What is a Yogic relationship? | Mark Whitwell

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Teaching in Bali 2019 | Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

Yogic Relationship

Yoga arose from the great Vedic culture of darshanam which is a word that means ‘seeing.’ We see one another as we actually are — along with God, the guru, our spouse, our body, and the entire elemental world in which our bodies are arising. Yoga is to be in relationship with the all tangible and intangible conditions of our reality. The basis of world religions however has been to observe or to reside as the witness to reality and experience. Yoga is going 180 degrees in the other direction. It is to embrace experience. And then we know the context in which everything is arising.

Of course, it must be said, that we are all already in perfect relatedness to our reality. Rather we are born into this reality attached to and formed our of the nurturing flow of life. We are utterly connected to one another and nothing that take that away from us. As we wrote recently in God and Sex,

“In the close observations of science, we see the poles of negative and positive energy functioning at atomic level, attracted and attached to one another in precise form. In our most expansive view, we see the grand orchestration of suns and planets moving in the same attraction of opposite poles holding one another in the mystery patterns of known and unknown stars. An intelligence, function, and beauty is operating in the world we know that is beyond comprehension. That same intelligence is also present in our human life in each beautiful person, in heartbeat, in breath, and in Sex. This attraction of opposites, the male-female or yin-yang equation of life, is how we all got here. It continues to move as the absolute power of life that sustains us all, and renews and nourishes us. This is the nurturing flow of the universe. And we can completely trust and participate in it. We already are it!”

Our Yoga practice is our direct participation in our priorly given natural state of relatedness. It is to relax into what is already the case, to receive the sublime mystery that is our life and the lives of those we love.

Asana is Remedial

In the traditions, Yoga was compassionately given to people by reality realizers — those are not obstructed in mind and body from the powers of creation — to individuals who were still suffering from the presumption that they were separate from their experience, their environment, and from each other. Yoga practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation were given as remedial tools that removed obstructions in the body or mind that have built up through our reaction to experience.

When we react to our experience knots accumulate in the muladara chakra at the base of the body obstructing the flow of prana in our system. Desikachar would say that during your practice every inhale fans the agni, the fire of life that is located in the belly. And every exhale lifts the muladara chakra into the agni. The heat of the body cleans the nadis and removes obstructions. The nurturing flow of prana is then able to flow again in the directions she pleases and we can re-enter the related condition.

“Don’t take this ancient poetry too seriously,” Desikachar would say. “Is there a fire burning in the belly? Do I fan that fire through the inhalation and it goes woomph? And is there a blockage way down deep in the base of my body that I then lift into this fire and the fire clears it away?”

“It’s poetry.” He said. And then he added, with a playful look in his eye, “But there is something in it!”

The idea of a Yogic relationship is one in which there is an uninterrupted continuity of feeling between people. If we do not react to our experience then the pranas keep flowing. We emphasise however that Yoga is body, breath, and relationship — in that order! It is your daily intimate embrace of your embodiment that clears the pathways and deprograms the nervous system so that it can receive your experience. If you do not have intimacy with your own embodiment, your own breath, there is no hope that you can intimate with your experience.

There is no requirement to be overly intimate with everybody you meet. Rather, it is simply to be in appropriate relatedness to each person and to relate in a way that is relevant to the social circumstance. We all have our roles and positions as we navigate through the world. We meet every kind of person and can relate without being in conflict with society.

Mark Whitwell | Heart of Yoga

The Natural State

The natural state of the human being is unproblematic relatedness. U.G. Krishnamurti, who had a profound influence on Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar, described the natural state of the human being as simply being in an unproblematic relatedness to all conditions. We are simply in relatedness to all conditions, all people that you meet, all experiences that you have. When there is no contraction or problem being made out of our experience then the pranas flow. That is the state of Buddhahood — to be at one with all conditions.

We all feel that from time to time because it is our natural state. It is the way our biology is functioning irrespective of what our mind is up to. Just as the tree is already in perfect relatedness to every aspect of the cosmos — to air, light, water, plants, animals, sun, moon, and stars — so too human beings are born into a perfect relatedness. We practice Yoga to participate in the natural state which over time, suddenly and gradually, diminishes the presumption of separation, fear, and reaction to experience that is our cultural inheritance.

Mark Whitwell and U.G. Krishnamurti | Heart of Yoga
Mark Whitwell and U.G. Krishnamurti | Heart of Yoga
Mark Whitwell and U.G. Krishnamurti | Heart of Yoga

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Mark Whitwell has worked as a Yoga teacher around the world for the last 45 years, and is the author of four books on Yoga. https://www.heartofyoga.com/blog/