When we are busy and rushing around all the time, it can be too hard to simply be still. Some of us are never still unless we are asleep. This difficulty can put people off taking up yoga or meditation. They would prefer to do some high-impact, high-speed exercise than to risk being unable to find the stillness which is buried deep within them.
And so when someone starts yoga, they need to learn to ease into that stillness. Nobody can move from fast to still that easily. We have built up a momentum in our lives which will take time to slow down. So for most of us it won’t work if we rush in from our hectic day, sit or lie down and attempt to empty our minds. It will take a bit more effort than that, a bit more preparation. We make our slowing down a gradual and enjoyable process.
In class, we will generally start with some faster, rhythmic movements, which help us to initiate that process of listening to our bodies, co-ordinating our breath with our movements, and easing out any stiffness and tension. Then the movements will slow down, moving into gentler, flowing sequences and a series of stretches and asanas. Asanas may be held or we may flow in and out of them. We are approaching that stillness in our bodies now, and moving towards a clear, calm mind. Our physical practice can, in itself, be a form of meditation. One of the main reasons I chose to train in Dru yoga was because of the meditative, inward focus of the Energy Block Release sequences and the flowing postures. Each part of the movement can be performed with awareness of different chakras (energy centres), with awareness of our breath, and of our state of mind. Often we will pause at the end of a sequence to close our eyes and really tune into the effects we are experiencing from the movements. The stillness follows naturally from the movement, without being an effort.
Only after this part of the class do we move on to meditation, pranayama or yoga nidra (deep relaxation). The mental stillness follows naturally from moving and resting the physical body. Once the stillness is truly established, we may then – and only then – find an awareness of the subtle movement of energy in the body. So just as movement naturally leads to stillness, so stillness will lead us into a deeper awareness and experience of our inner selves.