I’m continually surprised by how few people know what embodied means. Taking that even a step further, how that can relate to a yoga practice and our life off the mat. I’m talking even the high-brow spiritual types, the bearded hipsters and the lululemon wearing yogis. Not, only is this fascinating to me, but I also frequently struggle myself to come up with a succinct way to speak about embodiment.
I trip over my words. You’ll hear me say ‘you know what I mean’, in hopes that some fragment of what I have said has landed.
Even more troubling is when I tell people I’m an Embodied Yoga Principles teacher.
Woah! Stop the press! WTF does that mean?
This is my attempt to help share what embodiment means to me and how I use it in my yoga teaching.
Embodiment simply means how we are.
Now, peel back some layers and this is where our mind trickery comes in. How we are in our bodies is not always what our mind tells us. Our brains are weird and wonderful places. The imaginary monkey that lives in our head can spin all kinds of tales; our bodies simply cannot.
Friedrich Nietzsche said “There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” Read that line again!
So, embodiment is not only how we are, but our ability to feel how we are. How often do we ignore what our body feels in order to carry on with our everyday duties. For example, when that 3pm slump comes, how often do you reach for a coffee or chocolate, instead of actually taking a rest.
Okay, so if embodiment is how we are, what the hell is Embodied Yoga Principles (EYP)? Basically, this is no ordinary yoga. This is not the yoga of dogma, tradition or even transcendence, and definitely not £100 unicorn leggings.
In EYP we use archetypal forms to explore our deep rooted body psychology. There are 26ish* forms that we work with exploring our patterns; in how we say ‘yes’, ‘no’, our boundaries with authority, giving and receiving and so on.
We take a form, we breathe, we feel our body and notice is the feeling familiar, yearned for, difficult etc. Here is also where we look for deviations in the form, from what was instructed. It’s these little keys that give us information about our patterns in our life off of our yoga mats. From this exploration we expand our awareness about how our body is, thus how we really are. We then get a choice. Do I want to change my embodiment or is it serving me how it is.
When I say let’s do some embodied yoga, I don’t mean let’s roll out the fancy yoga mat and strike body-beautiful yoga poses. I mean let’s listen, deeply listen to what our bodies are showing us about ourselves. Let’s grow our awareness and make impactful life changes that not only helps ourselves, but those that we’re in community with.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this:
How are you?
Let me know in the comments below.
(Stay tuned for my blog about how becoming embodied made me take the biggest step of my adult life.)
*I say ‘ish’ because my colleagues and I are always creating and discovering new ways to learn from our bodies.