Why heal?

It can seem to be a bit navel-gazing, all this personal healing that we do.  Your journey within is completely unique, mysterious and exciting.  One can easily get distracted by the phenomena and surprises along the way.
We had the opportunity to examine this question in great depth, this past week.  Some 27 students and 7 instructors gathered in Dénia to study the yoga sutras.  I am privileged to be amongst that group.  We turned over and around sutras 3:1-38, delving into the siddhis that appear when one practises samyama upon different points in the body.  This is pretty esoteric stuff, and it is also information that is privy to the study group.  But, it suffices to say that

, with the regular yet detached practice of yoga principles (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara), one develops the capacity to perform dharana, one-pointed concentration on an object.  Dharana leads to dhyana, and dhyana to samadhi.  The practice of one-pointedness is called samyama.  Our relationship with linear time is altered and we become able to understand the past and the future. (3:1-15)

Along the way, as the nervous system becomes purified and the sensibility heightened, whilst preserving detachment from the information sent to the brain by the sense organs, hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and seeing, we become more sensitive to other information being subtly transmitted by the person or thing in front of us.  This subtle information is unspoken, but it manifests in thought, action, deed and reaction.  We find ourselves with the ability to see things that are hidden, or in the past or future.  We find our intuition honed and receptive.  We may perceive luminosity, sweet tastes and fragrances, murmurs of sound reverberate and are heard.  These delights are real and reproducible – as is everything that Patanjali has thus far described.  Practice makes perfect balance and union.
But! Beware.  Do not identify with these powers.  If the ego grabs hold of them, it only becomes stronger.  Even the most purified mind, if there are still vrittis of rajas in there, is prone to fall into the trap of identification, exultation and emptiness.  If you feel these powers manifesting in you, by all means use them.  but use them for the good of man and womankind.
Which brings me to the topic of my post.  Why heal? What is the point of all this consciousness-raising? What changes if we are healthier, suppler and more emotionally and mentally balanced?  Well, everything.
There is only one way that humankind is going to get itself out of this eco-econo-fear-based decadence and back onto the path of the soul:  join together, working for peace and understanding and harmony and an end to war, forever. How do we do this?  By understanding, accepting and healing ourselves, we create space in our energetic field for the joys and sorrows of the other.  By loving our neighbour as ourselves, by shining our divine light out and letting it meld with the divine light of the other, humankind unites in fraternity and sorority.  We heal so that we can love.  We love so that we can grow and throw off our shackles.  We grow because there is no other way.  If you don’t grow, you shrivel.
Heal yourself, heal the world.
The guru is in you.
cabeza morada

My personal yog: To thine own Self be true

My personal practice has been suffering of late.  Time, but also boredom, has kept me off the mat.  Granted, I have been practising a lot of yoga of daily life, being aware, present, joyful, honest and patient.  Well, most of the time.
Then I read this article, about how to be an inspiring yoga teacher, in which the author says:

When you give yourself permission to abandon the rules, to listen and truly explore and celebrate your body through the shapes and then share what you discover with your students, the movement becomes medicine. My partner and Laughing Lotus co-founder, Jasmine Tarkeshi, always says that to be a good teacher you’ve got to be a soul scientist. You truly must go into a laboratory and investigate your sacred self through your body, every single day.

Heck yeah!  I need to remember that sometimes.
The system I know and teach is called Viniyoga.  The central tenet of this system is “the yoga adapts to the person, not the person to the yoga”.  It is a system that can be considered the peak of Krishnamacharya’s life’s work and investigation.  I believe wholeheartedly in that core message and have iron faith in my teacher, Carmen, and my lineage (Krishnamacharya -> TKV Desikachar -> Claude Maréchal -> Christina S. de Ynestrillas -> Carmen Sánchez Segura).  And yet, and yet…lately something hadn’t been quite right.
I embarked on the second phase of my teacher training, the “Post-Formation” last autumn.  The format was different than the first part (once every two months, a residential weekend away) but the content built solidly on the earlier teachings.  Perhaps a bit too solidly…more sutras?  more posture analysis? etc…Boredom has always been my bugbear, so I knew I need not heed that little voice inside saying “something new…something new…go and find something new…”
What was putting me off?  Boredom, yes.  But more than anything,  a distinct lack of joy was bringing the whole tone down.  I felt the need to knuckle down for the seminars rather than blossom out.  In the meantime, I had enjoyed the wonders of Stretch Therapy and the deep relaxation of Yin Yoga.
I began to doubt…was Viniyoga too limited?  Are the postural compensations too often, too indulgent, not challenging enough?  Why is it that those who practice Viniyoga seem to do so for a very long time without ever developing the stunning and deep flexibility that other lineages develop?  Why do my teachers, who evidently know a lot about yoga and have practised for years not seem to smile, not seem joyful (with the exception of Claude) ?  The questions rolled round my head and I found no answers.
The second, then the third seminars dragged on.  One of the group dropped out.  Doubt, head-scratching, the decision to stay.
Then, I read this article and realised something both simple and profound. Having completed the teacher training, having practised solidly since 1999, I had earned the right to innovate, create, both in my personal practice and in my classes.  Of course, I had always done this, I know that I am creative when it comes to sequencing, bhavanas, important details.  But, still, I limited myself.
I think I will grant myself a little more leeway from now on, find out how Viniyoga adapts to Rachel, not Rachel to Viniyoga. 
I still believe that the training I am pursuing is the highest quality teaching I can receive here and now.  It is I who needs to transform.  OM.  May you find your own path, too.  The Guru is in you.