Very often during the yoga classes one can hear relax your mind. But do we really know how to do it? Sometimes it is hard to spread your fingers or toes wide apart and what about relaxing your mind ? Ufffff. What a challenge, and then on top of that try to listen to your heart. What does it actually mean? Before I was practicing yoga I used to wake up and noticed how the mind starts to work and spin faster and faster, after 10 min I would already feel anxious thinking of all the things that I must do that day, things I forgot to do, worrying about the future etc. Finally I would almost jump out of bed to do something and not to get stressed up. Since I do my practice in the morning I see it as my refuge, the moment of the day when I am making an imprint for the rest of the day, suddenly all the thoughts are out side of the mat. The time passes by and I can be there forever. The image that comes to my mind is Leonardo da Vinci The Vitruvian Man, “Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as cosmography of the microcosm. He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe.” During the practice that is what I experience – the oneness with the universe. Look at the animals in the morning they stretch in all different directions. And we belong to the same kingdom, but often forget about it. Then comes the breath. Our mantra. Ujjayi, pronounced oo-jy-ee, begins with the prefix Uj which means upwards or that which has superiority in rank. Uj also means to blow or expand and it conveys power. Jayi or Jaya in Sanskrit relates to conquest, victory, triumph, success. Jaya also means to restrain or hold back. While hearing the same smooth sound one flows through the practice. And then Leonardo da Vinci comes to my mind again: while creating a small smile –a Mona Lisa smile.
It helps to release and lift the soft palate and increase the space of the oral cavity. Also, allow the sides of your tongue to slide from tip back into your throat. A relaxed tongue softens the throat and deepens the breath. More importantly, the brain tongue connection isn’t a one way street from the former to the latter; stilling any small fidgetings of the tongue helps in turn to still the fluctuations of the brain. We are usually not aware that our tongue holds lots of tension, especially in its root at the crook of the throat. What is more we have an almost constant chatter in our brain, our tongue tends to make barely perceptible movements, called subvocalizations, almost as if we were carrying on a running commentary about what we’re experiencing in our head. This unconscious movement, like that of the eyes and fingers, is reflected back to the brain and feeds its fluctuations (which in furn disturbs the tongue in an endless feedback loop). It’s important then, if we want to quiet the brain, to relax the tongue. Futhermore, the heart is related to the tongue, to which it is connected by the heart muscle. The color and texture of the tongue thus reflect the condition of the heart. Physiologically, the heart controls the circulation and distribution of blood, and therefore all the other organs depend upon it for sustenance. Thoughts and emotions influence the function of various organs via pulse and blood pressure, which are controlled by the heart, where emotions arise. Internally, the heart is functionally associated with the thymus gland, which is located in the same cavity and forms a mainstay of the immune system. Extreme emotions such as grief and anger have an immediate suppressive effect on the immune system by inhibiting thymus function, a phenomenon that has long been observed but little understood in Western medicine. Let’s go further – if you practice properly the tongue mudra you can experience the stance of moving or flying through the void of the supreme consciousness – as it is described in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. I am greatly looking forward to this years BYC as we will have an opportunity to sing a lot of beautiful Kirtans while connecting our open hearts and relaxed tongues 🙂
Check for the Kirtans here