I teach a hatha yoga class I call Santosha that translates from the Sanskrit as joy, contentment, equipoise, serenity. It’s one of the principles of living a yogic life, “to be content with what is.” We reach joy by many paths. Acceptance is the biggest highway, the fastest thoroughfare to get a person to joy. But if you’re just starting out, let’s first discuss how I teach basic yoga, the ABCDs … Always Breathe, engage the Core, and be aware of your Drishti. Then we’ll get to the chakras, the more “elevated” of the consciousness highways (or, as Elon Musk reveals now about his concept of deeply tunneled highways, “the boring way” haha! tunnels/boring, get it; and kudos to this brilliant mind, Elon!).
Here is a quick review of LordFlea’s (teZa Lord’s) ABCDs of living aware and awake.
First about awareness (being alive!), we connect to our Breath. Then we engage the Core, the mulabandha, the “lock” that’s internal that’s also called engaging the perineum, or pelvic floor (in medical terms). The core, in yoga, is NOT the external set of ab muscles. Those six-pack muscles (totally achievable in yoga — if you wish/need them) are not any indication whatsoever that a person has a strong core, believe me. A yogi/ni’s true core strength is invisible to others. But it’s strong as steel for any seasoned practitioner.
The Drishti is a person’s focus, exhibited outwardly by where your eyes focus, and how your expression looks to others. A little upturned corners of the mouth, buddha-like, helps make the face appear pleasant. If our face has a pleasant expression , we feel more relaxed, and respond inwardly, emotionally. A simple facial-shift (from unhappy to “fake” happy) expression works! Just think of how a person’s scowl or down-turned mouth turns us off.
I exchange yoga for Spanish lessons (me gusto mucho hablarnos la idioma con el maestro y todos mis amigos latinos y espanoles!). But my tutor grunts and scowls when I make an error, completely throwing me off my game.I freeze. I feel stupid. He doesn’t mean to. He’s just … not aware of how his “look affects me.” I hope he’s reading this … and stops, Thank you very much. There’s no need to make faces at one another unless we’re trying to scare our enemies. Like the Maoris do/did with their fierce looks.
but … look what I, LordFlea did with the Maori “look” for my facial makeup in my consort’s eco-film “Lithium Springs” for my Mother Nature character. A bit more pleasant, wouldn’t you say?
In Santosha yoga class I remind people to pick one exact spot (on floor, wall, even on my body if they want to look my way). This fixed place is the drishti point of the eyes. I remind them also to focus on their breath; this is the internal drishti point. So even if our eyes are closed, we have a connection going with our drishti when we’re in the “yoga groove.” We don’t have to be practicing poses to be there, of course not! Before an important event, for instance, I press my “third eye” — that spot between my brows, which to me is like a spiritual “button” that activates my connection to Higher Power, or Aum (Om). Or, as my indigenous brothers and sisters (yes, I am one, too) say — to honor Great Spirit in our lives.
Now we’re in the “yoga groove” as I call higher consciousness. Rooted to the earth (imagine fibers coming out of your spine, anchoring you to the ground (floor, or seat) you are upon, yet being lifted sky-high by an “invisible puppeteer” (I think of Great Spirit as I say these words to my class) who reaches down from the cosmos, and pulls pulls pulls up your spine, extending your posture as far as the muscles, ligaments, tendons will let your vertebrae stretch. Ahhhhh, the yoga groove.
Now we’re ready to go into a deeper connection to what, exactly, is happening during a yoga practice.
You don’t have to be doing any poses to be living yogically, y’know. All you have to do is want to be more conscious. Don’t forget … Buddha himself (Prince Siddhartha of ancient times, 2,000 years before Christ) was a yogi. The religion of Buddhism is a formal carrying-on, dissemination, gathering of his teachings. But Buddha’s main purpose of performing asanas (poses) and meditation (dyana) was to … be one with, yup, you got it! Great Spirit! The cosmic puppeteer, so to speak.
When we start becoming aware of energy within us, that gets naturally activated (as we live, or as we practice breathing, doing asanas, cooking our meals) we can start to “feel” how this energy changes us. I’ll give you an example of my own experience.
In early childhood I was plagued with scoliosis, probably the result of having fallen out of a very tall tree. I was a complete and utter daredevil tomboy, even back then, could you guess? My parents sent me to whatever doctors, chiropractors, they could. But nothing helped. By the time I got to college I was begging friends to pull my legs as hard as they could as I held onto a windowsill — anything! to stretch out my spine and lessen the teeth-grinding, debilitating (painful to even walk!) nerve crunching going on in my lower sacrum. And then ….
One day someone suggested “try yoga.” It was the late sixties. There were no yoga classes that I knew of. So I went and bought a book. From which I taught myself how to slowly do basic poses. The sun salute. All 12 poses in which I did, one by one, from looking at the book’s picture. And a headstand. From a book. Carefully. Hands here. Head here. Knees here, etc. Until … I could do a complete sun salute and a headstand without looking at the book.
And by the time I learned that, y’know what? My spinal pain had — magically! — disappeared. Completely and utterly.
This, my friends is how powerful, how real, how healing, and important it is to understand how energy works — and work with it — if you want to keep expanding your awareness.
So now let’s talk about the very first chakra (wheel) of energy in the science of yoga. This first center of energy is located at the base of the spine, in exactly the same area where my scoliosis was/is/always shall be located. My yoga practice just keeps the pain at bay. So I’m forced to (lucky me!) have a continued practice. Because if I let up with yoga poses for, say, two weeks — bam! — I’m right back in pain city. Once the bones have been thrown off their tracks, it’s the development of strong muscles and other fascia that keep them in proper working order, so nerves don’t get pinched. The sacrum is exactly where my scoliosis pain originates.
The first chakra, at the very base of the spine (the sacrum), is also called the “root chakra.” This is because it’s at the very beginning of the spine, and in yoga the spine represents the journey to enlightenment, from sacrum to the head, and even above the head. Energy of awareness travels upward in humans, from the bottom of the spine to the very top of the head, and as the energy of consciousness travels upward, it “awakens” (or unlocks) our different chakras (energy centers). So … we naturally become more aware when we do, for example, spine moving asanas. Until — yes, you got it! — we become enlightened.
Doesn’t that intrigue you? To be “en-lightened?” But even if you’re not interested in becoming enlightened (which I was/am and everyone with Scorpio rising, as I have, supposedly is, ask any astrologer) … it’s nice to live without pain. Let’s keep it simple, shall we, sweetheart. Do yoga, meditate, just to live pain-free (if you’re not concerned with enlightenment). If you’re a person who does yoga just to be “more fit” … this is a perfectly valid reason. Nonetheless …. things happen spontaneously, when we start to awaken our chakra, energy centers with moving our spine, twisting, pressing it as we do in yoga.
We’ll be exploring, here, together, this travel-upward of human consciousness-awakening in the next seven weeks. And in case you’re interested, I was inspired because I’m teaching the 7 energy-centers/chakras for the next 7 weeks in my Santosha class each Wednesday night at 6:30p at Discovery Yoga in St. Augustine, my hometown. C’mon down, as we say in the South.
The first chakra’s consciousness corresponds to the basic survival mechanism we mean when we say …
“I am … ”
When I announced I was teaching the chakras starting next week at our last class, and added in explanation, “even a person in a coma is experiencing the first chakra awareness of consciousness,” I was amazed that one of the two students there had actually just been in a coma a few months before!
She immediately knew what I was talking about. Because, even though I’ve never been in a coma myself, I’ve talked to others who have and they all say the same thing.
“Even when on the outside it looks like I’m unresponsive, I’m totally aware of everything that’s happening around me. I can hear, smell, sense what’s going on around me. I’m not in some kind of a blankness. I had awareness, even though to others, it looked like I wasn’t even there.”
In one of my friends’ case, who was declared brain dead!— He awoke and is now back to almost-normal! With his family crying all around his bed saying their good-byes several hours after the plug had been pulled, he turned his head and said, “Hey, how are ya, Bob?” to his brother. Bob and his entire family were literally gathered, praying, resigned to their saying farewell to my friend, and now, a full year later, he’s living back where he was before he went into the coma during his hip-replacement operation. He’s back on Facebook saying how great it is to be alive! Every moment counts, and yes, he knew everything that was going on when they said he was, supposedly, brain dead.
The first chakra is about staying alive. Doing whatever one must do to survive. Eat. Stay out of harm, seek shelter during storms, sleep, heal.
I think most of us who are reading this would benefit from being reminded how powerful that first chakra energy is. If you’re sick — go to bed! If you’re lonely — go be around others! If you’re angry — don’t take it out on yourself. And if you’ve ever been near dead (called an NDE, a “near death experience,” been in a coma, or know anyone who has — know that even if you’re only in that first chakra, the energy is powerful enough, healing enough, and guiding you (listen!) sufficiently, on its own, just by breathing … so all you have to do is keep breathing and you will stay alive. Never give up!
Always know that as long as your first chakra is working (you’re breathing, in other words) you are an aware, awake, and yes, on your way to being an enlightened individual. To the best of your ability, you’re as enlightened right then, as you need to be. You, my reader today, are right NOW, enlightened as much as you need, as well.
Accept where you are. And join me as we travel up the energy centers together.
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In the meantime, breathe …. engage your core …. remember to show a pleasant drishti to the world around you … start with the ABCDs of LordFlea’s Santosha Yoga. And come back to see me real soon. I love you!
Your pal, LordFlea, aka tezalord.me
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