thought will spur its growth, bringing it into manifestation on the physical plane.
We can choose to manifest our thoughts consciously, but most often we are manifesting our thoughts unconsciously. By doing so, we give away our power and allow that power to flow at the whim of our unconscious mind. Things manifest in our lives and we may have "no idea how that could have happened to me?" But what happens to our more intense thoughts and emotions that, for whatever reason, do not get expressed? These feelings have to go somewhere and most likely, we "stuff" them away in some part of our body creating constrictions, tightness and tension.
Limitation is the vessel that gives form to our creations or our creative self. In yoga, we explore the limitations of a posture by finding our edges - the place where anything more would be too much, but anything less would not be enough. We work to infuse every cell with awareness, which serves to bring us more fully into the present moment. As we explore our limitations more deeply in asana we may ask, "What is that tightness in my hamstring muscle all about? Is it the anger and resentment I felt as a child that I was not able to release? Have I become so used to this feeling in my body that I have accepted this tightness as normal? Is that tightness in my shoulders and my sunken chest my way of protecting my spiritual heart?"
The goal is to move through that tightness with awareness, gently softening and releasing. When we breathe deeply and consciously, softening tension and tightness in the body, we create more room, more opening. We allow prana , that vital life-force energy to move through us, moving into those places of constriction that may have been denied this energy for a long, long time.
The limitations of the body can be viewed as our teacher, encouraging us to be creative. If we can't do a pose because of injury or "deformity," how can we creatively work with the energy of that particular posture to come up with a modified version that suits our particular needs? We learn about the tightness that we carry and perhaps discover how it came into being.
All the "NO's" we receive in our life -- from others and from ourselves -- we may find manifesting in the body as constriction in the muscles or shallow breathing. Have we limited ourselves to our parent's idea of who we should be, or are we pursuing our dream - our life's passion? The body poses so many questions -- yet within its muscles, tendons, fascia, bones and the very cells themselves, hold so many answers. We just need to take the time to explore and to listen.Andrea Garvey is a certified yoga instructor in the lineage of the Himalayan Yogis. Teaching yoga for over 20 years, she facilitates special yoga workshops focusing on the Chakra system. Andrea is also, a Certified Holistic Health Counselor, 2nd degree Reiki Practitioner, Raindrop Technique Practitioner and along with her husband Neil is the Publisher of Creations Magazine.
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