Inner Workings Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 4

The Practice of Affection

75 min - Practice
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We are in a relationship. Kira opens with a short talk on how the nervous system works, and then shares a practice designed to help us find more spaciousness and ease in the disharmonious moments. You will feel safe, protected and held.
What You'll Need: Blanket, Strap

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(waves crashing) Relationship is the source of all our problems and all our joys. And yet, you can't not be in relationship. Or as Alan Watts, our friend, says, "You don't come into this world, you come out of it." And so the heart, according to the sages, the heart's deepest longing is to be connected. And yet, if we pay close attention to our behavior, we can start to notice that we seem to also have a deep longing to be separate. And yet, according to the sages, we're already connected.

And so, the play today is can we start to understand a little bit more about this longing to be connected and why it's so painful when we come across disharmonious relationships and how can we find a way to be more at ease? Now, this lesson will make more sense if we just understand a little bit about the nervous system. So, the nervous system has many parts, but one of the parts of the nervous system is known as the autonomic. And you can remember that because of the word automatic. The autonomic nervous system takes care of all the things that we don't have to think about.

For example, right here in the last few moments, you probably haven't thought about growing your hair, beating your heart, growing your nails, digesting your breakfast or lunch or dinner. Or those of you that are still optimistic about reproduction, you probably haven't given that a thought over the last few moments to make sure that you're ovulating or producing sperm. These are the kinda things that are taken care of by the autonomic nervous system. It's happening all the time without our conscious control. Now, the autonomic nervous system has two main parts, what we call the parasympathetic and the sympathetic.

Now, you can kind of keep those straight in English if you remember parasympathetic, P for peace, and sympathetic, S for stress. Now, the sympathetic's job, I got my friend, Sympathetic, the sympathetic's job is to continually ask the question, "Am I safe? "Am I safe? "Am I safe?" And as long as she gets back the answer, "Yes," well then the parasympathetic takes care of the show. The heart rate can stay low, the blood pressure stays low, long-term optimistic projects like digestion and reproduction can be considered and things work as they're supposed to, okay?

Now, the nerves of the parasympathetic emanate from two primary spots. I'm gonna turn so I can show a little bit more effectively. You can bring one hand up to the base of your skull, okay right up here, and one hand down to the base of your sacrum. Okay so, the nerves of the parasympathetic emanate from basically these two spots. Now, what's interesting to note is most of us are tight right here and right here, okay?

So, the nerves of the peace are often our most gripped. Now, the nerves of the sympathetic, if you bring one hand right up to where you can find this bulbous vertebrae right here. For most of us that's the C7 and right below the C7 usually, C stands for cervical, right below the C7 sits the T1 which is the first bone of the thoracic spine, so from T1 don to about L2 which is the second vertebrae of the lumbar spine, are the nerves of the sympathetic, the stress response. And so sometimes if you find yourself angry, you'll feel this little (groaning), okay? Like (growling).

That's just the sympathetic firing, you can feel this like mother bear thing happening. Okay, now the reason I wanted to review this just a little bit on our way into practice because it's a natural response through many times of our day to not feel safe and to get this little hit of the sympathetic. And unless we kind of can start to identify what that hit feels like, what the grip in the mouth, the jaw, the tongue, the little hit of the cortisol does, okay? It's hard to be able to identify when it's happening. And unless we have a really strong sense of what it feels like to be in the parasympathetic a little bit more groovy, easy, safe, soft, open, it's hard to choose it, okay?

So our sequence today will involve just getting a sense of when are we feeling safe and when are we not so that we have a very clear sense of when that is. Okay? So the reason we come into these three meditation experiments, which are gonna involve relationship, the play will be what part of us is activated, you know this whole show is about us trying to start to find out like how do we work, because once you understand how you work, it's much easier to know what's happening. Alright. So, you'll need something to sit on, I like a blanket, you might have another preference.

And today we're gonna use a strap in the sequence, you may or may not have a yoga strap, other things work like an old necktie or your son or daughter's karate strap or some other sort of long thing. We'll start supine, we'll do some really easy openers, eventually we'll come to sitting, do some easy seated, and do our meditation experiments. Okay. So I'm gonna lie down, the way I like to lie down is bend my knees and I like to roll on back and usually when I come down to the floor, step one I like to just bring my knees into my chest cause it feels good. Really not much more than that.

I really recommend, unless your yoga practice feels good, you won't do it. Then to set up for windshield wiper, I'm gonna bring my heels in line with my sit bones, I'm gonna reach my arms up over the top of my head. I like to soften my elbows so my shoulders are relaxed back and down and then just as you feel ready you inhale here and as you exhale, the knees are gonna come to a side. And then you inhale, you bring your knees back center and then you exhale the knees over to the other side. Now this is just super groovy, easy opening that we do a lot.

Okay, so as I inhale I lift the knees come to center and as I exhale I let the knees come to a side. It's very casual, it's easy, the point here is to start to tune your awareness into your body. Which is harder than it sounds. And the more effort you make to coordinate your breath with what you're doing, okay, the more success that you'll have. Okay.

She'll resist a little bit. That's just natural. Now, next time your knees find their way over to the left, so that you're lengthening your right side, just allow yourself to rest here a little bit and stretch your right arm over the top of your head as you're rolling your right hip away and just a little bit of awareness too, finding a little bit more space in between the ribs, lengthening. Okay, nice. Then inhale, bring your knees back center and exhale the knees come over to the right and same idea, just put a little bit more effort to lengthening your left arm, to reaching your left hip, to feeling a little space in between your lungs.

You're just, you're using the stretch to help bring some attention. Now this is one of ironies of the yoga practices, that here they tell us that yoga means connection and it's about feeling more connected and yet one of the primary techniques is pulling things apart. Okay, inhale bring the knees back center. We're gonna repeat that, knees come back over to the left, now lengthen through your right arm please and feel the stretch on your right side, but in the interest of starting to become more intimate with how we were, please let your awareness drop in a little bit deeper more towards your right lung. So like let your mind's eye help.

And like feel the expansion. And feel the ease. And see if you can really tune into you're actual right lung. Like use your mind's eye to see. Yeah.

Okay inhale, bring your knees back up center, please, exhale let your legs come back over to the right so now I'm stretching on the left side and same idea, so be aware of the side you're stretching and be tuned into the lung, so like you've all seen images of the lungs if you haven't that's your Google image homework. Otherwise, like tune into the lung and can you really see her, can you connect her movement with the breath? So can you really feel that inspiration? And expiration. And it'll help if you become aware of an area that you're less aware of like the bottom back of the lung, we tend to be quite aware of the front of the lung but can you be a little bit more aware of the bottom back of the lung.

Nicely done, now bring the knees back up center, now we'll just do that one more time, let the knees come back over to the left please. So you're again in the right lung, and just see if you can just be a little more tuned to her. According to the... Scientists friends, I will call them today, who you know get into the human body, the right lung usually has three lobes. Okay, like can you let your sensitivity be so attuned that you might even be aware of these three lobes.

Nice. Okay, inhale bring your knees back center. Last time, over to the right, so now you're in the left side. And so now you're in the left side and just like here is it obvious you've been tuning into the lungs, is it obvious on this last one, is it obvious that the left lung is smaller than the right? She's smaller because she's sacrificed one of her lobes for the heart.

Okay, so the left lung only has two lobes and she's given up the heart which sits central and tucks into the left lung, she's made room for her. So right there in the center of you, right, you have this tender relationship between the left lung and the heart. Can you be aware of this? Can you let yourself start to be aware of the relationship that's right in the center of you? Okay nicely done.

Letting you now bring your knees back up center. Reach your arms up to the sky, let your arms come down along your side. Okay. We're gonna get a little bit of action into the tailbone. So inhale here and as you exhale curl your sit bones under so you're pressing your low back in towards the Earth.

And as you inhale, roll your pelvis forward so you're letting your low back arch. Okay, so as you exhale, your curling your sit bones under, you're pressing your low back in towards the earth, now I'm keeping my buttocks on the floor, and as you inhale, you're rolling your pelvis forward, you're letting your low back arch. We usually call that swimsuit model position. Okay, so you continue. You exhale you get round.

And as you inhale you arch. And the play here is you're doing this little baby movement, like it's just not much, but the request is, can you start to be aware, okay, how as you move down in this lower region of the body, which if you'll remember was one of the areas where the nerves of the parasympathetic emanated from, can you feel how it effects up through your whole spine? So as you're moving this lower body, can you be aware of how that's making your mid back, your upper back, your neck, and your head all move. Okay. Couple more moments, like just become more interested, this is absolutely key to any relationship, if you're not interested, you won't learn very much.

Okay. Okay. Then relax, rest, consider the effects of this, like just notice. And you'll notice I tend to talk with my hands, my friends tease me that it looks like I have a little hand puppet. It's just what I do and so just because I'm lifting my hands doesn't mean you have to lift your hands.

So just rest, okay pause. (chuckling) And then we're gonna go into something that we call the shimmy. This is awesome, it's not always obvious how to do it just first. I'm gonna use my heels to push my head backwards and then I rebound back. So it looks like this.

And so the feeling is as if you're riding a horse. The temptation, I'm gonna show the temptation, the temptation is to use your butt and do like Prince pelvic thrusts. It's not that, you keep your butt on the floor and you just let this gentle rocking motion happening. So you have this soft gentle rocking in the base of the sacrum and the base of the spine. Okay so, I'll just pause for a moment and see if you can see.

It feels like you're riding a horse, it's just this fluid, easy, soft movement. Couple more moments. You gotta kinda get into it. (humming) Okay. Then stop.

And when you're stopped, God it's so nice, when you're stopped, (laughing) you get this like, sometimes you get this like awesome, sweet, euphoric feeling, okay? Because you've just relax those nerves, right at the base of the sacrum and the base of the skull. Simultaneously the rumor again from our scientist friends is that that motion helps release the endorphins, the serotonin, the joy hormones, so let's do it again. So you use your heels, you create this rocking motion, okay, and it takes a little bit to learn how to do it loose, it just, we generally tend to do things with too much effort in the beginning and so you'll know you're getting it right if it just feels like you're barely doing it. The head wants to move, the sacrum wants to move, don't be timid.

(humming) Okay and then eventually you stop and then that's when it really starts. It's like this sweet, euphoric, pleasant feeling. So it's a great tool if you're on a budget and single. (chuckling) And the play is right what you've just tapped into is the parasympathetic. You've just loosened up, right at the base of the skull, right at the base of the sacrum, and so just like sit in this, like close your eyes, and memorize this feeling.

Nice. Okay. Super. Now the play here as promised though, we have to study both, so maybe you've gotten a little hit of the joy and of course if you want to just stop here and just hang out in the joy and you have no interest in studying the sympathetic, just stay here. But the next part of our sequence, the next part of our sequence is to start to get a sense of the opposite, because truly we do spend more time in the opposite.

And we're gonna start with something that we usually call Ardha Apanasana. So step one, and this might seem like a funny request, but step one is to literally bring your knee into your chest and bring your knee into your chest as if you were in a hurry, and what I mean by that is like pull your knee into your chest as if you don't have much time and this is just so often how we practice our yoga, we can approach it with a sense of like, I don't have much time, I just gotta stretch my back out real quick and then request is can you feel what that really feels like, can you feel the fight, the grip in what we call the hip pocket. Can you feel how it feels in your face, can you feel how it feels in your hands? Okay? Like literally can you feel how it feels to be rushed.

Okay now we'll find Ardha Apanasana which is a fancy name for something so simple, but as you inhale the knee moves away from you, the arms draw straight, and as you exhale the knee comes back in and as inhale the knee moves away from you and as you exhale the knee comes back in. And what this does, we'll do this about three more times, but when you move in and out of a situation then you communicate back into the nervous system that there's an exit route and she's more likely to relax, so next time the knee moves away from you pause and now please make a deliberate choice to relax the outside of this right hip, so soften in the hip pocket, like do you remember post shimmy, can you get gooey in the back of the neck and the skull? And so that as you now choose to bring this right knee back into your chest, can you choose to draw her in gently? Do you remember how tenderly the left lung holds the heart? And can you approximate this same sweetness?

And the request here is as you make an effort towards a more tender relationship, can you feel yourself in a more tender relationship? Okay, easy in the mouth and the jaw. And always, always if what I'm saying and suggesting that you might be feeling is not what you're feeling, please trust what you're feeling. Okay, release this right foot back down to the floor and pause, and just notice the result of so little. Okay so we'll do the same experiment on the other side, so again and I know it might seem silly but this is how we start to become aware of what we're doing, so draw that left knee in, like as if you're in a hurry, like sometimes, you know, I find myself I wake up and I just feel like, ah I don't have much time and I'm just trying to stretch something out quick and then all I've done is get better at being in a rush.

So just feel what it's like, so as you're drawing that knee in as if you don't have much time and as if you don't care about your leg, like feel how that feels in your mouth, in your face, in your hands, in your jaw, like feel the tension of this. Okay. And then Ardha Apanasana, so as you inhale the knee moves away from you, your arms draw straight and as you exhale the knee comes back in. 'Bout four more, inhale, knee moves away from you. Exhale and the knee draws back in.

And then just even if you're looking at your knee some of you might have your eyes closed, but if you're looking at your knee, can you let your eyes be a little softer, can you actually look at her with more tenderness. Okay so on that fifth one, let the knee move away from you and then make a deliberate attempt, like really choose to relax the outside of this left hip, choose to relax this hip pocket, choose to remember how the left lung cradles the heart and then as this left knee comes in towards you, can you draw her in tenderly, gently, sweetly, like tenderness it doesn't come without practice, and so we can just tune to our sage Marvin Gaye, just like try a little tenderness. But you won't know how to be tender unless you practice. (sighing) (chuckling) Okay, let that left foot release back down to the floor and pause. Big deliberate inhale, exhale everything.

And like this is one of those moments, like we've been on our back now for a certain period of time and if you practice on a hardwood floor, or you know not a comfortable surface and you're feeling uncomfortable by all means take the time to make sure that you have the right padding like a blanket or something like that. Okay. Now we're gonna continue this experiment of the sympathetic but this time we're gonna go into the hamstring, so the request now is again please let the right knee come in towards you. Wrap your strap around the ball of that right foot. And then let the right leg extend so that the right knee is in towards your chest.

I'm just gonna let these pants fall. Okay, now the play here and, you always wanna give credit to your teachers and I'm pretty sure that I can accurately give credit to Doug Keller on showing me this particular way of stretching the hamstring so, word to Doug Keller. Keeping the knee into the chest, the play here now is that you're gonna keep the knee quiet. Okay, you keep the knee quiet and then you just start to extend the leg over the top of your head, so I'm keeping the knee quiet, letting the foot come towards the back of my head, but then I'm letting it bend again. Okay, so I'm keeping the knee quiet, letting the leg come back over towards the top of my head and then letting it bend again so I'm not trying to go into my uberest, maximus like all out, what I'm trying to study here, okay, isn't so much the stretch of the hamstring, what I'm trying to study is my reaction to every time I come into the point of intensity, so every time you extend your leg slightly straight, now I've just switched this into my hand so I can use this one to talk with, every time I extend the leg straight-ish, okay, not only do I feel it in the back of the knee or in the hamstring but I can feel like a team effort of grip in my whole face, okay, I can feel it in my eyes, my mouth, my jaw, my tongue, and so as you continue for a handful more rounds like this, just coming into the stretch and coming out of it, what I'm hoping that you might notice is not only the reaction in the leg, but the reaction in the rest of you and sometimes you can even a mental (growling) okay?

This is what we're studying, okay, because what the body's doing, remember that question, am I safe? Am I safe? Am I safe? Every time the body perceives that you're stretching it's sense of that is, no I'm not safe, because every time I come into a stretch, what I'm communicating biologically is that something's going to change. And change never, pretty much never, feels safe.

And so now, once you've come into a spot where it feels interesting, now obviously if you don't like using a strap and you prefer to go all au natural, fine. But I like to show with a strap. Once you find yourself in that spot, extend that leg and now the extent of the play here is not to continue to stretch that hamstring as much as you can. The play here is where can I now turn on some ease? So do you remember how to relax the outside of this right hip?

Do you remember how to soften this hip pocket? Do you remember how to find post shimmy, so like easy in the jaw, kind in the eyes, fluffy in the lips. And you might choose to keep this left knee bent, most people that's nicer on the back, but some of you might choose to let this left leg draw straight. Little flex in the foot. Okay, so again I'm not trying to stretch the hamstring anymore, I'm trying to give her more room.

It's like be the sour cream for your jalapeno. Okay. And as you do that, as you find that like ease, okay as you find that ease within the intensity, the most miraculous thing happens, the intensity lets up. Okay so I'm not trying to train myself to be more intense, I'm finding ease. Which for me usually means wobbling and wiggling.

And if you use the word wobble and wiggle, you have to give a shout out to Papa Shiffman. Okay. Eventually you'll have had enough of that and you remove the strap and what I like to do is shake the leg out a little bit and then I like to curl the ankles. And then I like to flex the foot, not everybody likes this dismount but I like to flex the foot and let the leg lower all the way back down to the floor and once she lands, relax the grip in the thighs and rest. And like really (exhaling) tune into the feeling down in that right leg.

Like really let yourself rest in her. Like feel the landscape. Okay. Nice. Couple more moments.

And it helps, like compare like the mind is one of the favorite things she does, compare how your right leg now feels to your left. Because, unless you really start to assess the results of these practices, you won't do them. Okay. Okay this is when you're glad you only have one more side. Okay so bend the knees, soles of the feet on the earth.

I'm gonna adjust my costume. Okay, left knee into the chest, grab your strap. So same idea, you extend the leg so that that left knee is close into your chest, now this is where my left knee happens to be, just because of the way I'm designed, your left knee might be here, your left knee might be here. This is just how I'm put together. Okay, now again, I like to hold my strap so that my arms extended but my shoulders are basically relaxed and then you keep your knee where she is as you just start to extend your leg up over the top of your head and then you let it bend again.

So you're just like, again remember when I mentioned that when you come in and out of a posture, it let's your body know that there's an exit route, so trauma occurs when we're in an unsafe situation with no escape. So that if I come into a hamstring stretch like this. (groaning) And I insist that the hamstring put up with it, then all I do is I communicate to the hamstring, it's not safe here. Okay? So by moving in an out of the situation, the leg starts to know like it's gonna be okay.

Okay, the other piece of this is because it's also maintaining a slight contraction, that's like contraction also communicates that I'm not stretching, which is a funny way to trick yourself into stretching more. But the main point of this exercise is please notice the rest of your grip. So every time you come into that little banjo leg twang, can you be aware of how the mouth grips, the neck grips, the face grips, the jaw, the heart, and even sometimes you can sense the little mental (groaning). Now, I hope you don't think this is a bummer, but I'm just gonna let you know that basically your hamstrings will feel tight for the rest of your life. Okay, there I said it.

But the play is, is that you start to get used to them like feeling a little bit more free but that the truth is is every time you go to stretch them they'll just feel tight, so just get used to it. Okay. I wasn't really counting how many times I'd done this, I think I need to do it a few more times to be the same amount as we did on the other side. (humming) Okay. So eventually you'll come into a spot where you're in it, like you have a project to work on.

Now, the play is not to stretch the hamstring more. The play is relax here, can you relax the outside of that left hip, can you soften the hip pocket? Like can you let it feel little groovier in the base of the neck? Can you remember post shimmy, soft in the mouth, kind in the eyes, easy in the forehead. This for some of you might be the perfect spot.

Some of you might choose to extend the right leg straight. Okay, and I'm telling ya if you wanna wiggle or wobble a little bit you do it because when you wiggle and wobble a little bit it's like any relationship, if you start to see things from more of sides, it will be more long lasting. A little juju through this extended leg's often good. Okay, and so again the play is the intensity may or may not change in the leg, but your relationship with the intensity changes. You have more room for it, not that you can bear more but that you're more at ease with the intensity that is.

(humming) I think that's probably about, I think I need a few more moments. I said before, yoga teachers always jipperoo that second side, we just do it. Okay, okay eventually you release, let the leg release. I like to do a couple ankle circles cause it feels good. And then flex the foot, lead with the heel, let the leg lower all the way back down and just pause, big deliberate inhale, exhale everything let it happen.

And rest and like truly for real, allow yourself to be in this new landscape, like feel how spacious the left leg feels. Okay. Nice. A couple more moments, like really be in there and tune into when you're really in the feeling tone of this like notice the quality of your mind. Nicely done.

Rest there a few more moments, I'm gonna tidy up my strap situation. 'Cause if I don't do it now, we might just throw it to the side. Okay. To transition you're gonna hug your knees into your chest. You're gonna cross your ankles, inhale roll back, exhale roll up to sitting.

Alright. Nice job. Now this might be enough for you, I mean we've done a lot, we've talked about the nervous system, we've done the shimmy. (laughing) Talked about the stress response. But here's where I'm hoping we can go.

What I'd like to do next is put some of this tuning that you've done, put some of this tuning done, put some of this like self awareness exercise you've done, towards meditation experiment. So I've sat upon a blanket. You probably noticed I did that. So grab whatever you like to sit on, blanket, bolster, if you prefer to sit up in a chair, sit up in a chair, this would be very easy to do in a chair. Snuggle in.

Okay. Big deliberate inhale, exhale everything let it happen and soften your low belly. Relax the floor of your pelvis, and like let yourself feel grounded. Nice. Okay.

Once you feel grounded, you root just enough through the sit bones so that you can feel your heart generous. And then you let your skull align so that the neck tension is no longer necessary, so you find the alignment of your skull so it widens a little bit right at the base, okay, you know that same spot where the nerves of the parasympathetic emanate just like (shushing). And it's soft in the jaw and so fluffy in the lips. Like remember a little post shimmy. Shoulders relax back and down and just find the placement of your hands that feels most comfortable for you.

And again I need this one to talk with. And the play here is just again, remember when we had our awareness on our lungs? So, like move, like come back and bring your awareness back into your lungs and usually I find to bring awareness to both lungs is a little much, so, start at the right lung, like just tune your awareness into the right lung. Nice. And then so tenderly, let your awareness come over to your left lung.

Yes. And, as you become aware of your left lung, can you become aware of your physical heart, while she sits central, she tucks into the left lung. And we tend to, when we bring awareness internally, we tend to be more aware of the front, just because we spend more time looking at it so it takes a little bit of effort to be a little bit more in the center of the heart. Good. And now sometimes the physical heart is quite painful, and so as you bring your awareness to this physical heart if it's quite painful, some of you what you might do is you just tune a little lower so the diaphragm sits just beneath the heart and the lungs, like she tethers to about the fifth rib.

And just beneath the diaphragm sits what are dowas brothers and sisters call the true heart. What our yogi friends call the wish fulfilling tree. So sometimes the physical heart's too much, sometimes just a little beneath her feels more comfortable. And if neither of these spots have revealed themselves to be comfortable then maybe try what the yogi's call the energetic heart which is said to sit more at the breast bone region, the Anahata. Good.

And find one of these three spots where it feels comfortable, so maybe it's the physical heart, the energetic heart, or the true heart. Eyes are closed, soft in the lips. And this is meditation experiment number one. Just with your awareness here, can you please start to tune your attention to a being for whom you have easy affection. And by easy affection, you know, a being that just you have easy joy with, maybe it's a small child or somebody else' small child or maybe it's even a pet, a teacher, a grandparent, but the being does not need to be currently, apparently on the planet.

And if you're having trouble find a being whether it's two legged or four legged or many more legged, if you're having trouble finding a being maybe there's a place where you feel safe. Okay but, I'm gonna continue to use the word being so as you bring you awareness to this being can you just have a sense of maybe breathing with the being? Like being aware of the quality in your heart and the quality of your breath and the quality of you. And the request, because you're a yogi scientist, the request is please as you're with this being, please notice the effect in your heart, in your breath, in your chest or face, hands. Couple more moments, study.

If you're still searching for the being, choose a kitten. Okay, a few more beats. Okay. Relax the experiment. Okay relax the experiment.

Let the eyes open. Okay now unfortunately we're not sitting close enough right now for me to ask you how that went and really find out. Okay. In practice the play is to notice if there was any effect in your heart, in your breath, was there any change in you? And sometimes, you know not always, but sometimes, sometimes my friends what we've noticed is there's just a lightness or a warmth or an ease or a depth, now none of that might've occurred for you, so, maybe try again, or let me know, this is the point of us, we're in this together, okay?

But the play is, if perhaps maybe, okay, you noticed a lightness, you noticed an openness, you noticed an ease or you noticed a warmth. The play here is can you notice how easy it is to change how you feel? Because this is one of the funny things, sometimes we notice how much better we feel when we think on someone who we have for whom we have easy affection, and yet so often we give so much more of our time to the disharmonious relationships. Okay, so what we'll do now is we'll just move through just a little simple opener, so that we can practice this tune of affection so that then we can move into mediation experiment two. So what I'm gonna suggest is you'll extend so, you'll extend one of your legs out and you'll bring the other foot on the inside of your thigh.

Now, technically, because of the magic of television this is my right leg, but it looks like your left, so I'm gonna try to not use right and left because I'll mess up. So keeping this leg extended and keeping this knee bent, root through the sit bones, feel your heart and now the request here is please let yourself again think on your being, so we're letting this affection align us. So with your attunement to the center of your heart, think on this being for whom you have easy affection. And maintain this tune as you let this hand find the leg and let this arm circle up over the top of your head. I like to let this elbow bend because it allows my shoulder to relax down and in.

Extend this arm, now we've already put some effort towards stretching this sideways. So we're just doing that a little bit more. Be aware of your top lung, let that lengthen a little bit. Be aware of your bottom lung, let her open a little bit. Okay.

Feel into letting it be easy in the back of the neck and tune your attention back to this being, so the point of this is is please, while you're in the shape, tune your awareness to that being, some of you have the fluidity in your joints to let this arm come down on the inside of your leg but it is now necessary as you reach and open you might let this round a little bit and get into the back body. Feels good. You might let that arch a little bit, then get into the front body. In fact, actually, since we did that tailbone work why not let it round. Let it open.

And then find a spot where it feels relatively good and neutral and easy. Okay. And then just like tune back into the being. Like tune back into the being and just let your awareness of them hold you, again it might be your cat, or your dog, or your grandchild. Okay.

Eventually you're gonna look down to that extended leg and let an inhale bring you all the way back up and pause and like sit in the resulting sauce of you. Okay, like it's so nice in here. It's really nice in here. (chuckling) Eventually you'll switch. That's one of the problems with home practice, I'm not knocking home practice but what happens sometimes you start to feel so good you're like ah that's enough.

It's why I go to a studio sometimes, do a little more. Snuggle in. Big deliberate inhale, exhale let it happen and ground. Okay, open. And just like tune your awareness.

Okay so this is the beginning, you know, our friend Julia has this great show here on Yoga Anytime called the Bhakti Show, this tuning into another being, this is the beginning of a practice of devotion. Okay. Let this hand find this leg. Circle this other arm up, I like to bend the elbow because then my shoulder finds the joint. Have to find this lung, find the top lung, find the bottom lung.

Find your heart, find your awareness. And so this might be deep enough, you know we all come out of the womb so differently and like there's some like math equation between how you came out of the womb related to your day job with how you end up looking in these shapes. So this might be deep enough. You know as I suggested before what might feel good is you might let that sit bone, 'member we did this before, you might let that sit bone round and you might round and get into the back body. Okay, you might let the pelvis roll forward and then you might get into the front body.

And if I move too slow for you I understand. But so, if you need to move faster, I get it. But just, this is what's happened to me. Rounding. Okay opening.

And again for some of you it'll just be so natural to find your arm on the inside like it'll just be the right thing to do. And for some of you it'll be very natural to find that foot. Okay so whatever your limbs allow you do where it feels good, do it. And tune to the being. What we're doing here is we're really getting good at affection.

If affection was easy, more of us would be affectionate. Nice. Again I told you, I warned you, all yoga teachers everywhere jip that second side so I'm doing my best not to but I'm probably gonna. (chuckling) When you're done, when you feel like you've cooked look down at that leg and then on inhale let yourself come all the way back up. And then like pause, like sit here for a moment, it feels so nice, like it is, it is a question we often wonder like does the yoga feel good when you're doing it or when you stop?

There's this after effect thought of just like wah. So nice. Now after that usually a forward fold feels good. Now, you might choose to extend the other leg out and fold forward with both legs wide, for some people that feels awesome but less of the population. So more of you will feel more comfortable bringing the soles of the feet together and just something super simple.

I'm gonna back up a little bit just because I have a sense that it might be the right thing to do. I'm gonna put my microphone back on. And just let yourself round a little bit, just easy, and just tune back into the being because this is part of the practice of dharana, steady attention, how do we let our mind stay held, and the truth of the matter is the mind is only held by what she doesn't yet understand. Okay, as soon as we think we get something we're ready to move onto the next thing so absolutely keep your steady attention, dharana, is the willingness to not know everything. Okay.

Chin into the chest, roll back up. Now we're gonna sit again, so again you'll see I'm, so you see I've folded my blanket up, you might have your own prop. So now what I'm hoping is is that you're prepared for this second meditation experiment. Snuggle in, big deliberate inhale, exhale everything, let it happen, soften the low belly. Grounded.

Root through the sit bones enough so the heart feels generous. And align the mind so she feels open. Eyes closed. Okay. And now this is a funny request, but the request now please is to do your best and if it feels safe, please let a being with whom you have a disharmonious relationship to come in front of you.

And as you let this being with whom you might have a disharmonious relationship come in front of you, some of you might need to put the being like a hundred yards away, some of you might need to put them under a glass jar, whatever feels safe but just place this being in front of you and now like a good yogi scientist, study what's happening. Study your reaction. Notice your face, your jaw, your breath, your being, your body, like notice you. Last few moments. Okay.

Relax that experiment, big deliberate inhale, exhale everything. Eyes open, okay. Now the play here and again you're not right here I can't actually find out what's happening for you, of course you can write and let me know but often what we found out is that we have all found ourselves to be amazed by how we react, that it's a very similar response in that sympathetic nervous system as when we were in the hamstring stretch, that this being isn't even here and yet we find that our breath clenches, our jaw clenches, our mouth clenches, and we immediately feel tense. Okay. And so the point of this, right, is to notice like, whoa, because generally, and I'm not accusing you of anything this is just the data, but generally these are the relationships we spend the most time thinking about.

Okay. So this prepares us for meditation experiment number three, so big deliberate inhale, exhale everything. Now, this last experiment, the point here is not to have affection for this disharmonious relationship, I'm gonna repeat that. The point is not to try to have affection where there's disharmony. The purpose of this is how do you self soothe within the disharmonies.

So just like when we were in the hamstring stretch and the request how do you find ease within the intensity. That's the last part of this experiment, this is our final experiment. If you're still here awesome job. So here's how we're gonna set up. I'm gonna tell you what we're gonna do.

We're gonna go back in there, we're gonna find the affectionate being first, okay, so we're gonna essentially find our quality of affection. We're gonna let that being disappear, and then we're gonna bring the disharmonious relationship back in, okay, and then again, you're not trying to have affection for them, the play is you're gonna let them be here while you then self soothe. Then we'll let them go and then we'll bring our affectionate being back like a chaser. Okay let's see how it goes, so snuggle in, big deliberate inhale. Exhale everything.

Do that again, inhale. Exhale everything. This is how the yogi does scientific research. Okay so you're grounded. You're generous.

Your mind is listening. Shoulders are back and down, hands are as you need them, open or down, down can sometimes feel safe or more grounded, open sometimes just feels more vulnerable available, so you choose. Okay. Only as you feel ready, okay? There's no forcing here, only as you feel ready.

Let the being for whom you have easy affection come into your awareness. Again, maybe it's your dog, maybe it's your cat. Just let them come into your awareness and be with them and experience how you feel, like experience the brightness perhaps in your breath in your heart, in your face. And can you also feel just, can you feel grateful because they are letting you love them. That's a huge gift that this being is providing.

Okay. Now. Study physiologically how you feel, like study how it feels and so the play is study so much how it feels to be in affection that you can stay in affection even as you let this being dissolve. Okay. So like just gently let the being you're focusing on dissolve, still feeling affection.

Good. Okay. Now only as you feel ready, okay, only as it feels safe. Please let this being with whom you have disharmony come into your frame and again anything you need to do, if you need to put them far away or make them small or under a glass jar, you do it. Notice how you react, just notice.

Okay. And now the play here is can you let the being stay like let the being stay while you now self soothe. So, remember affection, remember post shimmy, like soft in the sacrum, gooey at the back of the neck, easy in the heart, kind in the eyes. So you're letting the being be here while you self soothe. Okay couple more moments, it's not easy, we practice.

Nice. Awesome job. Okay so as you feel ready now, like let the being that's sitting in front of you dissolve. And then just, like again like a chaser bring the being back with whom you have affection and breathe with this being for a few moments. Just (exhaling).

Beautiful. Awesome, okay relax this effort, big deliberate inhale. Exhale everything. As you feel ready and as if feels safe let your eyes open. Okay.

So like, let me know how that went because, and let this be your homework for the rest of your life. I have found this incredibly effective and helpful and useful and I really hope you do too. Now, you could end here but I think it'll feel really nice to take a little a bridge and rest because this inner work is so exhausting. Lie on down. Hug your knees into the chest.

Wobble. And you might've had enough, like whoo, it can be a lot, you know. And again like one of the things we're trying to do as yogi's is start to become aware of what we're doing and start to become aware of the actual experiences that we're putting ourselves through. So for just a little easy bridge I'm gonna set up with my heels in line with my sit bones, spreading my toes. Inhale here as you exhale just press into the feet, let your hips lift.

This might be the perfect spot for some of you. Some of you are gonna inhale here, exhale you're gonna lift your hips a little bit more and then what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna lean to one side and kinda snuggle this arm underneath, we can do the other side, snuggle this arm underneath. (laughing) Soft in the throat. I'm pressing down through my pinkie side of my arm now I've got these long monkey arms that reach all the way to my legs, you might not have these same arms. Press and lift, you might keep the hands like this, some of you might be more inclined to interlace and just like, all you're doing here is you're pressing, you're lifting and really all we're trying to do is clear the heart a little bit.

Okay, the back bend, the opening of the heart is a stressful experiences. Strangely enough we are encouraging a little bit of sympathetic response here. Mostly so that we can get a hit of parasympathetic. Okay. Eventually you're gonna come up onto the balls of the feet, you're gonna release your arms to the sky and you're gonna roll on back down.

The hips, heels, and then rest. And like really there's this immediate sense of relief when you come out of the back bend because now the heart is safe again and it's nice. If you'd like to take a second one of those please feel free. I'm gonna hug the knees into my chest. I'm gonna take a super simple spinal twist, just keeping the knees together, I'm gonna let my arms come out from my shoulders.

Okay. I'm gonna let my knees come over to the left and what I like to do then is bring my right palm on top of my left palm and just get kind of organized and then just open this arm back up. Again I like to bend my elbow so my shoulder finds it's socket. Soft in the mouth. You know and again, like these are tender things.

And one of the things we're trying to do as yogi's is realize that the anxiety we have around these disharmonious relationships, it affects us more than anybody and like your life force is precious, so precious. So precious. Okay. To come out I like to lead with the top leg, come back to center. And then I'm gonna bring everything over to the right.

And I'm gonna bring my left palm on top of my, you know what I feel like I'm gonna scooch back just a little, just so I stay on the mat. Organize. And then this left arm is gonna come back over to the left. Hi plant. What's up?

I like to bend that elbow a little bit. I think I need to organize that a little bit more, there that's better. Just easy. So again your life force is so precious, and so like, just as yogi scientists we're just trying to like really be a little bit more conservative with what we're giving it to. And these disharmonious relationships are confusing.

And I think they're confusing because on a really intimate, deep down level we know we're all connected. And so it's frustrating that it doesn't always feel like that. And yet I have found very little effect by being upset about it. Okay. Probably about another half a minute here, soft in the mouth.

Again your internal personal timing is probably more correct than mine, so when it feels like we've done both sides evenly you'll lead with the top leg. Other leg follows, unwind, hug the knees in. Okay. Let your feet release back down to the earth, pause. And some of you might like to rest with your feet wide, knees falling together for some bodies it's just nicer on the back to keep the knees bent.

Okay, for some of you you might let your legs extend. Now this hasn't been such an active yoga asana practice, it's been more effort in the internal realm. Big deliberate inhale and exhale everything. And so just here in the Shavasana, just maybe let your awareness come so tenderly back to the being for whom you have easy affection and again remembering gratitude. This being is letting you love them.

Nice. Soft in the jaw, easy in the mouth, kind in the eyes. Okay. And if you'd like to rest here in Shavasana for a nice long time then please stay here. Okay.

But when you feel like you've had enough you'll let your knees come into the chest, wobble. Now the usual transition out of Shavasana that most teachers teach everywhere is to roll to a side and that's nice but I just really find that most often when I'm on my own, in my own home practicing, I tend to just roll up. It just feels more efficient. (laughing) I'm just admitting, I'm copping to that. Most excellent work, dear yogi scientist, please, please, please, please, report in, let us know how these things are working, we'd love to hear from you.

Namaste.

Comments

1 person likes this.
I chose this practice today as I will soon be called upon to be supportive in a disharmonious relationship. I have been bracing myself and focusing on not being reactive and trying to find affection. To be reminded by you that I can instead focus on how I feel when I feel it, and choose to self-sooth is extremely helpful. It is allowing me to feel softer about the whole thing and less fearful. And releasing me of the concept of how I "should" be in this relationship. So thank you Kira!
So happy to hear this, dear Marleen. Stay close. xok
1 person likes this.
I practiced this sequence today after a few days without a full yoga practice. I feel now very peaceful and restful. Thanks Kira. I was also very well surprised to notice I had to look for someone I'm in a disharmonious relationship !!!
Ana Love. This is wonderful news! xok
2 people like this.
Thank you for such a great experience with the inner work. I brought a previous pet (best dog ever) into heart space and tears of gratitude fell ;) I felt so protected in his presence that the disharmonious relationship was a breeze. Cheers!
1 person likes this.
Dear Linda, your story makes me so happy. xok
Such a lovely practice Kira, thank you! I found I had difficulty settling on a single being for whom I have easy affection, a lovely reminder for which I was grateful, though it took me longer to settle in. But once I did, I felt so much lighter and a sense of expansiveness and freedom that I miss deeply when I am caught up in my anxiety. The disharmonious relationship was one I have tried hard to forget and was reluctant to allow in, but I was amazed at what a safe and calm place I could come back with the previous memory of affection and the joy at the realization that my affectionate relationships far outnumber the disharmonious ones. It is a lesson and a practice that I will return to and try to carry with me. What a gift! Thank you!

Also, can I just say that I absolutely love your language and the words you use? (I happen to be a bit of a language junkie :) With it you offer a space of such joy and affection in and of itself!
Hallie! I so appreciate your willingness to dive in and thank you so much for such a great yogi scientist report! Miss you and hope to see you soon. xok
2 people like this.
"Like a chaser!" :) :) :)
This was awesome today thank you so much!
3 people like this.
And regarding yoga scientist feedback; I could not believe the 'entry' of my disharmonious relationship caused what felt like my normal 'feeling'... like I must be holding this internal energetic posture all the time! My lovey harmonious entry felt nice, but not until I felt my regular disharmonious self did I realize how fluffy and lovely my harmonized body should be! Hoping to replace my habitual "grrr" with fluffy love as a result of this practice. Thank you again.
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