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All creative acts come from the same source and unfold according to the same principles.  I discovered this when I instinctively used the techniques I had learned in my Voice training to give birth to my daughter.  Just recently, I have been the receiver of two creations that are close to my heart.

My niece, Sophie, is the first.  She was born at home in peace, attended by my brother (her father) and in the last few hours, by two midwives.  My sister-in-law used her strength to receive the power of Life and release her daughter into the world.  We are all grateful!

Having  just written about how Yoga is Strength Receiving, I got an email from Caylie Staples letting me know about the upcoming release of her first album, ‘Receiver’. Caylie writes:

I was working with you a lot during the time that I was writing the material and… recording it…you were a big part of my ideas about giving and receiving – thank you!

The album was recorded by Alex Unger and features myself (voice and songs), Katie Dutemple (voice), Felicity Williams (voice), Matt Brubeck (cello), Daniel Fortin (bass) and D. Alex Meeks (drums) -all wrapped up in a beautiful package designed by Emmott Clancy and printed by Standard Form!

CD RELEASE PARTY for ‘RECEIVER’
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm
The Southern Cross Lounge at the Tranzac
in downtown Toronto
Free show; albums $10.00

The release will feature the band from the album, with Cory Latkovich subbing in for Matt Brubeck on cello – if you want to hear both of these fantastic cellists, get the record and come to the show!  The band is very excited to hear what this new member will bring to the table!  We will also be joined by some very special, secret GUEST IMPROVISERS for part of the evening.  Material from the album as well as very new material will be played!  Toronto folks can pick the record up at the release show or from ‘Soundscapes’ on College Street.

I began to write a comment on Nadine Fawell’s post but I realized I had too much to say, so I am writing here instead.  Nadine lives in Australia and counts Mark Whitwell as one of her beloved teachers.  A student of hers had asked her for her understanding of Mark’s statement that “Yoga is Strength Receiving” and she bravely took up the challenge.  Here’s my response!

If you move and breathe as Strength Receiving, you are functioning in the same way the universe functions; you are in harmony with everything.  You embody the principles that philosophy talks about and they are easily understood because they are a tangible experience.  The Yoga technology that allows you to do this is not taught in most Yoga classes.  As you and Grace share, Nadine, injury, or disintegration, is the result and it can take time to drop the habits that are in your body from prior training.

In breathing and moving in a way that actually allows you to experience Yoga, “the challenge is within the breath limits, not the musculature”, to quote Mark.  Hands are open and soft; shoulders, elbows, wrists and all joints are relaxed.  Yoga practice is about receiving the breath and the Life energy that moves on it.  “The importance of asana is its energetic function, not what it looks like.  What the practitioner actually feels is primary”.  Switching my focus from form to feeling was one of the changes I made in my practice when I met Mark.  It completely trans-formed what I was doing!   To trust the inner fluid source of my form is an ongoing, challenging and beautiful process for me now.

Feeling.  What do we feel?   When we breathe on ujayi, we must use our whole body to breathe.  This turns breathing into an activity that opens and strengthens all of us.  On a ujayi exhale, we naturally engage our core musculature; we actively participate in the release.  But first and foremost, an exhalation needs no effort on our part.  I think it is helpful to look at what is happening in daily life breathing because it sheds light on what is fundamentally soft and strong in us.

To exhale is to let go.  The diaphragm is the main muscle of respiration and when we exhale, it relaxes.  As it does, it moves up against the lungs which return to their unstretched state.  The decrease in volume increases the pressure in the lungs and breath flows out of us. (This is why open sound is a release rather than an effort and why it is so resonant and pleasurable!)  When the diaphragm contracts, it moves downwards, creating more space in the lungs which breath moves in to fill.  So an inhalation engages our strength and that is why the test of whether we should stay in a posture or not is whether a full, smooth inhalation is possible in it.  Our strength is necessary in order to receive.  This is true on both the most basic physiological level and on the most subtle levels of human connection.

The tricky part is that we tend to believe the opposite!  We think that giving is work and that receiving necessitates personal surrender.  We put our strength in the wrong place and then are bewildered when everyone gets hurt.   Receiving and surrendering are two different things.  The Concise Oxford dictionary defines surrender as 1 tr. hand over; relinquish possession of, esp. on compulsion or demand; give into another’s power or control. 2 intr. a accept an enemy’s demand for submission. b give oneself up; cease from resistance; submit.  Mark’s statement is that Yoga is Strength Receiving, not Strength Surrendering!

Nadine, when you wrote about relationship, you mainly used images of surrender rather than of receptivity.  They particularly struck me because I have just recently recognized how I can confuse my own self-abnegation with being a loving person.  I’ve been insane!  But I’m not alone in my craziness and I think our collective confusion speaks to the loss of power we assume is necessary if we are to love and be loved.  Surrender, in the sense of giving up our idea of who we think we are or who we want others to think we are, or of letting go of resistance, may be an appropriate response when we receive another but it is not the action of Yoga.

Receiving is.  Receiving someone is engaging our strength and taking them in.  Seeing them, hearing them, enfolding them.  Then there is no difference between us.  Then we are in Yoga.  Then we are in Love.