Welcome to Hañsa Conversations! The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast we want to create a deeper conversations to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So, welcome and listen in!
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Ep. 1 – The Quarantine
With most of the world’s population going into social distancing, isolation, and quarantine, what can we do, individually, to maintain and manage health – physically and mentally?
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to the Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversations to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome. And listen in.
This Meta from Hañsa Indonesia, and I have Vincent Bolletta, the founder and director of Hañsa and you are here in our very, very first Hañsa Conversations – a podcasts.
So, um, yeah, so both Vincent and I have been wanting to do a podcast and we finally get around to do it right now because both of us, like the rest of the world, are in some kind of quarantine at the moment. So Vincent, would you like to share with everybody where you are at the moment and your situation?
Sure, sure. Sure. So I am in Beijing. So I arrived probably two days ago feels like last week. So I am quarantined in a lovely Hotel in Beijing. And, you know, just going through the motions really, of trying to organise myself within the next 12 days or so, what to do, and also set a routine in place for myself so that I maintain a certain degree of activity and positivity around all of this. It’s been a bit of a mission getting here, but now I’m settled. I feel comfortable and now it’s a matter of just being stable.
How’s the situation there? I mean, outside of the place where you’re quarantined. Are people going back?
Yes, I look out the window. There’s there’s definitely a lot of movement, people, traffic. I think there is still a number of restrictions in terms of travel domestically. Also there’s still a number of restrictions in terms of how many people can congregate. The studios are still close and things seem to be getting back to normal. I believe the cases the coronavirus cases now are not transferred domestically. They are coming from international arrivals. So there is so there’s a number of I think, policies in place to make sure that they don’t have a second wave of this coronavirus.
Yeah, get it. Me On the other hand, I am right now in my hometown of Bandung, Indonesia. I’m putting myself through self isolation is because I’ve been traveling a lot. And I just want to be careful and not becoming a risk to everybody around me. So yeah, I’m also not getting out much, but that’s a good thing.
Yeah, it gives us It just gives us a chance to regroup in some respects, because we’ve been very busy. And I think this is an opportunity really just to consolidate all the work we’ve done and strategise for things in the future.
Yeah. So with this, the idea with this conversation is really both Vincent and I wants to find a way to sort of share more of a deeper conversation, I guess, understandings of the Hañsa, through I guess, what do you call it, as an audio format that can reach everybody around the world and since most people in this world are going through isolations of quarantine, it seems to be the right topic to talk about this hot issue. So I guess what I want to start this conversation with is that since everybody’s stuck in their own homes, what can we do as individuals in our own isolation to maintain some level of health?
Well, that’s a that’s a very good question. For me personally, what I am setting up to do is organizing a routine where I practice my yoga, my Tai Chi, and also because of my position, I’m also creating new programs. So I spend a lot of the morning in a practical physical situation where I am moving my body. But more and more important to that, you know, it’s it is trying to define for yourself On a daily basis, a routine that keeps you motivated and at least it has a level of purpose and enables you to move into activities, whether it be physical, whether it be more contemplative or just creating creating opportunities for yourself to work at a schedule that is maintained. And I think I think the discipline in maintaining a schedule is essential in these in these situations.
Yeah, I agree with you. I think that that really helps to get into routine. I know it’s quite difficult though. I feel that all of us are now trying to deal with this new change adapting to a new way of living and, and it’s something that we are trying to navigate, I guess.
Yeah, yeah. I agree. And I for me what I’ve noticed the best biggest change is the pace that we approach today. And I’m finding that my the pace is much slower or it has to be approached with a slower attitude. And because it’s very easy to ingest a lot of things that we want to do in a day within the space of a half a day, and then there’s nothing left to do. Or we find it difficult to find things to do. And so moving at a slower pace has been one of the one of the biggest observations on my part and also shifts that I’ve needed to make,
or what kind of shift, do you
well in terms of a shift, it’s more perception. I have I have time I have plenty of time, where in the past, that the feeling was I didn’t have time and I had to rush whatever activity that I needed to do, or get whatever job I had at the moment done as quickly as possible. And now like, there’s a few things that are coming up that I like to do after my quarantine. And now I find myself already rushing into these jobs without sitting back contemplating First, the nature of the job looking at more of the detail of it, and also more importantly, you know, really considering the bigger picture. And then and it’s like, and then I’m sitting at the computer going oh, I’ve got 12 days really here, and there’s no real hurry for me to finish it tonight, you know, and so, so, it was that was that shift.
And it does that, but it does take a while I think.
Yeah, thank you for sharing that because I’ve been feeling I’ve been feeling like, sometimes I feel like I have so much to do and I have to rush it. And then sometimes I feel like I have so much to do that I just don’t want to do all of them, like at all. So I need to find the right pace to actually navigate through that. And, and this is quite beautiful because one of the things principles that do you always mention in terms of hañsa practice is to do it slowly and in the right pace that you’re not in a hurry that you can taste the movement that you’re doing, and you’re aware of everything that’s happening in that moment. So that’s really beautiful.
That’s right. And I think you know, the Hansa principles really come come to light in these situations in ways that are not just theoretical anymore or somehow sit outside of our reality, but can be really embodied and truly felt on our physical and mental level. And why is that that really brings more intimacy to these principles and what Hañsa actually means and, and so to, you know, to move through these moments with, with a level of stability and a level of being present to the fluctuations, we’re both, you know, have emotions because it’s so uncertain. And all of this, you know, there’s so much of an unknown at the moment. And and I catch my I catch myself sometimes going, you know, or feeling very unstable ungrounded because, you know, I can’t project what I’m doing next week or what’s happening in the future, what is what’s gonna hold for me? Mm hmm. So so all of a sudden, it’s, it’s it really does then, you know, make you consider what I’ve been teaching for the last few years. In a way that’s, you know, Much more practical and much more, you know, outside of the yoga and that in the real world in real life, that these principles really do expand beyond just the yoga room or the physical practice. It’s really, I think, attitudinal. It’s, it’s a way of perceiving life. And, you know, funny enough to slightly digress, you know, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve got a little book with me, you know, and it’s the Tao, I’ve been reading I’ve been reading that in the last few days. And you know, it’s a very clear message in terms of moving with a very I suppose a grip that’s not too tight but not too loose either. It is and I think, I think and I think if we, if we can just strip it back to its, that is the practice of yoga is being able to find that middle path if you like, as the Buddhists talk about that middle path between, you know, holding and and also being loose enough at the same time. And, you know, to be structured to have a structure, but at the, and the next consideration also to have that formlessness you know, present to you as a choice when needed. So, so and this is, you know, very clear opportunities for that, to now be practiced, and be realised, it its deepest sense.
Right, right. Right.
So, I mean, talking about that the middle path, I mean, I’m just gonna bring it to a slightly more practical sense, I mean, and bring it to for example, maintaining a self practice at home. Yeah. I and probably many people, before all this, have been conditioned almost in a way of trying to maximise the use of free time, like trying to do more more work because now I have free time. And sometimes there’s that desire to apply that as well to practice, right, like, Okay, this is a good time to practice whatever I, I can’t accomplish yet. So how how can we use that idea middle path into our self practice at this time?
Yeah. Well, that’s that’s a very good question. I mean, you know, we were looking at a one word from the perspective of work you know, managing our approach so that we don’t just fill our time with you know, jobs, you know, administration work or what have you. So, so we’re tempering, we’re tempering that but then I think also at the same time, we need to also temper our practice when we have time as well because it’s we can easily over practice as well. So my my approach in the last few days being in quarantine is to do little practices. But more regularly. So, my practice Yeah, so my practices will be 20 minutes long. Let’s say yeah today my practice is 20 minutes long and then I had my breakfast and I did some chores around my room and then I did a Tai Chi practice as well which again was 20 minutes. So it was this little bites but there’s this consistency to it and what I’ve what I’ve found is if these are dotted throughout the day that they give me a chance to regroup and ground down again,
you know, through the course of the day, it gives me an opportunity to, to re establish a level of stability that sometimes, you know, we can get lost with with the wealth of information in terms of what’s happening out in the world. And it’s it’s hard to decipher what is factual and what is very subjective and emotionally based and charged. information. Yeah. So and it’s easy, you know, and the social media influence to, to lose a liberal perspective around, you know, what, what is supportive and what isn’t supportive in terms of of information? What do we need to know and what can we disregard? And that becomes really hard to sift out. Yeah, but what I, what I found is that doing these little tiny practices that again, you know, I want I want to flow through my day, you know, I want my day to be have to have this rhythm. So these practices have a level of ease to them, right is that that that is maintained through the roof once I finish, it’s maintained through the other parts of my days or other parts or the other activities that I do.
I love that. And that’s such a great idea. Because I think it’s so important right now to also take care of our mental state. I mean, there’s a lot of anxiety and fear that comes out. And as a result of everything that’s happening in the world, and from your personal life and morning practice. And I spent time before the practice, doing the hañsa seed practice just to sort of ground myself and then I meditate afterwards. And it’s very good to start the day but I, I do notice that throughout the day in with just checking news, listening to news talking to people, then I lose balance again. And but if I see it as like, how about I have several practices throughout the day, then it might help a lot in terms of managing those emotions or whatever comes up.
Yeah, yeah. And the practices don’t have to be physical they can be Breathing based practices that can be contemplative, you know. But my suggestion is any, you know, any movement you know, a movement to me, anchors us into a physical reality that then tends to negate some of the, you know, emotional fluctuations. So I try and create practices for myself that, that have that contemplated effect. So they’re not just physical, but they also touch upon my mind’s attention, field of attention and its ability to be stable. And so they’re very contemplative in nature. So, and I like combining movement and mindfulness. and I think to me, these practices are very sustainable and you know, if I feel ungrounded and I try and sit down and and try and be still and contemplative or introduce a breathing practice I sometimes agitates me even more because the stillness and the agitated mind, there’s too big a gap between the two. And so, when I add movement, I think the gap narrows and my mind settles. And there’s a greater degree of, I suppose, evolution of establishing, again, that rhythm that I spoke about, which is ease and grace. Yeah,
yeah, yeah. I agree. Totally agree. I feel that I can find certain kinda a better stillness and movement, as I move, yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. Just the other thing, you know, just because my like, my mind is like everybody else’s mind and when I project into into, you know, the uncertainty of the future, you know, fears come up. You know, and, and, and they can sometimes be be overwhelming, but what i is trying to find some level of recognition of the reality of now where I am now and you know, I and I’m in a safe space, you know, I’ve got a roof of my head. Yeah. And I’m comfortable. I know my family is safe as well. They’re doing okay, they’re thriving. So when I bring myself back to actually the reality of now, you know, the what, what is actually truly happening now, in terms of myself and my family. And, and, you know, most people I think there’s a kind of detaches me away from those again, projections of uncertainty and the fear that builds up and the emotionality that also starts to pulsate at a higher higher rhythm.
Right, right, right. Yeah, I think I I agree with you like bringing the bringing everything to now is really, really helpful and yeah, and talking about that unsteadiness because of fear. I mean, I’m not trying to be morbid of anything, but a lot of people are probably thinking about death a lot, because we see the numbers of people dying on the world are rising every day. Yeah, and, I mean, how do you have any suggestions on how to manage that? Or how to deal with that, like seeing those numbers every day rising?
Yeah, that’s that’s, I mean, we relate to to to these numbers, because a one also shows our mortality as well. But at the same time, you know, death undermise if you like, and the uncertainty of life and our Life. It’s a really big is a really big topic. And so, and then just like, you know, the day, we take small bites out of the day, we take small bites out of our practice. And eventually, you know, those those bites, you know, these small bites we come to the end of the day, and it’s another day down in quarantine. And so, and then it says the same with death, you know, we take small bites out of it rather than and so what enables us to understand how to take small bites or what how big of a bite we should take or how we should approach it is really something that we build over time and it’s not an instant cure. You know, and so, a regular practice to me is is is what enables you to become resourceful enough to deal with this level of our existence that is inevitable. And so it’s just for me, the practice gives us the tools to deal with our own mortality or own death, but also gives us the tools to, to live as well more positively and with with greater intimacy with life, even under the shadow of death, it enables us to be present to both. And I think sometimes it’s easy to become overwhelmed by what we see in the news. But there’s still a lot of life to be lived. And there’s still a lot of life to be felt, and the feeling and the feeling of life. It’s always paradoxical and we always do what there is this level of joy that we can feel but what comes side by side with that is also not so good stuff as well,
and that is all part of that. So to live a meaningful life or purpose for life is to be able to navigate both is with as much equanimity and balance. But this is built over time. I don’t, I don’t think you can do it all in one go. And I think, you know, our practice is it is what it is, we practicing to live. We’re practicing to die. We’re practicing to be able to accept both at the same time.
Oh, I love that.
Yeah, yes. So, so to me, that’s, that’s what a practice is all about. And you know, and if we if we knew straight away how to do it, then we wouldn’t be practicing, would we?
Yeah, I like what you said about we’re practicing to live and we’re also practicing to die because it’s really they go hand in hand. And, yeah, there’s no death without a life. There’s no life without death.
That’s right. That’s right. And so, again, that’s how tightly Do you grip on how loose you hold the grip as well. So and in every situation, every day is going to be a different day. And, and, and again one of the principles that I teach I think in hañsa is the ability to adapt, because because everything does change or at least fluctuate and, and and as you as you know the rhythm the rhythms that you get out there you can adapt to those rhythms and, and and move in time with those rhythms. So the disturbanc is less.
Yeah, I agree. And I agree with what you said that it is a practice because whenever I get into that state of fear, I mean my practice normally practice of gratitude or trying to remember what I have at this moment, and that helps me a lot. And then once I remind myself of life, I mean, it’s quite paradoxical of like, the more I accept the reality of death, the more I accept, like, yeah, I’m just gonna, I’m gonna die one day and that’s okay. The more I, I, what’s the word? I appreciate life so much that I want to try to live it as much as possible that I want to try to create a bit more longevity in my life.
Yeah, yeah, I agree. I agree. And I think I think, you know, I don’t, I always, always moved to the word acceptance. You know, I think that enables us then to, to broaden our view a little bit more when we fall under, or at least we use that word as in gratitude as you see it as a beautiful word too. And I was thinking about gratitude before. Because that that, you know, enables us to really appreciate where we are now. And for some of us, we were in a, you know, in a position that we can we can share these teachings or we can share our experiences in ways that really do support people and I and I feel blessed in that way to be able to do that.
Yes I agree, I feel blessed as well. Well, we’re coming towards the end of this this conversation, but we went really deep today and didn’t mean to go there quite deep. But I guess, is there any thoughts or other parting messages when it comes to this conversation we’ve talked about before we end the conversation.
Oh, that’s Yeah. Yeah. I not really I mean, I think I think it’s been quite a quite a good discussion, you know, in terms of how to manage oneself as perfectly as possible in these situations, but also having questions, bigger questions around not just this moment, but the way we perceive ourselves generally in life and in some of the things that we align with and how some of these things, you know, not necessarily supportive now of us.
So, so I think, you know, like anything, when a moment has multiple layers that are both very tangible on the surface, and I think very, can be really experienced. But then, you know, we have other layers to the experience or to the moment that are much deeper, they are much more emotional and psychological. They lead into abstract realms. And so, you know, for me the human experiences is is amazing, the human condition is amazing, it’s just multi dimensional. And so, so for me, the practice is really an exploration of what it is to be in this body. And, and I and I think We just have numerous opportunities to consistently delve into what it is to be alive. And but to have this unique body and also, you know, the narratives that come with it. And I mean, I think it’s, yeah, I think every moment gives us that opportunity. It’s just a matter of aligning to that moment,
you know, Yeah, I agree. I feel that there’s a blessing in disguise for behind all this quarantine and isolation because I feel everybody is given the time to actually do that. And it’s not easy. I mean, like you said, that with change there’s always some discomfort because we’re not used to it. And but if we can stay with it. And we can actually ponder for like a little bit, what’s behind that has come through it or how we actually perceive life. We might actually learn something from it.
Yeah, yeah, I look. Yeah. You know, it’s about being able to build the resources to deal with certain discomforts. And that takes time. But, you know, slowly, slowly, step by step. Just, you know, my, my only finish really here would be, you know, let’s just be kind to ourselves around all this process.
So, that’s a great closing message. Be kind of ourselves, everybody. All right, well, thank you for having a conversation with me. Thanks for technology that allows us to actually have a conversation.
It’s amazing, isn’t it?
I love it. I love it. We are physically distancing ourselves, but we are still able to talk as a community.
That’s really cool. That is very cool. Thank you Meta for your time. Really appreciate that having the chat. It’s really been cool.
Yes, thank you, everybody, and see you are yeah see you in the next hañsa conversation.
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Ep. 2 – What is Hañsa?
In this episode we take a step back to share the story of Hañsa – how did it come about and what are some of the ideas, values and philosophy behind it. Hopefully, this gives you a little bit more understanding of Hañsa.
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to Hañsa Conversations- a podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome and listen in.
Welcome again to Hañsa conversations. I’m Meta from Hañsa Indonesia. And there’s Vincent here on the other side. He is the founder and director of Hañsa. Hello,
Hey, how you doing, Meta?.
I’m doing good. How bout you?
Good. Thank you very, very good.
So today Vincent and I want to do this episode to give everybody a little background on what is Hañsa. Because some people know about Hañsa, but not everybody know about Hañsa. So we think it’s just good to talk about it a little bit more to give some background and some ideas and philosophy behind Hañsa. So to begin with, Vincent, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about your background? And what led you to creating Hañsa?
Sure, sure, I think probably we start at the beginning and that I got into yoga in 1989. I was working in a health and fitness centre in Auckland at the time, and I ended up meeting a chap who was the manager at the time at the at the fitness centre that I was in. And he was doing this really strange thing called yoga and at the time, I had no idea what it was because I came from a more of an athletic and sporting background. So this was completely new to me. But what I really appreciated and enjoyed was the artistry and the aesthetic of his body moving in space in a particular way. And so that attracted me to the practice, purely purely the visual aspect of it. The artistry for me always struck home because I always wanted to be an artist. I always delved into some sort of painting and photography. And I’m quite I’m quite a visual person. So it really became attracted by it.
I mean, over the years in terms of where I am now, I went through a whole variety of different experiences in terms of what yoga is, I delved into a number of practices from early on, which was Iyengar yoga and then slowly moved into more vinyasa based practices. About you know, there was parallel journeys between Yoga in the health and wellness industry, I was working in. At some point, there was a little contradiction. And I wanted to dedicate my time more to yoga. So I made a decision to just follow the path of the practice of yoga and only teaching yoga, I have I have worked in a variety of different position in the health and wellness industry, and so always had some sports science background associated to me. So it’s always informed my practice in some ways in terms of the practical and functional components, so that but you know, but there was something about the practice that was still a mystery to me. And I really enjoyed it. And I wanted to share my experiences of what I was getting from the practice
And so I embarked on a teacher training in the mid 90s I think it was, and, and then at that time, there was no 200 hour, you know, yoga Alliance training. what I ended up doing was a two year apprenticeship with the school of yoga at the time, and the Yoga Alliance sort of came in more or less after that when I finished or I’m not sure how long after I finished but it was basically a process of learning how to teach through the practice and also watching my teacher teach. So it’s really hands a hands on situation and there was many hours involved in learning both the practice itself and making sense of it and some of the reasons why we were doing what we’re doing and then at the same time trying to learn how to present it in particular ways that suited people’s bodies and and also their particular needs that they had which were very individualised.
And so I went through this whole process and, and at one point, I think, in this journey I got a little bit dissatisfied with not so much with the practice of yoga, but the delivery of yoga and its presentation. I felt there was some conflicts that were emerging, you know, because I was seeing people becoming injured through the practice, I was also noticing that what we were asking people to do was contradictory to what the body could do on a reasonable level. And so that took me a little bit further down into the practice of therapy. What was therapeutic about yoga and how can we make this more specific and, and also, how can I present them ways that really honored the the principles of therapy within the yoga practice. So that led me to to America. I did a training in the Vini Yoga with Gary Kraftsow. Yeah, which completely revolutionised my practice in particular ways that I had to deconstruct what I learned in the past before and really learn again what what the practice of yoga was. And I am indebted to a number of teachers, but I think Gary was probably one of the first teachers that kind of opened my eyes to other possibilities.
And that kind of led me down a particular path for inquiring more about therapeutics and also using bodywork to support people’s general function and body awareness so that they can move with with a greater degree of confidence and also move in ways that were were supportive of them. And I think eventually, eventually start to, what I think eventually ended up doing is I ended up creating my own language around it and decided to create my own system around it as well. And this is where Hañsa came, or what was born from: all these years of experience and observations of what works and what doesn’t work. And also, you know, the uniqueness of the practice and more importantly, how to present it in ways that has to adapt depending upon who’s in front of you. So I wanted to create a particular educational system that taught this to teachers. And so Hañsa therapeutics was born. And and so
How long ago was that?
Well, really, it was about five years ago that really, I cemented the process more. I mean, it was always developing towards this particular point where eventually is. I don’t want to call it Vincent Bolletta Yoga, I found that to be a little bit strange and because it was more about an idea and a, and a philosophy and so so five years ago, basically gave it a structure gave it a name. And then Hansa came from that. And so it’s been it’s taken 30 plus years to get to this point. And and I think it’s still evolving, personally, and I think it’s, yeah, it’s closely associated to my own personal experiences that I’m that I’ve had and still having. And but at the same time, I think it’s a practice that also is being added to by other people that are part of the Hañsa community and their understanding and my my observations of them. So I like to think of the of this process as something that’s not stuck or rigid that it does move according to what is needed at that moment. It does adapt itself to the demands. But there’s some really cool principles that hold it together as well.
Right? Yeah. I’m like, I’m very thankful that I come across Hañsa. And I’m very thankful that you’re creating this out of your years of experience in the industry and dealing with people so. So but why the name Hañsa? I mean, you could pick any names in the whole world and why Hañsa?
Well, that’s a that’s a really good question. I mean, we were sitting around a little coffee table. There’s three of us and trying to figure out you know, what is this process and what does it all mean? And And how can we define it through a single word? And, and the idea of the swan came about and Hañsa, really is, is the description of the swan in Sanskrit. And I really quite liked the word itself. And to me the Swan, well in many cultures the swan is seen as something that is graceful and elegant and there is a sort of transcendence into it as well. And, and, and it, I think also solidify the idea that you know, the Hañsa practice is about empowering individuals. So, you know, we all have our own inner teacher with our own inner knowing to some respect. So and the swan does represent the inner teacher. So it fitted really nicely I think it came about with with really finding the right look right word that was simple. And but that word being quite powerful and deep and
and then and it encapsulated also the last 30 years of practice and and i think Hañsa the swan really has done that.
Unknown Speaker 11:21
Yep, I think so I think it’s a beautiful word and the swan is a beautiful symbol to describe, I guess in picture format of what is Hañsa. But you mentioned about inner teacher. Can you talk a little bit more about that and how that idea of inner teacher is applied in the principle of Hañsa?
Sure, so, you know, with the principle of, of teaching and therapeutics it’s about becoming more sensitive to one’s own personal needs, but also looking at ways that sometimes we tend to sabotage what we need, and through certain habituation or certain expectations that have some flawed narratives associated to it. And so, the whole process is this, this voyage of discovery of what what is useful now may not be useful later on in the future and it’s trying to kind of filter through what what is appropriate what what is serving of us in this moment, and, and then at the same time becoming, you know, sensitised to these needs both physical energetic emotional as well. So it’s always re emphasising re emphasising, if you like, for the practitioner to, or the teacher to, encourage the practitioner to take responsibility for for themselves and encouraging and shifting the power dynamics towards more the student and encouraging the student become more discerning around what they do, and how they do it. And sometimes the reasons behind that. So, so the idea of the inner teacher fits really nicely with this process of trying to empower individuals to make decisions that’s appropriate to them and their life in that moment, and how to support and negate some of the habituations that tend to sometimes lead us astray.
Yeah, yeah, I feel that the discernment or like being our own teacher, takes a lot of awareness. And I feel that that might be the difficult part, in my opinion, how to start building that awareness so we can actually become our own teacher so we can actually see what is serving us, what is not serving us somehow, so we can actually make better decisions to, to pick something that is better for us. So, how do we create, like, make our awareness more sensitive, I guess?
Well, that’s a very good question because it isn’t, It isn’t that easy. it’s um, there is there is a number of default patterns that we fall into. But it basically starts with movement, the choices that we make with our body and also the way that we utilise our body in space. So and these movement really is an expression of our innermost motivations. So it so when we look at when we look at movement, we see now the way that I see it, it’s multi layered. So it’s not just a physical act, but there are certain pathways that people choose and those choices are sometimes, so reactive, and also unconsidered, not from a negative perspective, because they just become so deeply ingrained in our neurological system.
So it’s to strip it back first to the movement process. And then eventually, it starts to dig deeper and, and sensitise ourselves to both the way that we move and the quality of that movement. But then also, you know, the reasons why we move in particular ways whether it be posturely orientated, or just moving across the room in a particular way. And so, is to strip it back to what I called the seed form. So, really making the movements really small initially, and so that we can become more observant, because then when the movements are quite small, there’s little disturbance, the mind can be a little bit more attentive. So the movement is is reduced, the mind becomes much more attentive, so it becomes much more mindful of the situation or what is presented to them. And then this is where the work begins. And you’re right, in some respects of what you’re alluding to. It’s a practice. So it does does take time. And it is built over time outs in our sensitivities, and obviously, our observational powers. And so, you know, the system itself starts at, you know, with the body but eventually moves more and more to the more abstract rounds of our mind and fields of attention and some of the narratives that we we align with that determine some of their reactivities in our physical structures or movement and movement processes.
Right, right. So all this I mean, we talk about movements and And one big part of Hañsa is the flow, the Hañsa flow. On the surface obviously is such a beautiful choreographed sequence that is done quite differently than any other flow sequence out there. So, can you talk a little bit more about that and how what you just mentioned with with the seed of it, how does, how can people find that through the Hañsa flow?
Sure, absolutely. So, all the seed practices are aligned with some basic developmental processes and patterns. So and these developmental patterns are just basically the way we learn to move our bodies and eventually, you know, as a young child move from lying, to rolling, to hands and knees, to squatting, to eventually standing. So, you know, when we strip back movement to these basic fundamentals, what happens is that we start to see where these fundamentals break down. And where the fundamentals break down also general function breaks down as well. And and in associated with this lack of functionality, also these overall general lack of sensitivity and awareness to that part of the body or to that movement process.
So as we as we build on these seed practices, what’s starts to happen is, we start to see movement is a continuum rather than these kind of individuated processes. And so the Hañsa flow basically was has developed from this continuum and Hañsa flow basically expands on the seed practices in particular ways that’s much more elaborate and much more expressive, and obviously, has a much more and what would you call it, and it’s much more expansive in ways in terms of the way that, we we we express the seed processes.
And so Hañsa flow for me is basically a therapeutic practice. And because it’s alignment to the developmental stages of our physicality. And it’s done in a particular way that challenges not and not just that the development of and the functionality of our body but also encourages us to become more self aware on a three dimensional plane. It also encourages us to sense space in the same way. It also encourages to support ourselves when we enlarge patterns of movement to consider that support from the inside out. Because there’s certain choreographic components to it. It’s also about challenging one’s cognition and heightening that level. And but it’s, more importantly, it’s about moving with a sense of ease and grace and a measuring movement. From the sense of ease rather than effort. And so what I like the thing that that Hansa flow has, and in comparison to what may be other practices out there is that movement should be easy, or we’re looking for pathways that enable a sense of ease and fluidity. And so and if we’re struggling with a certain pattern of movement, and then it’s about how we navigate that pattern, how we problem solve the situation so that we can become more efficient in the way that we move and from A to B as an example.
So it’s encouraging. Yeah, it’s encouraging really much more greater conversation around what movement is. Movement is not just the physical process of moving your levers in space and muscular patterns and and maybe Trying to coordinate these muscular patterns, but it’s also about perception. And it’s also about attitude. And it’s also what we what we align with in terms of motivation. And so this to me is really important because it also encourages a much broader view of the human experience when the body is moving. And, and to me, this is much more, what I’ve seen in the past at least, much more successful in navigating habituation is that seemed to be really difficult to change and people’s bodies. When we expand the conversation, just beyond just the mechanics of it. I mean, it’s easy to be mechanical, it’s easy, it’s easy to be linear, but to change a habit or to change a postural tendency, there has to be a deeper purpose and reasoning through that individual. There has to be also an emotional content that gives gives it more reason to change And so if we can expand the conversation incorporate these things as I’ve started to notice that there’s greater degree of transformation that starts to happen.
That’s interesting though because I mean, if you want to change something, in movement there’s so many components in a movement. If you compare it by fixing it in a mechanical way, you can easily like just point to one part and obviously can try to change that. But with movement, suddenly there’s so many things you have to pay attention to. But you said that you’re seeing that it is a better way to integrate change when you’re trying to change certain habits? Is that right?
Yeah, well the change happens when when the conversation is broader, rather than being narrowed to a basic function and mechanics. Mechanics and functions are important. And but if we become stuck in those conversations, then generally the underlying pattern doesn’t generally change. And so yeah, so what we’re encouraging is a greater degree of connectivity to to the pattern from not just the physical component, but from a level of perception, interpretation, motivation and attitude as well.
Right. Okay, so some more of a integrated outlook of it all Yeah, like you said, broaden the perspective. Right. And I want to,
Sorry, just interrupt for a moment. But when the body is moving, everything is moving. So it’s not just one muscle, but there’s a whole variety of things that are happening at the same time. And it’s not just, you know, physical, it’s also if you want to go to your breathing rhythms to also the way that your mind is operating and also riding the rhythm of that movement. So when you move, everything moves, so one clear thing that I encourage the students to look is rhythms. Rhythms are really important. Energetic rhythms, breath rhythms, your mind has a certain rhythm to it as well. And it’s quite interesting that these rhythms are energetic. Waves of energetic rhythm. So once we start to become more observant of these rhythms, we can start to see both the consequences of these patterns and at the same time, you know, we can choose when is most appropriate to interrupt it so that the outcome is different. And the way that we interrupt it is also another something is something else in question to. But really Hañsa flow is about the observation of rhythms, that is based upon certain certain grounded physical functions that are developmental and evolutionary in their way and but it has to be more than just that, as I said. The conversation needs to expand more to also the mental aspect.
Right. So we’ve talked about the flow, but a big part of Hañsa is also the therapy aspect of it. And flow is derived from that. And so when it comes to rhythm, is this something that you also observe when it comes to, to Hañsa therapy and to the therapeutic elements of it?
Yeah, absolutely. And one thing that we teach in Hañsa therapeutics is observation or diagnosis and assessment. And so, and there’s multiple assessments, from clinical to movement, to energetics, to manual assessments as well. And each assessment sort of kind of expands on the previous one and by the end of it, you should have an overall good general viewpoint of that person’s tendencies, postural tendencies, and the way that they will organise themselves in space. And so, and what happens is that most habituation or habits have its particular rhythm to them, you know, or sometimes I say they have a particular sound to them. Okay, yeah, like a song, you know, people’s habits have a song to them, it has a beginning, middle and end and then it kind of repeats itself.
And so, okay. So the therapeutics is all about observation. So, when I’m teaching teachers, really what I’m teaching them to do is to become more observant. And one of the things about the therapeutics that I like is that the more you become self observant of your own particular needs and some of the things that you’re doing, there’s a quite interesting paradoxical process that starts to happen is that you start to see other people in more clearly as well. To be, for me to be a good yoga teacher is all about having good powers of observation. And, and, and what are you observing? human behavior, human tendencies on on all levels and because most people’s, if you like physical issues are related to a repetitive pattern, and that the body now can’t deal with it or cope with it anymore. And so to me that this is really important, if you can see these patterns, then you can interrupt these patterns in a very, very subtle way to redirect it in a particular way that the outcome is now slightly different.
Right. So is it right to say that Hañsa is a study of one’s behavior? I mean, more importantly, our own behavior?
Yeah, yeah. One of the Hañsa philosophies is the study of of one’s experience that we’re having And try to be as objective and discerning as possible around it. Sometimes when we study experiences, we can, you know, compound subjectivities. So the study of our experience, the study of, of the consequences of that experience is also really important. I mean, but we use different tools, you know, and like I said, we have diagnosis, clinical diagnosis, we also have the idea of bodywork too that heightens our sensitivities. We have also specific rehabilitated tools that we work with that, again, are directed towards restoring function, and working at and reclaiming certain neurological patterns or neuromuscular patterns that have become out of sync. So, we have these sets of tools and particular structures that are in place for the teachers to utilise. But also there’s enough flexibility available to them that they can adapt to the situation that’s in front of them or the individual that’s sitting in front of them.
Yeah. And Hañsa a lot of teacher trainings. And as you mentioned before, that you teach a lot of teachers as well. But I feel that is actually the things that is taught in all the different trainings actually is really good for everybody. I feel that it can benefit everybody actually, wouldn’t you agree?
Yes, I agree. I mean, I think Yoga is for everybody. So we have to create a platform that that’s accessible. Sometimes, you know, current situations in the yoga community, you know, certain practices are not accessible to people because, you know, it requires a high skill level function. Sometimes beyond what people can do. But to me yoga should be accessible to everybody. So the practice is adaptable to the individual needs. I think this is really important. And then then Yoga is serving people in particular ways that I think honours the if you like, the tradition. So it is for everybody, I think the practice should be for everybody. And I think if we can approach the practice with the idea of therapeutics, or at least through the lens of therapeutics, and then we can make choices around sequencing, what postures we choose, more appropriate to the situation, to the classes to the individuals that come into those classes.
Yeah, I absolutely agree. I like the adaptable elements of the Hañsa flow, particularly. I like seeing how people with no experience of yoga before come and take like Hañsa fow classes. And again, seeing immediately how their mobility improved how their stability improves, and how just from a simple Hañsa flow, there’s already changes in the body that brings them better balance. So yeah, my, this is one of my favorite reason why I love the Hañsa flow so much.
Yeah. And for me that the narrative around Hañsa, the Hañsa flow is to make it easy. You know, how can you bring grace and beauty to your movement? I think this is this is very different to the way that sometimes yoga is spoken about. And when we had that kind of approach and motivation or theme behind our practice in our classes, I think as you’ve just experienced yourself in your own teaching. No, people do align with it that really beautifully and we do start to see changes. Changes that I think are surprising for a lot of people.
Yeah. And the idea of easy I don’t think it’s something that is difficult for a lot of people just because, that’s life in general, for some reason, we’ve been conditioned to strive hard or to work hard to put so much effort into the things we do that to, to change the perspective and start doing things in an easy way is is difficult for a lot of people and that takes adjustment. And people have their own perception as well because easy, some people take the word easy to be, what do you call that? Like, like a collapse almost, like there’s there’s no energy to it. When easy actually requires a lot of stability and a certain kind of power? Yes. So it’s interesting when it’s, a part of this whole thing is also to to have that shift in perspective.
it’s a shift in perspective, it’s a reorientating one’s values as well around effort. It’s also understanding that easy is not necessarily a weakness, easy actually enables you to be more adaptable to the situation, and more sensitive to the situation as well. So that you know, it gives you greater choice too, easy. And it’s a it’s a way of navigating obstacles in particular way that makes it more sustainable. And if we have to push against obstacle, or we have to force ourselves through obstacles. That’s not a very sustainable thing to be able to do. Our body loses its resilience over time. We do get older. So learning how to navigate our life, our movements, our choices. Through this one word, you know, ease or sometimes I use the word grace. I think it’s very powerful. Very, very powerful. We we taste the movement more, we become more intelligent and the way that we use our body. And as I said before, the way we navigate obstacles are also much more considered and much more discerning.
Right. So with Hañsa, what actually is your intention? Like you’re teaching a lot of people you’re spreading this principles and philosophy? What would you like to see most in people by sharing Hañsa?
Oh, I think for me Hansa is something that grows. That’s and and something that actually is independent of me. And that, you know, I mean, I have some priciples that I that I work with and follow. And I think it’s a practice that is for everyone, as we said, and something that enables people to reclaim if you like and empower themselves. Hopefully it helps people navigate life not just the way that they move but the way they live. I think it’s a it’s a practice that aligns to helping and serving people. I think that any yoga practice any worthy yoga practice really is there in the service of people rather than the other way round. So for me, you know, Hañsa is about the individual. It is about also creating creating a community that supports itself and and supports others. I think it’s to me Hañsa, it’s a philosophy more than anything else. I don’t think it’s an it’s a philosophy that like, I think what we’ve seen yoga over many hundreds of years develop and evolve, according to who is viewing it and who is practicing it. So, you know, I’m, the hope is that just this this thing Hañsa, this this process called Hañsa, you know what we know of it today in 10 years time is going to be different again, in a way that’s much more serving of of the public or the individuals that are in front of it.
It will be so interesting to see it in 10 years time. I mean, how much difference Have you seen in the last five years in the evolution of Hañsa?
Lots actually and I think you know, one of my flaws and one of my I suppose strength is I can be quite abstract. And so and so over the years, you know Because I’m trying to create a structure to be able to present my, my experiences, what I’ve noticed is that it’s a much more tangible format now that I’m working with, which is really, really great. And so it’s much more, there’s more, it’s much more concrete in the way that it’s when it’s expressed and protocols in place that serves people’s interests and supports them. Also, animation, there’s a, there’s a much more logic to it. So it’s already evolved so much from the early days where it was just this, you know, numerous experiences trying to be filtered through and to this kind of conversation. But now now there’s more structure to it, and I think that’s a good thing. And, but my hope is that that the structure doesn’t become too crystallised and that it still remains loose enough or open enough for different interpretations to come in and different experiences to reinform it.
Yeah, yeah. So just to summarize some of the things that we’ve talked about, if you were to pick three words to describe a Hañsa, what would it be? Or what are the three things again?
Okay, well, so So we work with ease. So I like the word ease, I think, I think you could even replace that with grace. I do like the idea of flow. And I and when I say flow, it’s, it’s something that’s quite deep and meditative and has depth to it. And I always associate water with that. And the last one, I think, again, it comes down to the idea of self empowerment. Taking responsibility for our life, taking responsibility for our choices. Good and bad. So yeah, so it’s about giving the person the choice, the tools, the resources to be able to deal with that. So, for me, that’s what what Hañsa is, is to empower people is to move it and move away from some of these dogmatic processes that we see, in most cases
Yeah, I agree with you when you say that. It’s like tools because to me, Hañsa, Hañsa to me has given me tools to understand who I am, not just the way I move but the way I think and the way I perceive things. And not just that it also gives me tool to navigate areas where I find barriers or problems. So there’s a lot about problem solving and how to how to support myself. So to me Hañsa is all that, like tools to help navigate me, myself when I move or navigate life in general.
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I did think about this in that, you know, I may have mentioned it in one of the previous podcasts, but you know, hopefully it’s tools to help you live well and die well. Yeah.
Yeah. We all want to die well, yes.
That’s right. Yeah. So yeah,
So not many people have encountered Hañsa before. So where can people find Hañsa? Where if they just want to practice the flow, or if they want to take workshops, and they want to do training?
this is your marketing bit.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s right. Well, the best thing is to go online at www.Hañsa.yoga. And you’ll find everything there in terms of schedules. There’s online practices as well, which have been more and more updated. There’s trainings, there’s also some descriptions about Hañsa and certain pathways, if you’re interested in becoming a teacher or therapist, that gives you some background information around the pathway that you follow. So it’s all online basically. But you know, you can follow us on Facebook and Instagram, just opened a Twitter account.
You did? Alright we’re gonna be on Twitter guys, I guess.
You know, and then we have have these, obviously, these podcasts. And so you’ll find those in a variety of different platforms. One is Patreon and then there’s others like anchor.fm, and so forth. So So yeah, so we’re around. So yeah, if you just Google us, I suppose, or Yahoo, or whatever is your search engine? I’m sure we’re on there.
Yes. And some areas of this world, there are some local teachers. And you have a few in New Zealand and you have a few in China. Yeah.
Yeah, there’s a few in New Zealand, few in Indonesia, like yourself.
Yeah. And there’s a few. There’s a few in China as well. Hoping to expand Hañsa and more into into Europe too sometime in the near future.
Cool. All right. Well, I think that’s a good wrap up for this episode of Hañsa. If you have any questions, write to us. Maybe email us and we’ll try to answer any other questions about Hañsa in future episodes of this podcast. But yes, thank you, everybody for listening. And thank you, Vincent for sharing your story. Always such a pleasure listening to them.
You’re welcome, Thank you very much Meta for your time again.
Thank you and we’ll see you in the next Hañsa Conversations.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa conversations a podcasts. Please follow Hansa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. To learn more about Hañsa at hansa.yoga on the web, where you can also purchase online practice videos to practice at home. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to get updates on our latest news. So join us on the next Hansa conversations and thank you for listening
Ep. 3 – Change
With the COVID-19 pandemic, our whole world has changed. In this episode, we talk about change and why dealing with change is difficult? This pandemic has also brought yoga & wellness classes to online platforms. We discussed its possible impacts on the practice of yoga and how we can maintain our self-practice during this time of change.
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta Welcome to Hañsa conversations- a podcast. The Hansa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome, and listen in.
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Hañsa conversation with me, Meta, from Hañsa Indonesia and Vincent, the founder and director of Hañsa. We hope everybody’s doing well, today. How are you, Vincent?
I’m good. Thank you. Coming to the end of my quarantine here in Beijing, so facing potential freedom on Friday.
That is very, very exciting. I hope you find your freedom soon.
Yeah, that’s right. Me too. Me too. Okay. Otherwise, things are flowing, I think, nicely, as they are. And yeah, so each day is a new day.
That is very true each day is a new day. Well, that actually lead us to the topic that we want to talk about this week, which is change because everybody can see it that our lives now is changing. We are made to stay at home, do work from home and just find things to create in a confined of a space. So, there’s a lot of changes that happened lately, including in the yoga and the wellness industry. So with change, what I’ve been seeing or hearing from people, is that there has been a lot of anxiety and adjustment just just trying to deal with all the changes that we have to face these days, so just wondering, why is it so hard for us humans to face change? Any ideas, Vincent?
Thank you, I think I think we are creatures of habit. And there’s certain comfort to be had and knowing what’s going to happen day in and day out, gives us a sense of security and, and at the same time we can build on a future really. I think it’s, it’s not easy to change because of those internal driven factors. And I think they’re very primal in their organisation. Everything is ultimately about survival. And so and these are inbuilt mechanisms that really create opportunities for us to survive or thrive really in many respects in the environments that we are in. So Change is hard. From I suppose a biological evolutionary perspective. Change is also hard from an emotional relationship as well because we do get accustomed to certain experiences. And also we place a lot of value on those experiences as well. And that gives us a sense of purpose and to continue to pursue whatever it is that we deem to be important. And so, you know, change, change is not an easy matter and sometimes, you know, it requires a great shift. And now, current reality, like we’re seeing now, for for something to change, or at least for our attitudes to perceive something to be perceived another possible way.
So if we are a creature of comfort and change challenge, that idea of comfort, what can we do? I mean, to find certain measures of comfort when everything is changing, there’s so much unknown right now in the world. When it comes to life, career mortality, how do you find little pockets of comfort?
Well, the first thing is we become desensitised to discomfort. And
What do you mean by that?
Well, when we’re in our comfort zones, you know, we’re always looking at the path of least resistance in terms that doesn’t challenge our attitudes and opinions and also some of our choices. And so, so we always gravitate to, you know, pathways that reinforce already well, what we know what we do. So these comfort zones in themselves do imprison us in a in a sensory world where we’re only seeking things that are comfortable we are only thinking things that maintain the status quo. So So discomfort becomes something avoided and also we become desensitized to this conflict in other words, we we don’t see it as of value we don’t see it how this conflict can be beneficial in creating a change or indicating to the body or to us that there is a problem. So I think I think it’s a it’s a double edged sword, you know, because too much discomfort can shy us away from actual change itself, but too little also can keep us in prison and within the status quo. There’s a critical thresh, yea, there’s a critical threshold that I think that we work towards that enables us to see both worlds and have value in both what you know, the pleasure and the pain and how, you know, sometimes actually pleasure too much pleasure too much conflict can lead to eventual discomfort within us. And this is what we’ve been seeing since from an environmental perspective, you know, the conflicts of, of modern day living is creating certain scenarios where, in actual fact, you know, we that that standard of living has been threatened. Cause we’re creating so much consequence through seeking to maintain and our levels of quality of life, elements of choice. All those things come into question.
Okay. So with discomfort, yes, there’s a critical threshold. How can we be okay with some level of discomfort so that we are not desensitised from it?
Well, that’s that’s a good question. And I think, you know, I always go back to what is the practice of yoga and the practice of yoga enables us to build resources both physically, emotionally and on a psychic level, to deal with more to deal with the reality of actually what life is and that is that there is a dualistic relationship that we need to have and that is based upon comfort and discomfort.
Right. It just never stop I think, it’s like a constant dance, I feel, that finding that balance between being okay with certain level of discomfort and then after you being okay with that level of discomfort then in a way we find certain comfort in the new situation or environment that we’re in before, then realising how much are we attached to that sense of pleasure that comes from it, which going to disrupt again, the so called status quo, where discomfort comes again, it’s a constant cycle that never ends. It just goes on and on.
It does, it does. And, you know, I don’t think it’s as black and white. I do think sometimes the choices that we make to support our selves, strategies that really negate pain. So even though we create a particular scenario for ourselves, or we create certain behavioral modes, to avoid discomfort, those behavioral modes in time actually become the problem. And sometimes it’s very easy to delude ourselves. And I was thinking about this just before and how there is so many avenues of deception that don’t allow us to move in the direction of true change. There is always these kind of piecemeal approaches there we we go into, thinking that then themselves the change that we want, in actual fact, they’re not, then there is this deceptive relationship that we have with true change. And most of the time, I think, what happens is that we keep reinforcing the attitudes, opinions and and reasons why we do what we do. So and there’s numerous and we can find numerous reasons why we do what we do. But true change happens at a really deep core level of one’s belief system and also attitude.
Okay. So when something happens from the external like right now where, like change is being given upon us we have to adjust and deal with it. Is this really just an agent of true deeper change, but it’s up to us how we deal with it or how we come upon finding what is that true change within us?
Well, you know, and when something happens like this, some some really important questions arise and, and some really important discussions also need to be had. And, you know, at the, in the initial period of this sort of kind of scenario that we’re in, when our world has been, you know, turned upside down, if you like, and there’s a certain element of being stunned by it. That is the time to really inquire In the unknown, and where would our resistance to it and that resistance usually comes up as forms of fear. And that is that is the time to really start to investigate because before you know, it’s that brief moment of of not been able to put the situation that we’re in in a particular category that we can understand it’s beyond our ability to make sense of it. So there is a purity to that.
But then once the initial situation is subsided, then we start to build up a construct of reason why things are they are, where it needs to be or how it’s going to go. And, you know, we start to sort of try and anticipate the next day the next moment, you know, so that we have a sense of security around the situation, which is so totally unknown and foreign to us because it’s completely if you like, for some turned your world right upside down, you know, yeah, and, and so, so it’s easy then to use the constructs of the way that we’ve perceived life before the change has happened to then try and make sense of this new situation and usually it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a square peg in a round hole, it doesn’t fit. And so, rather than trying to escape this new experience with with old reasoning or old patterns and old, old, worldviews, it’s best to stay in the experience and really sense what it is that is presented for us personally and then, you know, bigger picture sense of the community, you know, culture as well. It’s, you know, the way that I think see life now it’s more of a global culture rather than sort of these individual islands or tribes, then you know, this, this process seems to be more polarising now, as I see this more that we all inter dependent and from a technological perspective, this is much more obvious now, and our economies as well are like that.
So, you know, in saying that, we we can easily become defensive, because of the fear that we have around things, the uncertainties, we can become more separated from from this idea. And so, those those initial experiences that they they are, they are waiting for us to engage in a conversation with the unknown feeling that we don’t generally gravitate towards. And, and that that moment is the most, I would say, the most pure moment to really start to talk about what change is because it’s completely foreign in terms of, you know, just logic and terms of logic where we are as a community as individuals, but more importantly, our fears, our emotions, and what sensations physically we’re having.
Yeah. And you said earlier in the conversation that well, the practice of yoga is teaching us tools to actually deal with situation like this, with change. And I think a lot of people are seeking practices like yoga and Qigong to help them manage this difficult times. And what this change has brought so far and also how people manage the new situation that we have to deal with is bringing classes to to the web. To online level and on one level, I do see this sort of global community coming together because now there’s no longer that boundaries of a physical studio that people can access classes from allover the world, which is quite nice so far. But how do you think this new practice that we have all this Live classes affect Yoga?
Yeah, that’s, that’s a, that’s an interesting scenario that’s evolved and I’m more in the observational mode around that I do have some some concerns as well. And at the same time, I see the positives around this. And now for me Yoga is it’s all about relationships. And you know, in some sense, we are bringing communities together from from one perspective, but then at the same time, just by the sheer fact of, you know, being in isolation and, and having these moments where we are not interacting with people, which is also an advantage to, to eliminate those distractions to go more inwardly and start to cultivate a contemplative mind is, I think is also, you know, it’s quite important and I think these that these, this is a global opportunity really to, to move into these meditative fields because we have now these opportunities that the distractions have been eliminated. And then at the same time, you know, as a byproduct of these more interconnected relationships through the social media of yoga, that, you know, we’re missing the opportunity to become more contemplative, and and to switch off from these things, rather than delve more deeply into it. That seems to be be happening.
And then at the same time, you know, I’ve always been, you know, as an as a catch 22 and it’s I’m part of the system but critical of the commercialisation of of yoga in a particular way that, again, limits the person’s experience to more superficial rounds of sensing oneself. I do have some questions around around the, you know, online processes and weather that we have, you know, because of just by the sheer fact that we don’t have human human contact and it’s more virtual now that there is the relationship that yoga talks about the intimacy that yoga talks about is even more reduced with these online situations.
But you know, I do understand the reasons why we do we doing this I mean, there is some, you know, practicalities involved and you know, It’s all part of a larger system of supporting one’s livelihood. And so I do I do get that. And as I said, I’m part of that system too. But I did, how can we construct, you know, an opportunity and within these online processes where rather than just offering, you know, one off classes, but can we possibly offer more a educational process where we take people on a journey a period of six weeks or more, can we also encourage people within that time to do some self work, you know, rather than always, you know, because you’re doing yoga at home online doesn’t mean you’re doing a self practice.
And I when I when I think of a self practice it’s completely devoid of any superficial motivational factors. It’s definitely coming from the inside out and not and when you start practicing by yourself without any of these other aspects to what practice is, in terms of, you know, teacher in terms of sequences or what have you, when you start to sit down and really inquire What is it, who is it wants to practice, then yoga really does come to life at that point. Because it touches upon the most deepest aspect of who we are in terms of, you know, some of the values that we have about ourselves about life and some of the opinions with that extensions of these values. And, you know, as I said, if we’re looking at changing anything, it has to go straight back, stripped back to its seed form. So I do see I do see the value of online work, but then at the same time, I’m carefully observing its consequences. And and then what would the new Brave New World be like for the yoga community? When, when things do go back to, if you like, you know, the normal? What we’ve always perceived normal to be?
And, you know, do these new modes of communication, persists? Do yoga studios now, add this to the already current business process? Does that mean technology becomes even more important in the way that we do business? And if so, then how do we safeguard against these factors where we can become easily isolated, as well from from communities, as we know what social media does, and also how it can misrepresent you know values and also, you know, practices that require intimacy, commitment and a level of responsibility. So, yeah, so I’m still in that observational mode.
It’s, it’s hard, isn’t it? I mean, I think then it’s up to us individuals on becoming even more aware of the intention behind doing certain things. Because when we take classes, these online yoga classes on one side I think they’re wonderful because they still give people the sense of community that there are people out there that we’re all in this together, and it’s good to see other people as I see a lot of that is quite important in one way, but then, then it’s up to the individual to also understand that we’re not doing that to run away from the discomfort because it’s so much easier to just switch off the mind and take class from somebody else for a little bit and then move on with the day. But I think right now, like you said, it’s quite important too to do a real self practice where we give time to be quiet to just connect back with what is it we’re actually experiencing. But I also understand this is not easy, it takes practice, because a lot of the discomfort that we talked about earlier are going to come up so so maybe this is about bringing the responsibility back to ourselves on knowing which practice is more serving for us at every single day, I guess. Because every day is so different.
I think i think it’s, again, I like I said there is a positive and with any positive there’s a negative associated to it and it does depend on on the situation. And but if it becomes the new norm and it becomes the new norm for reasons of just, you know, compounding already what people were doing before. And it’s not to say that, you know, that online work can’t create transformative effect. But, I think we have to, we have to, you know, just walk very slowly around these processes. And, and I again, you know, it’s it’s one of those situations that it’s arisen and it’s and it’s interesting to observe and I’m part of, I’m part of that equation as well. So I’m observing myself in it, as I do have, I do have a few, not necessarily doubts, but questions around it and I, and also then I am starting to conclude certain opinions and I want to play devil’s advocate a little bit as well around the process, so that it’s not a complete buy in on my part because I you know, live Is not that simple in terms of it’s how we navigate things. And, and I do understand that businesses, teachers are struggling, I’m part of that equation. Yeah, livelihoods have been affected. So this, to me makes perfect sense in the way that we are now constructing ourselves and or be, you know, behaving in a particular way.
But, you know, again, you know, as we’re moving towards a technological age, where, you know, businesses probably going to be done at home, you know, you know, toying around with virtual yoga studios, rather than, you know, tangible you know, studios that had these large overheads and, and so forth to maintain, to offer people classes and may shift now to a different paradigm of, of expressing what Yoga is. And we we’re becoming, we will become more reliant on technology is as is evident at the moment, you know, in terms of the way that we communicating doing business, and obviously, in terms of our economies, it seems to be the case. Yeah,
I can definitely see that happening. I mean technology taking a rise. We we were on that path before anyway with so many classes going online. But, there’s a worry though. In my mind, I really picture, when we were talking, I really pictured, scenes from films like Wall-E, when we all just become so individual with our VR and and we forget this, we forget how to become a community and we forget how to interact with other people in real life. And I feel that the traditional yoga classes yoga studios is a big part of these interactions, then I worry what will happen if those become reduced?
Yeah, yeah. Again it you know, to me Yoga is a very personal journey and and I think if we generalise the process that in the past has happened and if we become generic about our approach to this journey, intimacy and sensitivity is lost and and i think how do we keep that alive so I think it’s a good challenge rather than being something that isn’t it can be of a negative i think it’s it gives us opportunities to become more creative and how to maybe express those values or express those ideas in ways that we can still honour you know, the individual nature of the practice and especially the individual needs of the practitioner.
And so to me, this is kind of what I teach in terms of therapeutics and and how we can start to take responsibility for ourselves, what are the tools? Are those tools clearly understood? Can they be practiced in ways that are accessible? And does you know the opportunity present itself in a way that these tools can be passed on in ways that really do support people? So that’s, that’s it. I think these are really, really important questions. And I think that at the same time, you know, I think that there’s not they’re just obstacles to navigate and I think we can become very we are very clever as a human species. So I think we can figure it out somewhere along the line.
Yeah, yeah. So on just on a practical level, oh sorry go ahead
Yeah, yeah. No, I just I think there always be a few who are rebellious and, and maybe I’m one of them and we were trying to maintain a level of, rebellious or antiquated I don’t know. So, so. So you know, so there’d be a few that will buck against the system? I’m sure.
I’m sure I am very sure. But yeah, what I wanted to say was just to bring it on a more practical level because now, this has become our new normal, doing classes online. And you also have online classes, online videos, and you’re going to give probably more live classes. But just as an advice when people are taking these online classes, what can people do to bring the experience more for themselves I guess? I’m not sure if I’m making myself clear, but sort of still building the intimacy that they have towards their own practice and using this the tools that you have or the online classes as a way to to bring yoga back to themselves?
Yeah, that’s a good question. And I think you know, what you learn on the online class, start to try and apply in your, in a practice that doesn’t require you to be watching the screen. See if you can start to create space for yourself that’s independent of these, these scenarios. So that you’re you’re now doing a self practice. And so use online classes opportunity to learn new skills or, or sequences that you can follow for yourself by yourself. And I think this this is a good opportunity because then you have to invest time to learn what it is that you that you were taught. And then you have to create the time for you then to do it into again, start to figure it out with your body, what this process is, and then at the same time, my recommendation there would be to choose classes that really then enable level of intensity that you can achieve quite easily and then And that you’re able to manage yourself in space.
I mean, generally, you know, offline classes when you’re in a yoga studio and you’re in a class, I mean, there’s a general compromise between teacher and student, the teacher can’t look after everybody and and then the student should not expect the teacher to look after everybody. There is certain protocols that you’ll have to support people. But ultimately, it’s about choices. And you can’t you can’t eliminate wow, you know, people’s choices. So. So when you put yourself in an online situation, I think the compromises just gets ramped up a little bit more because the teacher really can’t see you.
So you just have to be just more conscious of what you do and how you do it. Choose practices that fit your situation and your body. And we all have our favorite teachers, and I think most of these teachers now producing online classes. So, so yes, absolutely do the classes but somehow fit in time. Fit in a moment or create a space. Yeah, that enables you to connect.
Right, right. So I was thinking while you’re talking that maybe one part that is missing from all this online platform is a little bit more guidance and some teacher student relationship, because in a class, yes, the teacher can’t pay attention to everybody, obviously. But there’s always time when the student can ask questions after class, for example, or something that they’re confused. Maybe that’s what educators these days, or teachers can provide as a bridge between these online practices and self-practices, maybe?
Yeah, no, absolutely. I, you know, I’ve just taught it on an online class today. And I was it was basically, not even online classes, an online lecture, I was just trying to encourage people to connect with a couple of tools that they’ve been, they can practice by themselves. And you know, and it was more for me discussion, which I think is very important. It’s not just about moving your body, it’s about also the nuances of movement and also some of the technicalities of supporting oneself and the situation. So I do, I have been enjoying these online, lectures, classes, stroke classes, because it is now more conversational for me, you know, because there is the opportunity to talk through processes and and i think One of the benefits possibly that I see is that rather than just giving people an experience, like you would go to a yoga studio, now you’re giving people tools and resources to be asble to now develop their own personal practice. And they’ve got time to do that personal practice. Because, you know, I’ve been in isolation for 14 days, I think there’s lots of people around the world in isolation I know in New Zealand, they’re in isolation for a month or so. Yeah. So, so there, there is now these opportunities that we can create schedules for ourselves, create that space, a sacred space that we can now go into, and my hope is that these opportunities, you know, can persist long after these events as well.
I think the big adjustments that, as practitioners, that we need to make is that it might be simple to think about but hard to do, is that change in perspective that suddenly now we have the time, I think we talked about this in the first podcast. But even now, even now, after what day 12 of my isolation, I still forget that I actually have the time. So I do my day as if I don’t have the time to just do a self practice that’s longer, that’s so difficult. I didn’t even realise it until like, lately.
Yeah, yeah. So, so yeah, I totally agree. So that means we have the opportunity to create change right now. And it’s a fine edge, you know, it’s a fine edge, we can flip back easily to what we have been doing. Or we can do this new thing in the same way that we’ve done the old thing, which then really what that means nothing has changed. So, so and I heard and this is a great statement from a friend of mine, Graham Mead and he said it this way, which is really cool. And so, “the mind that created the problem can’t solve the problem.” So that means basically change the mind, change the way the mind operates change the way that the mind perceives things, the values that it has about certain things that needs to change too. So it’s a radicalisation. And we are in that beautiful opportunity right now to be radical enough, I think within our own personal space, who to give us ourselves opportunity for that change. And is there for the offering, you know, definitely there for the offering. So time will tell.
So talking about time do you know how long normally does it take for something to change? Because I, I don’t know. I think it takes bloody long time to change something.
Well, the interesting thing it’s, I think it’s quite a deep discussion change because, you know, we we’re changing all the time. And I think the Serenity Prayer is a beautiful prayer that kind of talks about change, you know, and some things we can change and some things, we just have to accept what they are. And knowing the difference between the, knowing the difference between the two, I think, is the practice and the journey of yoga. And as we become more discerning, we know that we need to be putting more efforts in one thing than the other thing, because the other thing is just one of those things, we can’t really change. You know, we can’t change certain aspects of ourselves, but some things we can.
And so I like the idea that the yoga practice and the resources that it offers and tools that it provides, um makes us just that little bit more discerning around the whole process of what it is to be in this body and to go through the experiences that we, we go through. And then some of these things that we are doing are negating our happiness, our where our well being, and what are the tools? What are what are the attitudes, what is the approach that we need to make the change happen.
And so and so, it’s so that’s why it’s not easy because it takes time. It takes commitment, it takes commitment, and I’m and I’m afraid I’m the person that advocates, you know, slow transformative processes rather than these quick, sudden moments of enlightened states. I don’t tend to agree with those because my observation of the human condition and the people that I’ve seen, things take time, you know, and, and, and, and maybe, you know, with technology and our general pace of life, you know, we now don’t perceive to have time. But we do, we do have time. And it’s just a matter of making that choice to say we do. And then creating the opportunity opportunities for that time to be presented.
Yeah, and I like what you said earlier, it’s a great reminder that we are constantly changing. I mean, on an a biology level, we are constantly changing. So maybe the key here is also to just accept that, that that statement that we are constantly changing, instead of thinking that we are a static human being with a static life, and therefore the idea of change is just becoming so difficult when we see it from the perspective that well, even right now as I’m speaking, I’m changing then maybe it’s easier to go through the process.
It can be easier, I think, also, one reason why we don’t accept change because change indicates it’s it’s it’s an expression of also decay you know yeah and so it’s it’s one of those probably innate reactions of you know wanting to keep status quo in our lives wanting to maintain a level of knowing and but change really is quite chaotic aye? there is there’s elements that we can’t control and so you know chaos tends to unground us as we’re finding out. So changes is is chaos and we fight so hard to try and keep an element of order around of our lives because we know that the alternative which is chaos is representation really of a deconstruction of everything that we know and who we are and eventually it may indicate death and this is this is maybe the the, you know, the story or Shiva, you know, the destroyer Yeah, You know. So for any for anything new to appear, it has to, you know, deconstruct to a level where something fresh and new can grow from it. That’s very different to what was originally there.
Yeah, yeah, you’re right. You’re right that, I think it’s quite important to remember the importance of the destroyer. That reminds me of one thing from the Balinese culture which is, it’s called Tridatu or three colors, so they, we see a lot of Balinese, they, they walk around with a bracelet made out of threads of black and white and red and it’s a symbol of the three phases of life, the birth, the life itself, the nurturing phase, as well as destruction and how the three of them are very important and interlinked. That one leads to the other and you have to, we have to accept the destruction as part of life as it is, in order to bring something new to have birth again.
That’s right, and you know, and this can be at the most intimate level of experience, you know, I can, I mean, we can all align with breathing patterns. And we can we know that, you know, a breath in as an example has a beginning, but it must have a middle and then it must have an end. So everything is cyclic, and even our experiences has a beginning, middle and end. So, our ability to connect on such an intimate process, intimate way in these processes, I think is essential. I think it’s really important. I think it does direct the viewers attention to more that life is a cycle. Life is a rhythm, and it’s about aligning to certain rhythms and then offer us the best understanding of our own personal rhythm. And then at this and then at the same time, you know, aligning to these rhythms that we are all in. it’s important to, to enable us to understand that things are not permanent. There is an impermanence to everything.
Now, you know, easy words to say, but really hard to accept, because you know, the implication of change, you know, and, and we’re creatures of wanting to survive. So, you know, we need to anticipate the next moment, we need to know what’s around that corner. Because the uncertainty of every, the uncertainty of everything can be quite debilitating for people fear can be quite debilitating. And I and I’ve seen I’ve seen you know, even you know, really good yoga philosophies become crystallised rather than the yoga philosophy itself is about adaptation rather than that this crystallised understanding of life because life cannot be put in a box cannot be crystallised. There is so many factors and conditions certain elements complexity to life that you cannot just crystallise it, or simplify it with one or two concepts. It’s much more than that.
Yeah. And so, for me, after listening to what you’ve just said, I feel that maybe one thing that we all can practice in terms of finding support for each of us in this time of change is really learning to listen to the rhythm of life. Because as we can learn to listen to the rhythm, then maybe we can stop anticipating what’s around the corner, maybe we can just follow what the rhythm is, and just let that take us to the next step.
That’s so true. That’s so true. And, you know, I’ve written this down and I just like to quote this for you and and so It goes something like this, “we cannot hide to the eventuality of our end. Or for that matter this moment, the only requirement that the practice of yoga asks of you is that you are present to your life, whatever that might be.” So I think, I think that’s it. You know, I think yoga just encourages you to engage with your life right now. Whatever that life is, whatever culture you come from, you know where you are in the world. Yoga just asked you to connect with that. And, and, and, and be intimate with it. Know it fully, deeply well, you know, and then knowing that deeply well, knowing yourself deeply Well, you know what happens, you know, everybody else deeply well, too.
Yeah. Yeah. Very, very profound, very beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.
Yeah, Meta. I just want to just give you one more quote, and this one is something that I wrote So starts off this way, “by many contemplative practices as seen as passive. This is far from the truth. There is a real struggle when we engage reality of our minds. There’s no other experience like it. Here we realise how elusive, clever and elaborate our mind is. That it cannot be subdued by force or overcome by effort. The weaponry that is needed is to succeed and the strife supposed struggle is tolerance, patience and time. What we have entered as far removed from the world, we know what normally live in. there is no fanfare or flags waving, when we triumph over our demons. Or no one to console us when we lose or succumb yet again to the forces that tempt us. The only witness to these events is you. And so for me, this is the idea of self practice, you know, that we’re engaging all these aspects of ourselves and and ultimately there is no winner or loser in this process. It’s that deep, deep, intimate relationship that we’re trying to foster. And so to me, this is the self practice and and I just wanted to share this quote with you.
That is so, so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that. Yes.
No worries. All good.
So, I think that has been quite an exciting conversation. And well, we hope that for everybody who’s listening. We hope that gives you some tips and tools advice on how to navigate this period of change. That’s right. And yeah, yeah, I think that’s it for us in this episode. Thank you, everybody, again, for listening. Thank you. Vinent, as always, for your wisdom and conversation. Always a pleasure. So yes, we, please stay well, everybody. And hope to be with you again in the next Hañsa Conversations. Thank you.
Thank you Meta. Thank you.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. To learn more about Hañsa at Hañsa.yoga on the web, where you can also purchase online practice videos to practice at home. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing lists to get updates on our latest news. So join us on the next Hañsa Conversation and thank you for listening
Ep. 4 – Breath
On average, humans breathe about 17,000 to 30,000 times a day. The breath is intimately connected to many aspects of our lives. In this episode, we talk about the how the breath is linked to our body, our mind, our emotion. We also talk about the breath from the perspective of Pranayama, the yogic breathing practice, and discuss from a hañsa perspective, what is advisable when it comes to these practices.
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome, and listen in!
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to The Hañsa Conversations. I’m Meta from Hañsa Indonesia and we have Vincent the founder and director Hañsa. How are you doing today?
Yeah, I’m good. I’m doing good. How are you doing?
I’m not too bad. Not too bad.
Yeah, I’m out of quarantine. So I feel quite quite excited. I know you’re still there in lockdown. So you know.
Yeah, I’m a little bit jealous. I’m not gonna lie. I wish I can go out.
It’s okay. Okay, it’s okay. I’ll have a pizza for you
Ah, thanks. Thanks. Thanks. You’re so kind.
Okay. So what are we talking about today? I think we’re talking about breath today. So, breath, something that is really important for life. Obviously, if we’re not breathing, then we’re probably dead. But we, there’s just so much about breath that we can talk about. And so I just want to start with the basics. I think. We all know that breath has an effect. Sorry, that our psyche has an effect on our breath. Like whenever we’re unsettled or we feel anxious, then our breath starts to speed up or when we are calm, our breath becomes slower and calmer. So maybe Vincent can share just a little bit more about the connection of our breath to our mind, our emotion, even our physique. Maybe
Yeah, I think I think the breath is is a mirror, as you kind of pointing out to the way that we’re thinking and how we operate in that moment, and also how emotional status is. So it is it is a window that enables us to these things. And also, the breath is used to alter these things as well. Because as the mind can influence the breath, the breath can also influence the mind. And so my, my understanding of the breath is, is it’s a tool that we can use to alter our physiology as well as our psychology and there’s many different techniques that we can utilise to do that. And there’s some really, really simple and then it’s and then you know, there’s also elaborations to these particular techniques that become more much more complex and much more advanced and also some of the effects that they create can be much more I would say influential in these particular areas of our physiology and psychology,
So has it. Have you seen people, oh, I know you mentioned this in your trainings before. So I just want you to talk a little bit about that before, but how has breathing changed over the centuries?
Oh, well, it’s a very classic description around, I think Buteyko, in that there is a discussion that our breath ratio per minutes has changed over the decades when it was first I think measured which was in the early 1900s. And so with technology and pace of life and stress, and obviously food and diet as well, our breath per minute has slightly increased every decade or so by a couple of breaths per minute. So the average grip in a minute now I believe, is roughly about 12 to 15. And and then maybe even go a little bit higher, that it’s considered to be normal. But supposedly there was breath ratios, you know, 100 years ago, that are much lower than the current ones that we are operating with. And so the breath, breath is a reflection of not just our psychology, but also a lifestyles and some of the choices we’re making in terms of activity, jobs, you know, the way we deal with stress and also how that that can be compounded by some of the foods that we eating.
So food really? How can food impact our breath?
Well this, you know, obviously, there’s certain certain types of food and you know, Ayurvedic medicine that can be stimulating and then certain types that have a more of a balancing effect. I think generally, most of the foods these days have a tendency to be a bit more processed. And so you know, going back to natural organic foods, I think is much more kinder on our system for a whole variety of reasons. It’s easier to assimilate, less to actually try and break down. And so our system is not so stressed. And also at the same time, some of the chemicals associated or some of the superficial substances that are in these foods are not necessarily supportive of our system, because it just makes our system work just a little bit harder.
Okay, okay. Right. So food also plays a part in breathing. So I never thought about that before. But thank you.
The thing is, is that we know any food that’s digested, you know, there’s a huge concentration of our internal structure to break down that food and assimilate that food. So it’s going to impact our metabolism in particular ways. And so and that’s going to be reflected In a much more superficial and tangible process, where our breathing speeds up. And so and if our breathing speeds up, then our heart rate also increases as well.
All right. Yes. And before we move on, I just want to bring it back to what you said. Cause you mentioned Buteyko. So for those who doesn’t know, Buteyko is a professor from Russia, is that right? That created a certain breathing techniques?
Yeah, I don’t know the full story of it. But yes, he discovered a link between disease or ill ease and breathing rhythms and patterns and ratios. I know there’s probably people out there that know more about this than I do. So don’t want to say too much. But it was a Russian doctor. And he developed a number of specific approach and protocols to support people in situations where they were hospitalised and they will and their symptoms were were compounding their breathing rates and those re re breathing rates were compounding their symptoms. And so he tried to create an a level of intervention and where to learn eliminate, I suppose, or reduce the stresses of the disease that they had at that time. And so he came across, you know, I think he merged scientific, orthodox medicine with yogic breathing techniques, and he came up with the Buteyko method.
Okay. Yeah, that’s actually, yeah, I was gonna say that the yogic back in the days created pranayama, I’m guessing, for the same effect as well, using the breath to to bring certain healings to the body and pranayama and Breathworks are what we know in the yoga world as breathing techniques to bring benefits, but can we, can we really alter the breath to bring changes to our body?
So can we change your base physiological states using the breath? Is that is that what you’re saying?
So, so to answer, you know, very simply that question, yes, we can we can change the, I suppose if, for example, if we involve hyperventilated states, let’s say for, you know, our breathing rhythm has a tendency to be fast or there’s an anxiousness to it, by using breathing techniques, yes, we can in time change the behaviour or the pattern or the habituation of that of that particular rhythm. Also, you know, because the breath is closely associated to the way that we’re thinking and perceiving you know, our lives. If it can influence also the way that we operate in that area and that paradigm of our psychology and we start to build with that, a certain level of understanding and rationalisation of how to deal with the perceived stresses that are bringing upon certain anxieties on a psychic level and then how those are transmitted into our physiology and also expressed in a level of neurological activity that is heightened, which impacts on our breathing and cardiac rhythms. So the breathing can change all those things. Regular breathing practices can start to alter the base level in a way that it fits more I think, possibly at a at a natural rate or a natural status and that is much more responsive rather than always, always operating or becoming stuck and operating at a level that is not able to be adaptable to the different situations that emerge. For example, if I’m an anxious person, and then I’m sitting in front of watching TV, and I know that anxiety still remains and there’s a low level of activity residue that maintains a high rate of breathing and cardiac rhythm. I hope that makes sense.
Yeah, it makes sense. And I think you are, what you’re saying is more of making an a change in our own normal breathing pattern or like the regular breathing habits, but
in Pranayama, there’s so many different techniques that for example, like Kapalabathi or other techniques that I don’t think that can be is applicable to or have a relation to the way we breathe normally. So just curious, I wonder why the yogi created certain techniques that are quite unusual and wonder what their effects is on the body.
Yeah, I mean, there’s different techniques for stimulating the body depending upon, you know, the person’s physical and energetic characteristics and, and there’s certain techniques that pacify, I suppose the body or the mind. But most of the techniques in yoga that I think have been created are not so much about the physicality and the physiological responses and how that how these things operate, but eventually, it’s more about the, the way these techniques influence the mind and the way that we perceive our reality. And so when we look at the breathing exercises are given an if and if you look at The protocol of the Kosha model it kind of sits on the second tier, if you like, behind Asana so it’s it’s moving now into energetics. And when I think of energetics I’m thinking more about neurological rhythms, I’m starting to think about how the minds operating and then how that mind influences all these sort of kind of subtle realms of, of behavior that are both biological but also neurological and or energetic in the nature. And so the breathing really is to start to delve a little bit deeper, but sometimes we can get stuck in just becoming very good technicians and signed to improve our ability to hold our breath longer or breathe for, you know, only a few numbers of breath per minute. And, you know, we become very, very skilled and extremely adept at, you know, some of these techniques that are given in Pranayama and I don’t, and I think that misses the point tell you the truth, I think they are just deepening in the conversation of the operation or the way that the mind actually behaves. They rather than getting, you know, becoming perfect or becoming not perfect, but becoming really specialised in a particular breath pattern or a particular breath technique.
So how do we bridge the two? So learning technique is good as well, you’re breathing less per minute, but how do we bridge the two? So there’s a there’s something that we gain out of it in our everyday life?
Yeah, that’s a good question. Because techniques are really important. But techniques should be spoken about in a particular way that it should start to open doors and deepen our understanding that is beyond just the technique itself. It should lead us into other realms of observation. What happens though is that we become, you know, stuck, I suppose, in the specialisation of techniques and we and as evident with some, you know, with the yoga postures where we’ve become so specified and biomechanically orientated, and we’ve also isolated nature of how to move our body in such specific ways that we’ve lost really the connection of movement and the relationship that movement has, you know, in one moment to the next and the rhythmical nature of movement. And so and then we have done that with the breathing breathing practices as well where we become overly specialised in the practices of pranayama. We’ve put more value on these things than what they should have. I’m not saying that the breath is isn’t is not important. Of course, it’s important, but there’s an optimal point for everything. And then when you get beyond that optimal point of what it is, you actually start to, you know, tip it in the opposite direction, something really practical and useful and health giving can now become something that is not in service of the individual and actually starts to create more complications than is needed. So, we have to be careful that we don’t become overly specialised in our approach to the practice of breathing. We don’t want to put an excessive amount of value on it. Yes, it does change our psychology. Yes, it can alter our physiology. But it’s a tool to deepen our conversation into other areas of our life and also in the way that we perceive things and interpret things as they arise in our everyday living.
Okay. So is there a more integrative way of practicing pranayama that can be integrated with the Asana so that maybe it’s not so separate, then it becomes another layer in what the yoga is trying to achieve, I guess. In the union of your parts
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I agree. So the first thing to create union is an attitude where you are a bit more relaxed. Yeah. So so, it’s an attitude where you’re not taking things so seriously. I think this is important. Because if you do take, start take things as seriously then the grip, then now, we tighten around the thing that we working with and we all looking for perfectionism. We all looking forward to doing it right. I think these are misleading. that’s down, take us down avenues that can, can more compound our reasons. And also our efforts in ways that are not useful, that’s the first approach. So it’s the attitude that you bring to it.
The second one, which I quite like in the Krishnamacharya lineage was to use the breath and in particular way that corresponds to the movement of the body and the synchronisation of breath and movement. So there’s a beautiful timing and organisation ah between, you know, as you breathe, you move and as you finish moving, your breathing also starts to stop at the same time. And then you can expand that into what they described as envelope breathing, which the movement is a little bit shorter than the breath so the priority or we become more breath centric in our focus when we’re practicing Asana or practicing posture in yoga.
Secondly, I think the other thing that if we are focusing on just the basic mechanics of the breath, sometimes I think that’s just enough, really, at the end of the day looking at the, the incoming and outgoing breath in ways that, again, we add themes such as ease and grace, rhythm. I think these these beautiful terms can really influence the way that we breathing but also, it enables us to feel the breath and with a greater degree of calm and at the same time with a great degree of clarity as well. So I’m not an advocate of the most elaborate breathing techniques, I think, and they have some worth at, you know, at a particular stage, but I think at the end of the day, most of us need just to bring a little bit more attention to our breathing. in ways that a bit more simple in its simplicity, it doesn’t mean it’s not profound. I think it can be quite revolutionary. I think simple, can really shift things on a number of levels from, as I said, your physiology but more importantly from your psychology because the attitude of simplicity or the attitude of ease or grace, or seeing life as rhythm spills over, not just in breathing practices, but in yoga poses and the way that we approach obstacles also in the way that we use that and start to relate to ourselves. So it’s another conversation. And I think a conversation that’s worth considering when we start to look at the breath from the same idea which is simplicity, and ease.
I really like that because I think most of the time, or at least how I was taught pranayama, sometimes that element is not, not highlighted, I guess or like people don’t really teach it in a simple and easy way. And my own personal experience with that is that it was just a simple counted breathing with just short pauses in between the inhale and exhale. But the first time I did it, I remember, I got so anxious that I just wanted to leave the class, and the whole yoga class I was just shaken from this simple breath. And I remember feeling quite surprised how simple breathing practice has such an impact on my body and it’s a long time to finally get into a certain ease in breathing and start slowly again, instead of trying to push myself to meet whatever is the count that was given or the expectation that is given. So, yeah, I think it’s quite important to do it in a way that is easy.
Yeah, I mean, look, you know, we can’t practice Pranayama like we practice posture, yoga posture. We can’t push and try and become rigid around this process, we will just create other complications, whether it be physical or emotional or psychological. To me, also, breath is about a continuum. It’s about movement. And it’s not so much about your ability to control the breath, but it’s about directing a rhythm. And that is serving of you as a person but more importantly, a rhythm that talks about harmony. And it talks about this, what would you call it, a process that I think is able to adapt according to the situation That’s in front of you. Also, at the same time, while we basically tried to do is, as we mentioned as before and in the podcast, is to try and create a base level, an optimal base level of a breathing rhythm, that when you’re resting, it’s at, at that level that is natural. It’s it’s coordinated from a reflexive perspective that also expresses, you know, the resting position that you’re you’re taking at that moment.
So you, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t make your breath more optimal than what nature is giving you. It’s just, it’s just, it’s just about creating a natural functionality to the breath that adapts to the given situations. That’s all you’re trying to do. And I think in most cases, yoga should should do one thing, and one thing only and that’s create a functional life. And then what does that mean in functional life? You know, you have a given body that can do certain things. And you just want to optimize those things that you can do. And it’s staying with the breath. And so there’s this idea that we can make things better and better and longer breath, deeper breaths, you know, faster breath somehow is gonna create more health benefits. In actual fact, there’s an optimal thing to everything. And once you go beyond that, you actually create more problems, which is evidence in yoga poses now where there’s so many more, that I’ve experienced and work with yoga teaches, injuries that are coming from yoga practices that are encouraging deeper further farther more flexible kind of scenarios. With this idea, that further and further you go, there’s greater and greater benefits and merit to be received. And but what I found the further you go down in the in the pursuit of more skilled postures that you end up, you know, coming, you know, at the end of the street facing a chiropractor or physiotherapist or a doctor because you’ve created so much problem for yourself. So, functionality is about optimising what you have now. Sorry.
No, no. How can we practice breathing so that it supports this normal optimum functioning way of breathing? Is there in terms of mechanism? Is there a right way to breathe? Or is there certain things that we have to do so that we are optimising our normal functioning breath.
I don’t know if there’s a right way to breathe. I everybody has a different I suppose, approach to the again the breath is just reflective of many other factors. So, when I talk about the breath that I talked about the breath from the idea of it being three dimensional. So that, you know, when we start to think about this, this concept that’s like, okay, so your view of your body starts to change. So all of a sudden, you know, you start to experience itself from a variety of different angles and, and, and also different perspectives, and then internalises your interpretation as well. And then we start to think about how the breath actually is more about pressure values rather than anything else and how the breath can alter different rhythms within the body and also how I can link the upper and lower hemisphere of your spine. It also demarcate the upper and lower hemispheres of your body.
So when I start to talk about the mechanics of breath, it’s more about, for the student, giving them information that they now, the breath is not so mysterious anymore. It’s giving them information that practice practical tools there by just either changing their view of how they breathe and that there is other alternative ways of considering our breath rhythm. That in itself gives I think, a different experience to the body it gives them an opportunity to, to move in ways that again new to them. And I think more importantly, it gives them choice. Now in most cases, we know we we talk about breathing mechanics, from a diapragmatic perspective where you know in most cases, we ask people to distend their belly. That’s fine. And that I don’t think that’s that’s a problem. But again, anything that we we do can be taken to an exaggerated situation. And so now we have these people who are bellowing their belly right out, thinking this is the breath, a breath that is actually really good. And the more you can distend your belly, the deeper the breath is. When in actual fact, you know, distension of the belly can create, you know, destabilisation of the spine. It can also desensitise the core musculature to maintain a supportive role in supporting the lower back.
And so there is so much information out there about the breath and that we can take it beyond its natural functional limit, and that then we start to exaggerate its behaviour in ways that, as I said before, doesn’t help you. So how do we make it better for people? Keep it simple. Keep the whole process really, really simple. The simple observation of the breath, the incoming and outgoing breath, is a meditative tool which leads to contemplative states, which heightens one’s observe observational powers. And we start to realise that the mechanics of our diaphragm and breathing patterns are closely related to the way that we’re thinking. Thinking is also very closely influencing our postural tendencies. So your breathing pattern is also very much linked to the way that you hold your posture in everyday life. So there’s a lot to consider so we can improve our breathing techniques, and in a way that we, you know, maximise and you know, we exaggerate and become highly skilled in a way that is supported by a posture that is dysfunctional, segmented and not actually very useful to us. So I heard this the other day, now I’m going on a little bit, but I heard this the other day is that we can build fitness on a dysfunctional body. And the more you build fitness on a dysfunctional body, the more likely you’re going to injure that body. So first take care of the foundations which are, you know, if you like posture, if you like because breathing mechanics closely related to the way that you are organising your posture in space, your your levels of interpretation of your body, your your kinesthetic awareness. And also you know that the breathing rhythm needs to be simple. These are the foundations. And that’s it. That’s a lot as I’ve spoken too much. I apologise.
There’s so many levels to pay attention to. But ya on the simplest level, I think that just paying attention to the inhale and exhale can result in so many benefits from that simplicity. So you have any advice?
Well, my advice is what I teach to my teachers, and that is, I don’t really teach advanced pranayama techniques until the basics understood. And then eventually the basics actually what people should be practicing anyway. And so The techniques that I teach first observation of the breath. Secondly, that we can segment the breath in stages. So we can layer the breath. So it gives you a bit of appreciation of this full cycle or one phase of the breath. And then coordinating the breath, as I mentioned before with movement, and that’s, that’s beautiful. But that could take takes awareness, it just encourages the person to be fully immersed in, in their breathing and moving practice.
And then we start to add, like what you were experiencing, we can add the idea that the breath is made up into four phases, you have a breath in you have a pause, you have a breathe out, you have another pause. So we start to expand on what the breath is. And then we can even talk about more how we breathe, how we start to breathe, then what happens in the middle of the breath and then what happens at the end of the breath. And then we talk about the same thing with the pause what happens to the beginning of the pause what happens in the middle of the pause and what happens at the end of the pause? So we start to define more the subtleties. And we by doing that, we become more sensitive to our breathing rhythm without actually imposing any structure of breathing, we just become more observant.
And then And then finally, we can start to add a count to our breath, which again, just crystallises the the way that we are operating and we may start to find some contradictions and conflicts is that like you experienced the first time in which, you know, yeah, impacts on on our psychology. And then after, I don’t know 10 years, then we start looking at advanced Pranayama, If we decide to go there. But you know, most cases, what I say what I’ve seen we start with the advanced straight away, you know, we start with the, you know, the exciting stuff straight away without really inquiring more on the foundational components of breathing and it’s, you know, it’s so influential to one’s mind it you know it you know, it’s it’s been said that the breath links the mind to the body so the abstract to the tangible it’s the link is the is the thread that weaves our understanding of our reality. So before we start to play around with these advanced practices that ultimately at the end of the day, I think are just gymnastics with breathing which is no to the which is no different, which is no different to gymnastics with with your body and in advanced yoga poses.
Yeah, very true. So if somebody is practicing and then they experienced what I experienced. So something was triggered and anxiety comes out. So do we just take a step back and then go to find an even easier way of easier method of breathing practice first before going forward?
Yeah, well, I’m going to put that question on to you. What do you think? My answer
Yeah, my answer would be Yes to that. My answer would be to say, do step back. Yes, there’s going to be an element of discomfort in your when you start to inquire on your breathing rhythms that, you know, are habituated in ways that let’s say, you know, lead to anxious states or, or stresses on the body. And so by, you know, imposing another way of breathing which completely a radical approach on your breathing pattern that you have at the moment. And you know, and usually there’s consequences of that is what you possibly felt the first time where you there was just you were very rattled unsettled. And a lot of things that come up. The body’s not ready for that. It’s like, you know, it’s like trying to go for, you know, a 20 mile run and you’ve never run before and you try and run for as far as you can, until you completely exhaust yourself, you’re not going to run again the next day because the whole process has been just too traumatised for you. So start with something that you can do easily and that the discomfort of the consequences are not too large basically.
Okay. Well, what I was gonna say is that yes, I think take a step back and find something that is not too uncomfortable that we cannot do it, or at least for me, but at the same time, I think the key to that is using that experience as the investigation tool on noticing what is happening, because with my experience, then after a while, then I started noticing how my body became rigid when it’s trying to, to breathe, like you said, in a new way of breathing, and then so my lesson there was really learning how to soften. So yeah, I think there’s a two part of that. Yeah.
Yeah. Look, I think we start with discussing what kind of attitude do we want to bring practices that are given? I think this is probably more important than the techniques themselves at this stage, because it defines defines our our approach and it’s not just with our breathing, but everything else that we do. So I think this is essential and, and, and the theming of this is, is the found is the foundation to building on the experiences that you’re having and the challenges that will arise in some of the situations that are given to us, or presented to us. So, so the attitude of softness, the attitude of ease and grace, I think is is deeply profound. And it’s, it has a lot of power to that as well. And and I think transformation comes when things are simple, not when things are complex. When things are complex, most times people are hanging in there with their life. And and and if the intensity is high as well in a given situation, if it’s a breathing technique, or, or posture as an example, and then you’re not going to be you’re not going to have a mind that’s very expansive, clear and objective about the situation.
By default, you’re going to fall back into your habituations, both physically and mentally. And so, I am a strong advocate of keeping things simple, but more importantly, approaching it with a sense of ease. It just gives you more choice and ultimately, what are we trying to do? We’re trying to change a behaviour in a particular way that we we bring, again, functionality back to our current, reality that supports that moment, rather than the current habit that we’re in that can actually, you know, create problems for us. And, you know, the issue is the habit is consequences of the symptom. And so to change your habits, as we all know, it’s very difficult. It’s not as not hard. So how do we, how do we change our habits through simplicity, through ease, through through, and this creates clarity, this creates better observation there’s therefore more sensitivity and intimacy. Now the breath is amazing in terms of just increasing that to another level out, we can start to approach to breath. As a process where in itself we consider these things of ease and simplicity. We become such more so much more sensitised as a mind, to both our physical body and to the way that we see things. We tend to become much more observant to our habits. We start to see the triggers that initiate these habits. The breath is is the doorway to the transformative power of the practice of yoga. But you have to approach the breath with greater sensitivity, you have to approach the breath with a different mind, if, you have to approach it with in a very different way to the way that you normally do things. Otherwise you otherwise you miss the point.
Yeah, there’s, it’s amazing where there’s just so much in the breath and I sometimes I wish that maybe all of us should begin yoga right there instead of the Asana because I feel that there’s so much that that is interlinked to to this act that we do every day, hundreds and thousands of times a day. So yeah, it’s amazing.
That’s right. Look, the way you breathe is the way you move, the way you move is the way you think. It’s all interlinked. It’s all connected, you know? And so the breath is an expression of the totality of who you are. Yeah. And the way that you approach the breath is also an expression of who you are.
Right. Right. Yes.
So I think this this, when we think about, and then you know, when people think about ease and simplicity, it just doesn’t seem to have the same value as effort and achieving something and moving you know, beyond certain obstacles and, you know, somehow using world to to overcome the difficulties that we have, you just cannot approach the practice of pranayama or breathing in that way. It just too different effort.
Okay. So ease and grace and simplicity.
I think so I think these these are very, very clear. And, and not so it’s not so easy to do.
I think it’s harder to do.
Yeah, I think, I think you know, keeping things simple, just, you know, I struggle Oh my god, you know, trying to keep things simple in my life just doesn’t work, you know, so, but do not do not underestimate the transformative power of simplicity.
Yeah, there you go. That’s the message of the day.
So yeah, so so Pranayama for me is again a practice that needs to be approached with a much more discerning mind. Much more discerning mind the way that we practice physical yoga That’s why there’s not many teachers that teach pranayama or specialise in Pranayama practices. because it requires much more of an investment and a much more degree of practice, I suppose, of commitment to the practice of really inquiring What is this thing that keeps us alive? And how does this express our deepest, our inner deepest motivations as well? Because it is the window to your soul if you have one.
Yeah. True. Well, at least we can start to practice it for ourselves to begin with our own practice and see where that takes us. And hopefully, whatever we talk about in this podcast, can help some people do that. And find ..
Yeah. Yes. Right.
a different way of breathing. Yeah,
Yeah. Well just yeah. Yeah, I laugh because you know, it’s like oh you know, because, you know, different different way of breathing what kind of breath is the right way and it’s just, you know, I think how long is a piece of string kind of thing? And so what’s appropriate is probably in my mind is the key here. But yeah, the breath you know when I think again, the breath is the closest thing to you. It’s, it’s the teacher that you all been looking for or we have been looking for I have been looking for. It’s there at the beginning of your life, it’s there through your ups and downs, your hopes and dreams. Your pleasures and pains and it’s there in your last day. This is the teacher. This is you. This is the teacher that, this is the teacher, if you if you look closely to your breath, it teaches you everything that you ever wanted to know. It will teach you, you know, it will solve the mystery of your life. And so when we when I think about the pranayama when I think about Hañsa, I think about, you know, this idea of finding that inner teacher and what does that mean? on a practical level? It’s your breath. Because that’s the one thing that enables you to experience the reality that you have now. And so here you have it, right in front of you, every minute of the day, every second, it’s there. And there’s a lesson to be learned when we connect to it.
Beautiful, thank you, Vincent. Thank you so much. That’s gorgeous
Yeah. Peace out.
All right. Well, thank you again. For that beautiful conversation and again, both Vincent and I hope that this is helpful for everybody in terms of, just facing life in general. So, yeah, thank you. We hope everybody is well as usual. And we hope that you come back and listen to us again in the next Hañsa Conversation. Thanks, Vincent.
Hey, now thank you Meta. Thank you for your time. And, you know, thanks to our listeners out there. Appreciate your ears. And yeah, hope to see you in the next one. Wonderful.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. To learn more about Hañsa at hansa.yoga on the web, where you can also purchase online practice videos to practice at home. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to get updates on our latest news. So join us on the next Hañsa conversation and thank you for listening.
Ep. 5 – Posture
What is posture? Is there such thing as a good posture? How do we know what is right for us? In this episode we talk all things posture in relation to human development and functionality. We also talk about posture in the current world of Yoga.
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to Hañsa Conversations – A podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome, and listen in.
Hello, hello. Welcome back to Hañsa Conversations with me Meta from Hañsa Indonesia and Vincent, founder and director Hañsa. Good morning, Vincent.
Good morning. How are you?
I’m great. How bout you? Still in China?
Good. I’m just. Yes, still in China. Got my cup of coffee here. That, to wake me up a little.
Yes. I have my cup of tea with me over here. That’s great. So here we are. We gonna have another conversation. And I think let’s talk about posture today. So quite quite a hot topic in the therapy world and the in the yoga world. I think everyone is curious, on wanting to have a good posture. When I was a child, I think my mom put me into ballet classes just so that I can have good postures and I don’t hunch. I think that’s really the main reason why she put me through ballet classes. But yes, how do you define good posture? Let’s start with that.
Okay, well, yea. That’s an interesting question. Um how do we define good posture? Well, I think what is good posture generally, what is functional and what allows for full optimisation of range of motion? Which is going to be different from one person to the next. And so there’s no real true blueprint of what good posture is, but there are certain certain biomechanics that need to be adhered to that allows for this greater degree of efficiency, if you like in our movement and just generally in our overall, you know, existence, I suppose.
Okay. So, coming back to what I said earlier, I think there there are a lot of parents like my mother who try to put the kids into some kind of training to so-called fix their posture, but how much is that can can be done, like putting a child through a certain type of movement practices to form their posture, or how does a child’s development affect posture?
Oh, that’s in yeah. It’s quite layered aye. So, a lot of the motivations around good posture, I think is being influenced by certain cultures, that, you know, and cultures that were in the early 1900s. And so, for that, or the early 20th century, sorry, I should say and so, and that was all based upon this also caste system where you know, a good posture determine your standing in society, you know, if you had a good posture in educationally you came from a sound school, you have, you know, wealthy background and all that kind of stuff. So, yes, a good posture came from those particular social constructs. And they still persist today to some respects. And when, when we talking about children, I mean, you know, they’re ever developing and rather than sort of imprison them in that particular attitude, physical attitude, and also that kind of transmits into the psychology as well, is probably best to allow them to play allow them to experience movement, and how movement is multi-dimensional and a three dimensional.
So it’s for me good posture is about coordination. Coordination in terms that the body is cohesive. And when it moves, that there is a very clear channel between upper and lower body. neurological system is very adaptive and responsive to me, that’s what good posture is. So anything that what we seen in general society in terms of what we perceive to be good posture, it’s all very superficially based it has a visual component to it, but internally, it doesn’t actually adhere to the normal functionality of our organism. So we have to be careful in imprisoning, you know, ourselves, our children and you know, even even just our values around what good posture is, and it’s very hard to, well, it’s very easy because we can just generalise good posture, we can, we can categorise it in particular ways. And then we can mold people towards it because then it’s easier to form an element of control around, you know, our attitudes as well. And you’ll see that and you see that with, as you said, ballet and not their ballet has anything wrong with it, but there’s certain dogmas that come with it. You know, the body becomes rigid and its movement patterns. And, you know, once it’s well trained, it’s hard to break those movement patterns. You know, you become indoctrinated.
Yeah, yeah, totally. But okay. So if we start shifting the perspective, more towards functionality, right, how, how do we maintain good functionality? How do we even begin to understand Okay, what is, how does our body move in a well coordinated functioning matter? Way, sorry. And how do you maintain that?
Yeah, it’s, again, another good question. It starts, you know, as I see it early childhood developmental patterns are really essential here. And enabling children to experience and play and coordination component and play is really important for for developing good functionality. And some of these stages of developmental growth are essential in also establishing better abilities to self regulate on physical and emotional level. How we, as adults, maintain functionality. Well, you know, there’s a whole variety of different modalities that, you know, enables us to experience movement and you know, yoga is one, obviously. And and then you have your exercise, you know, going for runs, walks, and what have you.
But for me, you know functionalities is the ability for the body to adapt. And it’s also it’s, it’s a, it’s a an approach where we challenge our particular paradigms of movement as well, where we start to experience ourselves more from the perspective of spirals or rotational relationships, rather than sometimes coming from these mechanical perspectives, linear angles, and which, which really doesn’t, you know, the problem is sometimes the body is seen as a machine, rather than this adaptive, watery organism that moves and responds and it changes like a chameleon at times depending upon the environment and the terrain that is inhabiting. So my suggestion is in terms of finding what maintains good functionalities practices that allow allows us to explore your body from many different movement perspectives rather than just from the sort of kind of linear and sometimes overly structured processes that I think also Yoga has fallen into.
Yeah, I think yoga in itself has become rigid and the way that people are asked to experience their bodies. I mean, don’t get me wrong structure is important. But when when when you start to place more value over the person or we place more value on the structure than the person, and then we start to create conflicts. And we see that and I’ve seen that in the yoga practices with people as it starts to create friction, you know, between what the body can do and what the person’s mind wants to do. And so and it doesn’t adhere to what the body can actually do. And so you start to see these injuries appearing. And then that, again expresses this incoherence really between what we want and what we can actually do.
Yeah, but it’s quite hard right as the body has been trained in a certain way to follow a certain structure, then how can we go back to understand what is the natural way of moving? What is a way of moving that is more in line with how the body is naturally created, versus what the body has been trained to do so far?
Yeah. It’s, it’s a it’s a fine line, you know? And there’s no definitive answer to this. And I and you know, after years of practice, my my process, my practice is the closest to exploration. And my exploration obviously there is certain limitations as well because we all have certain, you know, subconscious dogmas, I suppose, or certain hidden narratives. And yeah, we also have certain bias in the way that we move so we can be completely free and experiencing ourselves from, as you mentioned, a natural functional perspective, what is, you know, natural, it’s hard to understand that concepts. We have to let go a lot of frameworks to, to do that. And that, but you know, these frameworks hold hold a lot of, of our belief systems together. And so if you take those away, sometimes, you know, the cathartic experience that comes with it is too much. So, to the best of your ability, the idea of being playful, being curious and being explorative in your practice, I think is is quite empowering in many ways, but it is closer to the idea of sensing what is functional or sensing what is more appropriate and adheres to the mechanics of the body rather than we superimpose a reality on the body that it can’t actually manage. And over time, it becomes evident it can’t manage it.
Then it takes a lot more than that. It takes awareness of understanding our own body, it takes some knowledge as well, in how we move and I guess, a process in finding a different way of moving that is better, or quote unquote, better or more supportive of us?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s, you know, awareness is built on on knowledge. And it’s built on obviously the other people’s experiences of the topic that we’re investigating. And but then we we have to in some way make it more relatable to us. So we have to start to create our own language around the information that’s out there. I think that’s important, I think that, you know, creates a sense of a deeper commitment to to, you know, one’s experience and wanting to improve, you know, the quality of life that we have. And I think you get to a certain age where, you know, a lot of us start to question the frameworks that we’ve come from, and then then they were appropriate in some stage in terms of our learning and development. But no longer are they appropriate now.
So you know, we have to move on, we, you know, there’s a beautiful saying that, you know, from from form to formlessness, you know, and homelessness is such a vague concept, and, but I can understand it more these days, I think, coming from you know, my practices were quite structured and rigid at times. And quite formulated. But you have to come from those places to understand what is fluidity, you know what is formlessness or at least get an essence of what formlessness is so you know, and you can’t measure you know, what the structure is unless you’re in it and and deeply embedded in it and then you can use that then you can start to experience the opposite what what it is to be less rigid what it is to be more open more fluid, more spiral in your in your movement patterns or even just in your attitude, you know, but there’s, there’s a lot is a lot there.
So, you asked a question, I think, around what is posture and posture is not just physical, it’s attitudinal, we posture ourselves and our psychological level as well. You know, we posture attitudes around our belief systems. Our beliefs, our belief systems define our posture and the way that we navigate life and people around us. So posture is not just a physical construct posture is is an internal relationship that defines our reality. And so to change somebody’s posture is to in some respects radicalised their whole system, from you know, from the superficial to the most deepest interior aspect of them. And because our posture is something that defines our expression of our innermost reality and belief systems, and it’s done through the physical body. And so when we, when we move, you know, into processes we’re like, with children, and we’re trying to structure their bodies to be something you’re not actually structuring the bodies, you’re structuring the mind. We’re in superimposing a value system onto them saying this is good and this is bad. And so that to me is a real problem. Because you know, we need to go beyond the idea of, of the superficial concept of posture. And so developmental movement allows for greater adaptation or greater greater reflexive responses around your emotionality as well as your psychology and posture. What is functional, a posture that adapts and molds, and is able to express itself fully in ways that is relevant to the moment. That’s what good posture is.
Okay? Right. So you mentioned again, developmental phases of the child, I’m just wondering if a child somehow missed a part of their developmental phase which affects many things obviously can be communication or speech or cognition. When that person becomes an adult, is there a way to almost go back and then redevelop whatever it is that they’ve missed by doing certain practices or, I’m just curious?
Yeah, I think so I think we can reclaim certain aspects of ourselves, you know, you know, in the Hañsa practice, the seed practices are based upon developmental processes in micro forms. And then at the same time is talking about a language of defining the current situation that most people are in and defining the experiences that come with that. And so, you know, paradoxically, rather than what we, to change something, we have to define what it is that we’re in first before we we move towards the idea of trying to change it. And its definition, we start to see see the conflicts and then within those, those conference we start the day in question and you know some of the reasons why or motivations why we move in the way that it moves. So in terms of the developmental patterns, it’s exactly the same thing we first have to define define the pattern of the person’s in now, rather than superimpose another pattern onto them, which may not have the same value to them on a deeper level. So first we have to, you know, clarify what is it that seems to be missing as a rhythm or level of awareness or just in a kinesthetic sense, that’s either internal or external. We have to find those things first. That’s where the the therapeutic starts in the definition of of the experience that the person is having. And whether that experience is supportive of them or whether they how they perceive that experience is supportive of them.
Right, so so the beginning part of this it helps to get assistance from like therapy, for example, to help define those things first before understanding the current situation and then moving forward maybe on altering whatever it is that um can be, or we want to so-called change.
Yeah, I mean, you know, to reclaim a greater degree of efficiency in in our movement patterns does take a while. Because what, you know, what you’re asking the person to do is to negate what they’ve relied on for so long. And, you know, and if you’re, if you’re, if you’re going of do that it’s going to create natural conflict anyway. And generally people’s attitudes that come with wanting to change something. It’s not necessarily an attitude that supports that change. And so when i what i mean by that, is that, you know, we sometimes impose change with the same attitude that has created the problem.
So we have to, I think that’s why when I say, you know, movement should be playful and should have that level of curiosity. I think that’s one way of negating some of the conflicts that sometimes just naturally arises when we put another reality on top of one that’s currently operating. And if there is an innate it doesn’t kind of match and then there’s always going to be some agitated element to it. So people are going to always feel uncomfortable. So playing with movement, playing with ideas, playing with experiences, I think is is one really nice way of supporting you know, the difficulties that come with change or the difficulties that come with reclaiming certain aspects of ourselves that you know, being lost in time
okay. So, this play this exploration as an adult when we do it is there a certain way that it should be done because I feel that there needs to be still certain kind of structure in the exploration that functions as guidelines because I realised so far in my experience that it when I do exploration it is, for example, I have to move quite slowly so that I can see more into the way I move. And then I normally have aha moments from that kind of setup or situation. But, yeah, I’m just wondering if there are guidelines to support this exploration and play.
Yeah, no that look, it’s it’s that’s a very good point because to me is that exploration sometimes can be quite nebulous and in its own right can just compound already what we’re doing and not necessarily we’re exploring new things. We’re just exploring old things in different ways.
So that can that can lead to, again, just, you know, the blind leading the blind in many respects. And so life is built upon a fine balance between structure and formlessness. And so there has, you’re absolutely right, I tend to agree with you 100%. There has to be some level of structure, some little level guidance, and then maintain one’s attention and more importantly, maintain the level of objectivity because it’s so subjective and the way that we sense our experiences that you know, in itself, inherently we are going to lead ourselves astray because of that. And so that this a structure is essential and what that structure may, what that structure looks like depends from is going to depend, you know, in terms who who’s the person that is working with it.
But from a movement perspective, this is why I always hold on to the idea that movement has certain biomechanical truths. You know, you can only move your arm in certain ways and you can only move your legs in certain ways and can you move your back in certain ways and so forth. And you can only move move your body in certain ways you know? It but if you had three legs and three arms in a short your movements would be totally different. And then your biomechanics and levers would be totally different and the stresses through your body will probably be different. So I always come back to those basic anatomical and biological processes as a way of holding one’s level of attention. And there’s a certain reality to that. And you can’t negate, and you can, you can try to the best of your ability and people do. And consequences are usually not favorable.
And so I always come back to the patterns that that really develop our locomotion, and that is patterns of lateral movement, pattern patterns of coming forward and backwards, and patterns of rotation. And these patterns are presented in everything that we do in our life. And if we break those patterns down into sort of an isolated looks, and then we start to see you know, the degree of movement that we have between one side and the other, we start to define the differences in our bias between right and left. We also start to define our natural tendencies as a physical shape. How much do we like to go one direction more than the other and is that because we genetically gifted in that way or is there certain certain indoctrinations that we’ve taken on as important and we’ve created a physiology that allows that to happen now. So, the structure is really important, but again you know, we have to be really careful because if we structure something that can easily turn into a rigid process that becomes in itself higher hierarchical, and it becomes something that deludes us again and just as much as we play too much with no purpose to the play. We become nebulous vague and almost to cosmic in our approach and the way we perceive things.
Okay. So let’s take it to something that is already quite structured out there, which is the practice of yoga from the the outer layer of posture itself. I mean, this is always a quite an interesting topic to discuss because different Teachers have different ways to guide postures. But now if we are taking the responsibility to our ourselves and we want to bring this idea of exploration in our own practice of yoga. How do we go about to start doing that?
Oh, Yeah. One radical way of doing that is just not using a yoga mat. Because you know, already, when you lay down a yoga mat, it tells you how to move which direction you should be facing, and, and the angles that you need to be operating in. So it already tells you already defines for you your movement patterns. I mean, that’s from being a little bit controversial there. But yeah, I think yoga needs a little bit more spirals in its in its formulation of movement, I think there’s a there’s an element of rigidity, I think in my mind that that is become present. And also the rigidity is how yoga is defined. And you know, as we spoke about before, there was a commercial arm to yoga. So, you know, things seem to now move in much more generic lines. So to define what vinyasa is an example in terms of a flow practice has a particular look at particular layers. It has a particular definitions around what is intensive and what isn’t. So, but I know there’s a lot of people that are challenging those paradigms and which is a good thing. And there’s always going to be people that are going to challenge that. So, yeah, so, posture, you know, already just the word itself, by saying posture, yoga postures in itself creates a structure rigidity, you know, a posture something that is how, you know, I think we should change the word posture or Asana
What would you suggest to change it to?
That’s that’s a good, good question I don’t know, maybe we should call it you know, transition. Maybe we should call it rhythm. You know, maybe we should call it continuum, you know, I know there’s a modality out there called continuum, you know, life is on a continuum, you know, it just varies and its intensity in terms of, of rhythm and movement. Because we never stand still, you know, postures such a crystallising term isn’t and so even just changing that. And when we look at the human experience from you know, when we’re born to when we die, we go through so many phases of life, so many different personalities, and so many different changes of values and attitudes that reflected that moment. So nothing is rigid or stiff or still, or posture. There’s a constant. You know, we’re transient aren’t we. I mean, the Buddhists have it really nice, everything’s impermanent, yeah. You know, impermanent in a structured way.
Right. So, yoga, finding more spiral, maybe not use the mat. And doing it in a more a continual, continuous way.
Change the language, you know, change the language, you know, you know, keep it simple. You give the give the person the opportunity to sense their bodies rather than telling them what they should be thinking maybe, you know, give them the opportunity through your language to open open the door for them to start to sense themselves in ways that they’ve never been able to sense. You know, so in most cases, we all want to be told what to do and what to feel. And you know what to think. Even though we, you know, even though I know this deepest things in the back of our minds is that that’s not true. We have we have freedom, we have choice, but you know, in some respects, people come to yoga class, they want to be told what to do. They want to switch off their brains, you know, they want to be led by their nose at times without actually thinking about what or where being led to.
So it takes an element of responsibility to practice yoga, an element of, you know, self inquiry and commitment. Nothing about this practice is about being led. And I like I like what I read the other day, you know, the guru killer, you know, yoga all about, you know, destroying this concept of this hierarchy that exists in these rigid rigid forms. You know, that the hierarchy is not an individual, it’s also the way that we perceive ourselves. That’s I think, what is being deconstructed, not anything that, you know, outside of ourselves the way that we define our reality and the way that we actually hierarchically build our understanding of life, and our values. And so, so by changing the language, we I think, then enable us to experience the practice slightly differently. Changing the sequencing as well incorporating more, you know, everyday functional patterns and movement. And that has a rhythm to it that talks about transition into one position into another and then looking at their rhythm, from, from the idea that all rhythms that soothe the nervous system are generally harmonious, so can we then look at how we transition in terms of the quality of it. I think these are more important questions rather than, you know what our posture looks like visually and whether we get out big toe aligned with the nail bed of it. You know. So I think this is this is I think child’s play. I think not even Child’s Play, I think children tend to be a little bit more free. I think, that’s just pedantic.
It’s such a radical idea, though, to suddenly do yoga without really being told what to do. That’s a I think that’s a radical idea. But it makes so much sense because as you said, our posture is a reflection of who we are from the way we think, the way we perceive things, our emotions and all that and to think that we allow somebody else to determine our posture is a very interesting idea because shouldn’t we be the one who actually find what is most right for us?
Well, yeah, yeah, in its determination of what is supportive of individual is usually something that it is the body’s natural function. So there is still a container that holds people’s exploration. And, and, you know, I can give you some practical examples in terms of spirals and rotation. And usually a spiral that works efficiently well is something that holds itself around the central axis that it’s following around. And so there is still these, you know, laws of physics that you have to adhere to when you’re moving that I think optimises your movement and also balances the forces of stability and mobility. There is still very clear guidelines of support supporting our attention and but also expanding that field of attention beyond the current narratives, I suppose, or beliefs that we have about our bodies, I mean, this is really the key, you know, can we start to move in ways that challenges the way that we think our body is or what we believe our body to be? I mean, that’s a that’s a big one. So, so the yoga practice is an entry to a much deeper conversation. And, and, you know, and the idea of the practice is just tool in itself, it’s not the end goal. So sometimes we we place too much value on, on, on on posture. I mean, yoga has no value whatsoever. No, no inherent value yoga doesn’t have. How you practice it determines its value. That’s the key here, you know.
So this is I mean, sure people would disagree. But I don’t see yoga per se as something of huge value, how you practice and the attitude that you bring to it. And, and the reasons you do what you do determines its value. And it also determines its consequences. So there’s some really interesting conversations that need to open up. And sometimes we just become too reverent about something. And and then it’s reference we start to build these frameworks that rigidity and dogma start to form and you see that in yoga practices, you know, I mean, after 5000 years, you don’t think Yoga has a dogmatic approach to the way life should be viewed?
I think yes.
Yeah, so I think we have to be pretty realistic yeah. Humans are humans and we’re not perfect, and we’re going to be flawed and even the teachings of yoga are flawed. There is some really inherently good, good information there as tools to navigate life. But they’re just tools not in themselves anything of great importance.
Yeah, I think like everything else, it requires a discerning mind to, to take what is important, and then also at the same time question and be critical on what is there?
Yes. Yes. Being a discerning mind that that and being critical, or at least being observant enough to see the bigger picture. That’s the key.
Alright. Yep. So there you go. Yoga has no value. It’s how you do it. that determines its value.
I think that’s a great closing statement for this conversation for this podcast. So yes, thank you again, for the information, for the wisdom. That was a fun conversation around posture and definitely going to make me personally rethink again how I view posture again, and hopefully it helped the rest of you listeners out there to also start looking at posture differently.
Thank you Meta for your time and thank you for people out there who have been listening. I really appreciate your ears. Hopefully everybody is safe and taking care of themselves in these interesting times.
yes. Stay well everybody, and we’ll see again and the next podcast.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more about Hañsa at Hañsa.yoga on the web, where you can also purchase online practice videos to practice at home. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to get updates on our latest news. So join us on the next Hañsa conversations and thank you for listening.
Ep. 6 – Biomechanics
What is biomechanics? How do we connect with the way we move and align with the way our body functions? In this episode, we talk about different ways of perceiving biomechanics through the Hañsa Therapeutic lens.
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to Hañsa Conversations – A podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome and listen in.
Okay, hello! This is the Hañsa Conversations. I’m Meta from Hañsa Indonesia and we have Vincent Bolletta, founder and director of Hañsa. Hi Vincent.
Hey, how you doing?
I’m all right. How about you?
Yea not too bad. Thank you. Not too bad.
Not too bad. How’s the weather over there today?
Beijing blue. So blue sky at the moment.
That is beautiful.
Yeah, which is quite nice. So yeah, and life seems to be getting back to normal.
That’s good. It’s been just raining and thunderstorm on my side of the world. So it’s a nice change, but hopefully I get blue sky again tomorrow.
Nice, nice, makes you hunker down and you know, cozy up really as much as as much as you can cozy up and tropical weather.
I can manage that. Cool. So let’s have another conversation today and I figured let’s talk about biomechanics today.
Cause I think it might be good to just share a little more about that with people. And so we’re gonna start with this. One question that I always get asked when I’m talking about Hansa and the advertisement in the blurb there’s always a word biomechanics and people always ask, okay, what exactly is biomechanics? So, let’s start with that. Do you want to talk about what is biomechanics?
Sure, sure. I mean the body moves in particular ways that have mechanical attributes and are governed by certain you know, natural laws of biology and laws of physics and gravitational influences. And so that is the mechanics of the body really how it moves, how it functions, all those things really can come under that heading of biomechanics.
Okay. So, so obviously that is linked a lot to our everyday movement, how we functions. So what are some of the basic principles of biomechanics that we need to know, that we need to be aware of
Oh, basic principles. So, some of the basic principles that I would suggest that we start to align ourselves with is that the body is limited. Yea it can, it can move and it has certain ranges of motion, those range of motion have been also measured. And it’s and there’s certain limitations of how far we can twist how far we can backbend, how far we can forward bend, how far we can laterally bend as well. So there’s a number of aspects to us that yes, we move well, and there’s aspects to us that seems to be unlimited in terms of our expression of movement, but it still is within a range. And that is governed by just the natural laws of our structure.
Okay. So can you just give a slightly more exact example. For example, let’s take a back bend. What is the average range of, that somebody can back bend?
Oh, good. That’s a good question. I was just, don’t quote me on these numbers because kind of, information kind of slips through my memory bank, but I think back then, the amount of lumbar extension that you can create is roughly about 35 degree angle before you start creating certain impingements within the spinal structure of the lower spine. So it’s not much of an extension when you think about 35 degrees. Another example would be how much hip extension do we have minimal or how much is actually quite minimal? It’s about 15 degrees I think give or take.
That’s measured off the central vertical axis, yeah?
Yes, the central axis of the hip before before the joint becomes self obstructing and then you have to compensate by twisting the pelvis or the lower spine to go even even further up. So, so these are some of the examples of say, indicate how much movement we have in an isolated fashion in terms of specific joints or parts of the body, that also indicates those parts of the body have a limited range as well. And that if you want more out of those parts of the body, then you’ll have to go through a number of compensatory actions. And sometimes you may have to alter the physiological nature of that region by overstretching the ligament structure or de-stabilising in a particular way that you can get maybe a few more degrees out of it. So that you can touch your toes or put your head to your feet, whichever which way it goes.
Okay, so if the the range is actually quite limited, right? Can we actually improve the range or increase the range? I’m just talking, I’m just asking because, you know, in yoga, for example, people tend to be trained to improve on either their flexibility, mobility, trying to do better backbend. So so do those range ranges change over time? Can they be improved?
Well, that’s a very good question. And I think it depends on the goal really. If you’re looking for optimising just natural function and range of motion, then I think, you know, we will work within a certain practice that enables us just to sustain our current status. But if you if you’re an athlete, or if you’re a gymnast, or what have you, of course, you can increase those range of motions, you can deepen the back bend you can create further, you know, either outward or inward rotation of the hip. But there is an optimal point where you go beyond the natural capacity of the body and once you’ve gone beyond that point, the consequences may not be felt and immediately at that moment but maybe felt further down the track.
The, and, and I would say that in actual fact, you end up doing a disservice to the body because the extremity where you’re taking either the joint or or your spine is not necessarily where it would naturally go. And it’s only because of a visual performance or a trying to attain a particular goal or to achieve a particular outcome. That motiv motivates us to push ourselves beyond what the capacity of the body can do is all generated by certain certain social constructs certain value systems and sometimes egos. And this can sometimes lead us into complicated terrains in terms of rehabilitation because we do something often enough It becomes sometimes quite chronic and to shift it back to a state where it’s more supportive of itself and obviously more integrated with the rest of the what the body can do may take a long time to reestablish. So yes, we can obviously we can increase and we’ve seen that with, you know, high performance athletes. But, you know, consequences of that later down the track, I think sometimes are irreversible.
That’s not good. Right.
So. So then coming back to the range of movement in certain areas certain joints or biomechanics. Everyone is built quite differently, how can we find out what is the range that we have at the moment, and how far we can improve it and what is still optimal and safe.
Okay, so number of questions there, so,
Yes. yes. Sorry about that.
I’m gonna challenge, I’m gonna challenge I’m going to challenge that first statement, or question that everybody is built differently. Well, let me have a look at that, let’s let’s let’s just be a little bit controversial now. You have two arms, I have two arms. You have two legs, I have two legs. So we all built the same, but there’s certain variables that are within within these frameworks and that talk about range of motion in a slightly different way. And so your range of motion may may be particularly greater on one angle than another. And mine may be kind of in reverse to you. So, so so there is these variables to our range of motion that is individualised and it’s definitely personal. But in essence, that the way that we move we all move pretty much the same. So there’s no there’s there’s a commonality to our structural relationships and there’s a commonality to the way that we walk as well. Unless there is some disease or structural anomaly that, and then will definitely alter the mechanics of our body. But overall, you know, we sit within this general or generic framework. And there is definitely, as I said, and then individualisation around that, that’s personal, that structural that’s genetically based and so forth. But the essence of it is that there isn’t that much difference that I see. I do see variables or varieties of different actions, but overall we are the same. Just remind me what was the other question that you asked me?
Oh, how do we know the range that we have at the moment and how much further we can improve on the range that’s still, that is still optimum, or, that is still safe.
Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting, because that’s a very unknown factor, because it’s so so individualised. First and foremost, does the range of motion lead to better quality of life? Secondly, first you have to define, is that range dysfunctional? Before we can say, Okay, let’s improve on it. And secondly, does their range that you’re working working with, is it causing consequences elsewhere in the body? Or is it creating inflammatory conditions? Then you would have to say, Okay, yeah, we possibly need to look at that more specifically, and do we need to enhance its range? Do we need to maintain a, or do we need to create a certain level of integrity? Or do we start to create a level of stability that we reduce the range of motion, because the movement itself is creating the issue. And it’s not sometimes just the movement, it’s, it’s this way we strategise our movement on a whole variety of levels with muscular or neuromuscular, whether it would be kinesthetically based or in just interpretive and from our perspective of what we think our body is.
So, so there’s, there’s quite a number of questions that need to be asked prior to you going, Okay, do we need to improve the range of motion? Because there is this, this bias, I think, but in yoga that we need to improve range of motion. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes actually, we need to make movement more cohesive, or the range of motion through the whole body more cohesive.
Rather than isolate specific parts to say, Oh, this needs to improve and everything else, you know, is, is secondary on on one’s value list of what is movement. And one of the key components that I work with within the therapeutic setting is creating stability. And to me, stability is the key here because in most cases where there is dysfunction, there’s an instability. And when I say instability, it’s both physical, its energetic. And there’s also a lack of connectivity on a sensory level. And so that means the mind does not the mind is not able to maintain a level of stability in association to that region of the body. So there’s always this kind of incoherent relationship that’s going on with that structure or that part of the body that is causing pain or there is a segmentation to the movement and so forth. So it’s really hard to answer, you know, what is a good range of motion? Because there are so many aspects to movement and that just to strip it down just to range of motion, doesn’t do justice to the physicality of the human body.
Right. Okay. So, yes, it depends and you have to see it more as a connection throughout the whole thing.
Absolutely. Absolutely it is it is about connections. It is about this neurological rhythm that is an uninterrupted. It’s about movement. And in terms of the spirals that we create, that are uninterrupted. It’s about this transmission of stress of force through the body that isn’t segmented or uninterrupted. So, that there is a much more full embodied experience of the movement itself. And, and there is a wholesomeness or fullness to that experience.
So I understand that it’s complex, and it’s really not easy, but where do you suggest people start? In just bringing, building the connection again, maybe just simply between the mind and the body just to become more aware of how the body is moving.
Yeah, there’s a number of possible practices that we can do. And and I think, just to start with, I like I personally have a bias to starting with simple practices. So that we establishe a foundation, both to our body and the way we sense it but also to our movement patterns and start to appreciate more and the nature of our physicality and how we use it. And once we’ve established a good sort of knowledge base around our physicality, then we can expand on those practices and they can become a little bit more dynamic and so forth. So, again, it’s building from the floor up or the ground up.
And there is a number of fundamental actions that we can do that sometimes I think are overlooked and that are foundational to to the way that we move. And these are based upon the developmental patterns, you know, we have, we have lateral movement, forward bending, back bending, and rotational cross linking or relationships. These are fundamental to our human experience. And when we move and when we, when we isolate these patterns and look at them and more deeply in the way that we are actually interacting with these ideas.
Then it tells us, it tells us something about our restrictions, it tells us something about our bias, it tells us something about how we indoctrinate the body to move only in particular ways and maybe asymmetrically in one direction more than the other. And so, and these, these physical habituations also limit our experience and and range of motion if we go down that, that line. And so stripping it back to these fundamentals, I think it’s a really nice start. And then Building on that, you know, building on that through larger choreographic relationships into our movement to maybe more dynamic actions because we have to be dynamic. But then we also have to be soft and graceful too at the same time. So trying to increase one’s repertoire of the way that we move, and sense our body and so I think a good yoga practice starts at the simple and becomes more complex as the practitioner becomes more familiar and much more knowledgeable and much more heightened in their relationship to the body.
Okay, so let’s say I’m doing the simple practices. Let’s say I’m focusing on the lateral patterns of movement that’s very simply, and so I noticed there’s a difference, obviously between the left and the right because our bodies not quite symmetrical, it’s actually quite asymmetrical. There’s a tendency to want to compare one to the other, obviously, and we want them to be quite equal. Is that something that we should strive towards trying to balance the ability on one side to somewhat match the other side? Or how should we treat the two sides differently yet integrated?
I think this is a worthy endeavor. I think it’s flawed. But it is very, it is a worthy endeavor. While we can do through our practice, there’s a difficulty and there’s there’s a pit that we fall into and that pit has these associations to alignment and perfection and equal balance you know, it’s a quite an idealistic approach to life and life is not bad and wish it was but it isn’t and we’ve gone crazy, crazy trying to fulfill some of these ideals. And but what we can what we can do, yes. Okay. So we can obviously define the difference between one side and the other, noting how much of a difference there is. And whether that differences causing us certain issues through postural discomforts, which most cases they would do. And then yes, we try and re-address and balance the differences between left and right as an example. We won’t find perfection because we will just inherently will have a bias to one side more than the other. Once we’ve established that bias, whether you’re right handed or left handed or what have you, you’re always going to you’re always going to reinforce that asymmetry.
But what you can do through the practice, is negate the consequences of those differences. You can reduce the stresses that a bias system has. You’re not going to eliminate the bias, because it’s very difficult to do that and I don’t think anybody’s ever achieved that. But you can, you can reduce the consequences or the impact of this asymmetry has in your body. So what and quite a nice way that you can you can work with in terms once you’ve discovered that there is a particular asymmetrical relationship that is quite heightened. You can do two for one ratios in terms of the exercises or movement patterns, and that you’re establishing your practice and so that then gives it addresses more the side that you don’t have the tendency to, to go towards often or disregard. And not unintentionally. It’s just one of those things that you know, sometimes it’s based upon survival, you know. If you know, a saber toothed tiger was to jump out at me, I mean, I’m not gonna go “Do I run away leading with my left leg, or do I run away leading with my right leg?”, it’s just instant that you go towards the side that you have the most favoured relationship to. So, you know, these asymmetries have an element of survival as well, you know. But addressing the addressing the balance and negating the difference is more of a realistic goal than trying to achieve perfection or equal balance between one side and the other.
Okay, all right. So now jumping into a slightly different one. So if somebody is quite hyper mobile in their joints, are there more more care and attention the person needs to have in terms of finding this balance? or moving their body in a thoughtful manner?
I yeah wow what a question. So, how to, there’s so much there to unpack. First and foremost, we have to take into into consideration the person’s lifestyle, their extra curriculum activity, are they are they practicing yoga? Are they are they doing certain things that the hypermobility maybe compromising their their structure? This is really, these are some really interesting questions in themselves. Because it does look at the their motivations. Is a general rule in everyday living does that hypermobility create certain issues for the individual? may, it may not, that really does depend. If it does, then I would encourage the individual to have a look at a wide range of motion. They first have to explore their range of motion within specific parts of their body. That may be creating certain discomfort and and then differentiate at what point they feel compromised in that range of motion. And then the question is, do they if they if you’re feeling compromised at a particular level, and it’s a felt sense experience, it’s usually quite intuitive and deeply sit. If you are feeling compromised, do you continue to explore further that range, or do you inhibit yourself to go further.
Look at the end of day the human body is adaptable and mobile and can support itself to a point and then it gets to another point where the ability to adapt and become and be resilient to the forces becomes more and more diminished. And if it becomes more and more diminished, then you have to question, you know, hyper mobility isn’t actually may may be something that is a negative rather than positive. If you’re moving, and I remember, I remember this statement, which is really beautiful. And this goes for hyper mobility too. If you’re, and you know, the statement was something like this, this is a few years ago. This physiotherapist, he said, you know, if if the person is stiff in one joint, and the rest of the body is also equally stiff in relationship to that joint, then there’s not a problem because then the body is going to work more cohesively within that range. If the joint is stiff and that and all the other parts of the body, more mobile then there’s an issue because there’s an inconsistency. And that may go the same with this hypermobility.
If the whole body is has a tendency to have this tendency to move in a hyper mobile way, but there’s a cohesive rhythm to it. That means that the structure itself is self-coordinating and regulating and distributing the forces and the stresses more equally through the body. But in most cases, what I found with a lot of people that you know, and this is not all but in most cases that some joints are more hyper hyper mobile than others because it’s used, because of genetics, whatever, it’s not that you’re just, you’re just a you know, wet noodle all the way through your body. You know and so and so, if, so I always find that hypermobility is is specific, it’s not just that over generalised term and and relationship. Sure they might be individuals that sort of kind of, what would you call it that adhere to that what I’ve just said. But you have to look at it from a bigger picture, you’ve got to take more more of the body into the equation rather than the specific joint itself. So that, to me movement is about, again, if we’re looking at range of motion, it’s about cohesiveness, between all paths, then you will find the body is much more expressive, supportive, stable, and able to adapt.
Right. The more we talk through our different conversations, the more I wonder whether then movement modalities, yoga included, and there’s dance and there’s other exercise modalities, whether a lot of them do a disservice to people because now there is a tendency to expect different people to have the same abilities and sometimes that can be quite harmful to, to people who don’t know better. So I wonder if all movement modalities need to have an element of education that comes with it that somehow, I don’t know what’s the word, but teach people how to be more familiar of their own body and their own ranges and what are they able to do versus just seeing everybody as the same?
Yeah, I agree with that. I think level of education is important. And I think at times, yes, we are doing a disservice to to our students or to, to the people that are in front of us. So there has to be a level of responsibility around information that we’re imparting, and that the information has to have capacity to be questioned. You want to you want to, you want to also create within your students a much more discerning mind. You know, a lot of these movement modalities, they have an agenda or have a particular motivation of why you move the way that you move. There’s a reason. And they they always align their philosophy to this reason. I mean, I aligned what I do to certain philosophical ideas.
And I try and, you know, create a pathway between, you know, the philosophy and our reality that we have and you know, that we sense in our body. So the, the question is that some of these agendas don’t fit the bodies that are in these studios. There was a really nice term that I heard: As many, as there are as many people in the world, that’s how many yoga styles there should be.
Ah, I like that.
Yeah, that’s uh, I think is, the term was Sahasrara Yoga, many thousand petal yoga, you know. So, so. So, the idea is that really everybody has you know, their own specific needs and and outlook on life and they have certain certain aspects to themselves that a generic practice will not support and may actually create more issues. So, the individualisation of whatever practice you are in, whatever modality movement modality you are doing, the individualisation is the key here, then that is the, that is the practice and if it’s not if that’s not available to the person then what you’re going to try and do is is fit everybody within that particular framework. And you know, that doesn’t work. Because it may, it may fit some, but it may not fit um the majority. So there was another term that was, I heard ages ago. It’s like, most, you know, people who are become yoga teachers or people who are flexible or can do the tricks. The so okay is to a few, I mean, that’s not the case now. I mean, you know, don’t hold me up as this is my belief system in terms of why people become yoga teachers.
But, we have to personalise the experience, somehow we have to you know, and this is where sometimes, in large group scenarios or in class scenarios, there’s a compromise to that personalisation. And you are not going to get that level of intimacy or connection. And through these, these, avenues of presenting a practice that is, is is a deeply personal is questions, questions, you know people’s paradigms on the level, sometimes it’s very, very challenging. And you won’t get that in a yoga in a yoga class setting or any classes for that matter. The hope is that there’s some some residue of what’s being taught, you know, trickles through past the superficial layer of one’s interpretation of life, of our bodies, and that, you know, then the questioning can begin more earnestly and deeply after that, that’s the hope. But but there’s there is definitely a lot of misdirection, I think of all of this process and information.
Yea, but the compromise will always be there. I mean, cause we we can’t handle everybody. Yes.
Look, look, look, you could go this way, you know, the spiritual path is not perfect. Okay?
And if you are, and if you are seeking perfection, then you’re causing more issues than you need to really at the end of the day, and you’re creating more conflict, unnecessary conflict within your own psyche as well. Life is not perfect. So why would the spiritual path be perfect?
That’s very true. That’s very true. And our body is also not perfect, because I think that’s something that people need to get used to as well. I think also, with the rise of social media, there’s even more pressure to look a certain way to have a certain kind of perfection to achieve. And I think we have to remember that there’s no such thing as perfection in the body in a way when it comes to I don’t know range of motion, flexibility, and you know, things that the body can do.
Yeah, so, you know back to your original questions what what biomechanics is and to me, this is an, in an my own personal interpretation. Biomechanics for me is a rhythm within our body. A rhythm that has a particular feel to it. It establishes certain experiences. It’s like a story it has a beginning, middle and an end. It starts with a place and that ripples through in liquid form as you like through our structure. It is beautifully orchestrated from all the different parts of the body that are anatomically organised.
It is. It is a conversation that is transmitted through the soft tissue through our fascia system. Through our neurological system. There’s a number of spirals and points of contact that we lever from that enables us to express ourselves in space. It has it has these messages as we move that tells us where we are in that moment and, and also tells us where we going and where we’ve come from.
And so the biomechanics for me is in it’s like a song in some respects and everybody is singing in their own unique song around it. And sometimes, you know, there’s is dysfunctions that are emerged and and you know, the harmony of that movement, or the harmony of that fully orchestrated relationship that I’ve just mentioned, becomes segmented. And you can see that the vibrational changes that happen you can feel personally the inconsistency and the feeling of conflict and ill ease in your movement. So yes, we can measure biomechanics from, you know, empirical relationships and so forth. But then, you know, there’s also that subjective field of what it feels like to move. And sometimes, you know, to really get somebody interested in their physicality is to align their attention towards the experience that we’re having. Because in the experience also we, it touches our emotional body and then when that happens, there’s a greater degree of heightened relationship or interest that is accumulated. And we become more fascinated with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. And, and, and I think, to me, the biomechanics is, is both poetic and it speaks about certain things that are hard to articulate, and then at the same time is built upon this structure and foundation that supports the physical experience that we’re having as well.
Yes, I agree. I fully agree. I think that’s really beautiful. And I think, yeah, I see life like a symphony. And you’re right. If there’s something that is not quite right, there’s normally like, I could hear, like a dissonant chord that rings and yeah, I never actually put, somehow, put biomechanics under that same perspective, but you’re absolutely right. It’s like different songs, different harmonies, and we’re just listening to that.
So the one thing that I talked about in terms of when you know, engage students in terms of moving their body and you know, and also, the biomechanical relationships that you’re trying to establish is I usually come from the idea of ease in that, you know, when things are moving in an easeful way, then generally things are much more cohesive. And yeah, to be to be to move easily, then there has to be an element of stability associated to that because you can’t be easy if you’re not stable. You try and you try and be easy when you’re emotionally unstable. You know, there’s, you know, I’m using a different kind of idea here, but it’s the same with your physicality. So structural stability is is essential, and there’s not structural stability from the perspective where we’re, we’ve taken it to the extreme where it’s all about now strength and restricting movement. Stability has to have that level of adaptation available to it. So it’s a fine balance between stability and mobility. So, and that fine balance to me is is what we’re trying to establish within the experience of our body and how we move our body. So, to make biomechanics, more biomechanics more relatable, I use the word ease as an example. Because then when we come across certain feelings of restriction, which even can come to range of motion and certain parts of our bodies. When we come to those experiences of feeling restricted, in most cases, in my example, and probably using me more than anybody else is that, when I feel as an obstacle, I generally try and push through it or push past it.
Or or use some level effort or momentum to navigate beyond it because it’s not pleasing, you know, it doesn’t have that element of satisfaction.
And, and so, but when we use the word ease, when we come to some of these difficulties that we sense in our body, we soften a little bit and we soften what happens on a neurological and repatterning level, we find new strategies to move.
That gives, that gives us elements where we have more choice. more choice. And so if we have more choice, then that negates the habituation that we generally exist in. Those habituations restrict range of motion create segmentations to our biomechanics and also from a structural perspective, we lose our ability to support our spine so so it’s so the biomechanics and now experience inter woven in such a deep way that, and that’s why I say we need to kind of strip it right back to its seed form because that to me, then enables us to slowly and peel away you know, some of the blind spots that we have and really start to reinterpret our body in a in different ways that gives us an experience that’s completely new and in some ways, shifts our paradigm to where we are and what we think about our physicality. So it’s it’s, to me, it’s a deep learning of what it is to be a human being on all level. And we start with the biomechanics, but it’s just the entry point.
Yeah. Well, I feel that that is really the mantra of your philosophy, which is keep it simple, find ease, and find, then you come to that balance between stability and mobility.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And a lot of things when you know when it’s easy, or when it’s simple. A lot of things are revealed to you. Yeah. Yeah, when it’s complex, and when it’s intense and when you’re chasing a particular agenda or being influenced by particular motivation, you stopped listening.
Yes, I fully agree.
So, and you know, easy can mean many different things to people. But overall, it has a soft a softness, an attitude of softness, and an attitude of acceptance, which is really hard to align with at times.
Yes yeah, might be the hardest lessons of our lives to find that ease and softness. I don’t think we are built that way. I just don’t think we’re built that way. So it takes practice.
Yea well are we built that way? Well, it’s hard to know, really, you know how much of it is structured in us and how much is it something that is innate, you know, so who knows, really, and that’s an never ending conversation, I suppose, for behaviourist.
All right, maybe that’s a, that’s a topic for a different conversation then.
Yeah, absolutely. How does society structure our attitudes?
Alright, so I think I’m gonna end it right here. That’s a lot on biomechanics. But definitely, I think gives a different perspective on seeing my biomechanics and in a less mechanical way and see it more as a part of our organic being. And I think that’s quite beautiful.
Yeah, yeah, I think so too. You know, just keep it real, really, I suppose and we’re in our body is a great teacher.
Oh, yes, I agree. Our bodies,
Uh oh oh, let me finish,
what, what what, what
Let me finish. Let me finish with that. A great, our body is a great teacher but it can also be a great impostor and delude us.
so be careful
now, I want to talk more
All right, well, leave it for the next one aye
Yes, yes, we’ll leave it for the next one. Okay, well, thank you everybody for listening. Thank you, Vincent for the conversations and we’ll be back in the next Hañsa conversation.
Thank you Meta.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations -a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more about Hañsa at Hañsa.yoga on the web, where you can also purchase online practice videos to practice at home. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to get updates on our latest news. So join us on the next Hañsa conversation and thank you for listening.
Ep. 7 – Flow
In this episode, we dive into a discussion of Flow. Starting with a discussion on Hañsa Flow and its elements, that leads into a discussion of what is Flow? How does one maintain a state of flow? How can we cultivate ourselves through a flow practice, especially the hañsa flow practice
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to Hañsa Conversations – A podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome and listen in.
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to Hañsa conversations. Back with me Meta from Hañsa Indonesia and Vincent Bolletta, founder director of Hañsa. Vincent is still in Beijing today. How are you Vincent?
I’m good. Thank you. I’m doing well.
Weather is good? Filming is good?
Good work. That’s some things to do now.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, everything is going well. The filming is just consistent and constant and yeah, just an avalanche of it that needs to be done. But it’s good
All right, let’s have another conversation. We’ll, let’s talk about flow today. So I’m just gonna start with asking you to just share a little bit about Hañsa flow because it’s a major part of Hañsa. So maybe tell us what is Hañsa flow and why did you decide to create Hañsa flow?
Okay, so Hañsa flow is based upon this idea that our movements linked to developmental patterns. Everything that we do in life has a relationship to the initial beginnings of how we started to move how we learned to move how we develop our reflexes, point of balance and locomotion. And so I wanted Hañsa flow to reflect and these big early beginnings and our evolution physical evolution in ways that was a little bit more stylised. And obviously, there’s a creative component to it as well. But in essence, it all sits within a rehabilitative relationship because these developmental movements determine functionality, also longevity. And in essence is, it’s what determines the way that we experience our body in space.
Okay, so when we connect back with our development pattern, then our, we returns, or we improve some of the functionality and how we can maintain longevity in the body. Is that right?
Yeah, that’s right. Look Hañsa is about ease of movement and finding pathways that are well coordinated or strategise in ways that create better coordinated actions. Hañsa flow is also about establishing a relationship to our body that has an attitude of these two. So when when we reclaim our developmental relationships, our movement tends to improve, we flow more, flow in space more easily. Things generally don’t seem to be so conflicting. So as a theme or goal, I thought yeah developmental patterns as a relationship to a class that has elements or choreographic components to it. So it’s not just about the physical body, but it’s also trying to establish some relationship to, to the way that we learn and remember and heighten our cognitive states was all based upon or is based upon, or it links to the Hañsa flow that I teach.
So how are these developmental patterns put into the sequencing of Hañsa flow? How is Hañsa flow sequencing different from other yoga flows out there?
Well, that’s that’s a good question in terms of what is the difference and the difference to me is that when when I teach Hañsa flow, I talk about spirals I talk about rotational relationships, i three dimensional appreciation of of space and our body in space. So how movement does take us sometimes off the mat, gets us to change directions, us has to transition that in ways that has more rotation to it rather than sometimes how we practice yoga, it’s relatively linear in the way that we generally move in life. There’s more compound compounding actions I would say as well. When I say compounding, this is multifaceted in the way that we move around. Rather than thinking of just individual leavers, there is a complexity to the movement that I try and express in the flow practices, which again, links back to the way that, that we organise that organise ourselves in everyday life.
You know, we’re on this continuum of movement that varies in its intensity, and I want the Hañsa flow practices to reflect that. And so I was slightly for the lack of a better term just disenchanted by the vinyasa practices or flow practices and that I used to do and what is much more to this, then, then, you know, and then there’s much more to yoga than this. And if Yoga is a reflection of life in our microscopic way, and then we need to practice in a way that does truly reflect the way that we organise ourselves outside of the mat and how we live our life. So I wanted more out of my flow practice and this is where I think Hañsa flow established itself as a separate entity but still very much linked to the Hañsa therapy system that I also teach because to me movement is healing and how you move really determines the quality of that healing and a moving and moving keeps you you know keeps just physiologically your body alive. The circulatory system requires things to move. So things don’t become stagnant. So, you know, I wanted movement of the Hañsa flow movement to reflect the therapeutic relationships that that I talked about that but also that movement talks about.
So you, with Hañsa flow, you’re bringing people to connect back with their spiral in the body and the rotation in the body and, which is, which is, which is close to how we naturally move. Can you talk a little bit about spirals and rotations? What is that exactly?
Yeah, that what is that exactly? Well, you know, most of our movement processes, there’s two types of rotational relationship one’s translation, rotation and once the central axis rotation. And so and we can sit in both paradigms and one, you know, when we rotate, sometimes we move off our centre, we have to move out from centre especially if, if we’re trying to, you know, move from one spatial region to another, so we have to move our centre.
And then one is where we, we rotate on a centre and we maintain our position in space. And so we always kind of backwards and forwards with these and I quite like that and the other thing that rotation speaks about is cross-linking patterns. And so when we rotate in one direction and our body, you know, naturally will, at the same time, rotate in the opposite. So it’s sort of counteracts, the primary rotation that we’re working with or the spiral that we’re working with. So it maintains a certain equilibrium to that center that I mentioned. And then at the same time, you know, we’re looking at cross-linking patterns between left and right side, rotations, multi dimensional, multifaceted, and so as you’re rotating to reach up there’s also an oppositional rotation down as well.
And so and when we talk about rotation, we talk about the shape of our soft tissue, you know, our soft tissue sits within sort of kind of spirals, if you like the muscular systems attached to a bony structure that’s also in itself, not straight. There’s, you know, bumps and grooves and turns and twists to it to indicate that our movement is not linear. But our movement is rotational or is more around the spiral nature of life. And so the rotational relationships I think are essential to longevity as well. So as we start to lose functionality, we start to lose rotational qualities in our joints in our spine, and in general movement.
So you’re putting all this into the Hañsa flow, the development patterns, rotation, the spiral the different directions. Do you see, What difference do you see in your students who’ve been practicing Hañsa Flow for a while? What changes do you see after practicing this for a while?
One observation, no, there’s a couple of stories that need to come across first, then and you know which we have spoken about before. One is self practice. And I think that’s really important. And the other is taking responsibility for the experience that we’re having. And then when these components come together, like ingredients is, you know, something unique happens to the individual when they start moving. There there’s a general tendency for people to be more present to what they’re doing. So the movement slows down. It’s quite interesting and it’s now observable vibratorial, vibrational tone, that harmonises at a very kind of low pace, or resonance. And so it’s something unique about the as you view these clients moving happens and, and there’s, there’s a greater from.., and and it’s just purely subjective, but there’s a greater appreciation from a visual perspective of the person moving.
They’re more appreciating the body in space, they are more discerning about the way that they’re moving or they’re more interested in the way that they’re moving and so, things become more graceful, things become much more intricate and intimate. There is a such a personalised experience that I feel is happening. And, and there’s a you know it’s this is this one thing that just stands out and that it just becomes more pleasing you know, that there is this this smile that appears, internal smile. And and the some of the comments that I get back is that they really start to enjoy their bodies they start to really enjoy the movement. And so my my question to you is because you’ve been practicing the Hañsa flow, how does it make you feel? This is from my personal observation of my practice and obviously my students, but I would like to know, from your experience and telling, you know, the listeners your experience of it.
Well, I, after practicing Hañsa flow, I think even from the very beginning, the first class I took of yours, I just suddenly feel like I have another whole world to, to observe and and and get to know which is my whole experience, my body and how my body moves and all that. That is something that I didn’t feel before. I mean like I felt that to a certain degree but I feel that the with the Hañsa flow practice, as you said I was brought into the state of presence where I am more quiet and therefore I notice a lot more in terms of the way I move. how I lift my arm, how I lift my legs, and and from there, I learned so much about my own body that I kept wanting more like I really started self practicing when I started doing Hañsa flow. Before that I wasn’t interested in self practice, because I never felt something engaging enough to practice by myself, but with Hañsa, I felt that suddenly I’m very much engaged in what’s happening and therefore I just kept wanting more.
Yeah, it’s, that’s quite a comm.. Yeah, it’s quite a common experience, I feel as well. And so yeah, thank you for sharing
you’re welcome, happy to share. So yes, I really find Hañsa flow to be such a beautiful practice and I feel that it’s never ending and I like how it becomes, I feel that the goal Hañsa flow is really self practice in the end. It’s your journey, like you can guide us through your sequence. But once we know the sequence, then the rest of that experience that journey is ourselves. And I think that is quite beautiful. And that’s quite important, because we rarely give the time for ourselves to understand our own bodies and movement. So I think that’s very precious.
Very, very cool.
So, coming back to the word flow itself, how do you describe flow, what is flow to you?
What is flow to me. Flow is a state of mind. Flow is nothing really that physically tangible even though we use our body to create environments, internal environments for us to move into a state of mental flow. Flow for me is an attitude. Flow for me is a way of being as well now these days. So, close about your ability to maintain a level of attention, stable attention on the object that you’re viewing or engaging with. And in the Hañsa flow practices is, even though there’s movement involved, the essence of it is deeply contemplated. Yeah because we are were inquiring on is more about our ability to maintain the levels of stable attention and also expand that attention or expand the field our attention. So we take in more of what we’re doing is we practice. So we harness and and basically develop or cultivate. I think our mental capacity to be more sensitive, intimate and engaging of of the actual moment that we are deciding to be present to. So we do that on
How do you build that? How, What What are some of the recipes to build that in your Hañsa flow, to get to that state of mental flow.
So there is a couple of principles to, you know, anchor our attention. And I and I use certain philosophical principles to do that, and also use certain practical tools to establish that to within, within the practice. The practice is layered. So there’s a number of stages to it, I have what I would call, the seed practice which is at the beginning, which establishes that level of quietness and intimacy and just trying to arrive more deeply into the body or at least, you know, go a few layers and and more. Then we have once we’ve established that then we have the development stage where there is a number of sections to it that we have to engage and these reflect more as I was mentioned before, the developmental movement practices and and there’s a number of aspects of how to engage our body in space and how to navigate that space and also the choreographic choreographic relationship that’s been established. And then finally, there is the finishing of the practice that again, brings us back to a deeper, I suppose, appreciation of what has been done, but also to cement the experience. And I think these these things are essential.
And so I try and use a mixture of physical and mental protocols, that one is meditative in its nature. Then at the same time, there is a physicality to it that engages the reality of our experiences as well. I think this is a this is important and it’s important that practice has that level of contemplative subtlety. And if it doesn’t, I think we always sit within the superficial bounds and our flows that we try and then manufacture as, are in themselves manufactured in a superficial way, in ways that don’t necessarily take us deeper into the inquiry that the practice of yoga does suggest us to go to go further in questioning some of our our belief systems and or our attitudes around what we believe in.
So the what you will find when you come to a Hañsa flow class that we start with certain specific themes. Now the themes are not grand not you know, there’s some theming that goes on in yoga that seems to be overly grand and unrealistic. These themes are more deeply personal and sit within a humble, humble realm, which are easier to connect, accessible. And then it’s about knowledge really of one’s body. And so there’s anatomical relationships and there’s anatomical movement patterns that we want to really engage with, because this is really reflective of our bodies generally in a common way. So these, I know I’m probably going on now, but there is a lot of stuff that enables you to go deeper and deeper and deeper because the states of flow are beyond the physical, you know, and, and it sits within almost this level of stillness. Or somebody has mentioned that you know, as movement and meditation combined, and that’s what I like to think Hañsa flow is.
I’m just curious actually, how long can a person maintain a state of flow? Is, i don’t know, there might not be a one answer, but
Well depending on the interest, I suppose because there is, you know, flow is is can be measured there’s a qualitative process. And having, you know, people been measured to be in a state of flow, mental flow for up to, you know, two to three days.
Yeah, it depends on the level of interest that depends on the level of intensity, there’s a number of really specific ingredients is that, that can define the environment of flow or can can be the catalyst to flow. And one is that the activity that you’re doing has to be just slightly beyond your ability to do it. So that maintains a level of interest and inquiry. And that’s really important. Now, if the level is too much in terms that you know, it’s beyond You to do it and you have to really struggle and create conflict and use excessive effort. And then states of flow will not happen. But it just has to be just enough for you not to be able to achieve it for you to be or to be able to achieve what is required, for your mind to be really, really interested and pursuing what you’re doing. That’s a really important ingredient now, and apparently when you reach certain states of flow, deep flow, you lose all sense of time you lose your sense of self, and more importantly, you lose all sense of connectivity to your body.
Okay, so you just,
Yeah that’s really interesting. When I say when I say lose, lose, lose all sense of connectivity to your body. You don’t feel hungry, you don’t want to go to the bathroom. There is a deep absorption in the mental status.
Wow. Yeah, it’s just something I cannot comprehend. I mean for a a few hours, yes, I can imagine that but three days that’s, that’s an achievement.
Yeah, there is the people that seemingly get into the states of flow more easily are your gamers. They can spend days losing themselves. You know, in in in this virtual reality that obviously the virtual reality is close enough to reality that that it makes the senses really, really interested in what’s happening and can’t differentiate between the two.
Yes. Right so So coming back to normal people like me who doesn’t have not achieved three days of state of flow. In your practice, in the Hañsa flow practice, you mentioned that you use simple theme, simpler themes, not too grand. Can you share some of an example your themes and why simple rather than grand? what’s, what difference does it make?
Because it’s something that you can feel as an experience in your body. A simple theme would be something like breathing in and breathing out, and relaying that to expanding and condensing forces. And then expanding that further and further into bigger, larger examples. And then using the physical practice of cat cow, as a way of establishing an understanding of what it is to expand and what it is to condense. And then, you know, and and these are, you know, tangible physical experiences that we can have. It doesn’t it’s not that esoteric that we have to take, we have to take a jump of faith, a leap of faith, to believe in something, we don’t have to believe it because it’s there. It’s already there in our bodies waiting for us to experience it.
Now if you’re starting to talk about things that are not readily available to most people’s reality, and then it becomes a source of faith around it. And so and what I also like to say at this point, in that what you can experience physically is not a subjective realm that I’m talking about. You can feel your hand you can feel you arm. It’s there. What you think about your hand or your arm is very subjective but you can feel your arm, feel your hand. So when you anchor ourselves to these very practical and intangible life realities, that are quantifiable to some level, yeah, then then that anchors our attention. There is a reality to our breath. What you feel about your breath is totally different, but there’s a reality to your breath. And once we anchor ourselves to that, and start to start to delve into the behaviour of that breath, start to notice what is that breath mean to me in terms of my movement, in terms of how it actually keeps me alive and enables me to be who I am.
It’s very interesting, and it’s almost a complete opposite of the approach that is taken in a lot of yoga classes and not saying a lot of your classes are not right. I mean I enjoy the classes too. But a lot of yoga classes tend to take a more grander approach, things like you said that it might require more faith for it than connecting to the reality, the objective reality that you’re experiencing. And in those classes, one can actually come to State of flow but it’s very different than the state of flow that you’ve been talking about. The state of flow in a lot of these classes are are created based on a full experience created by the teacher like almost a really guided process. And it’s just yeah, I’m just observing and very interested in the complete different direction that you’re taking in your approach.
Yeah, I understand that, you know, it’s easy to manipulate the experience for people and create environments that can create emotional charge. And that emotional charged then can can if you like, influence our our reality, but it comes from an external source. It comes from, it comes from a manufactured environment that’s superficial that’s, that’s outside of you.
Does, it doesn’t come from a deep inquiry that comes from you. And the investigation is not the rhythms of the external realities, the investigation is the rhythms of your internal reality. Because let’s put it this way, your attitude has a flow to it until you understand what that means and how that impacts on possibilities of creating conflict and segmentation. Because look, at the end of the day when you’re practicing flow practices, you’re not looking to flow you’re looking at what hinders your flow.
And when you start to find what hinders your flow, then you’re getting closer to the ability to flow. Yeah, and so there’s a there’s there is a tendency to delude ourselves in many ways of what we think we’re doing. And so for me, the yoga practice when it becomes deeply contemplative and it has movement associated to it. It’s an expression that our attitudes impact on our physicality. And that’s from a real tangible reality. And what you actually investigating in the state of flow or in the state of these practices, as I said, is what obstacles are hindering you from to flow from one moment to the other. And one is you just mentioned before was the ability to maintain mental stability.
And there’s reasons for that. And until you start to make that inquiry, you don’t know what those reasons are.
It’s interesting, though, yes, you’re right after a while, then we start noticing what hinders our flow. But for me, personally, based on my experience, I didn’t get to that point until I understand first, what exactly is the state of this internal flow and once I passed that, then I start noticing what hinders my flow, which then once I addressed them, then I returned back to the state of flow. But one I feel that people don’t come to to understanding what hinders that flow until they understand what is flow first. Does that make sense? Is this a chicken and egg problem?
It kind of is a chicken and egg problem. But, you know, I decided that the observation for me is that we have to strip it back to some of the things that we are motivated to do. Because those motivations are actually what are driving our reality or experience of our reality, especially our physicality. And so most people come to flow practices to either possibly find a new meaning and purpose to their life or or alleviate some of the restrictions and wanting to sense freedom. Yeah, but freedom is a double edged sword. You know, you can’t have freedom without first inquiring what is restricting your freedom. So the investigation actually turns on its head. It has to. You know, I can’t grow, you know, I know certain, I don’t know, flowers or what have you and all that kind of stuff if I don’t first clear out the weeds and cultivate the ground and bring nutrients to the environment that I want to grow my awareness on. So first I have to I have to establish, I have to establish a foundation that’s going to support my practice, and you won’t know what their foundation is until you start to self practice.
In your now analogy though. I’m just thinking back to what I said I wouldn’t want to convert the ground unless I already see that flower is beautiful, unless I already understood the beauty of the flower, then I wouldn’t even begin to start the process, right. right. To, to have that beautiful flower, I have to cultivate the ground and do my weeding and then do my culling and all that.
What do you think the flower is you! You know what I mean? So you are the flower you are what you are trying to grow, and cultivate I mean, is there anything to grow? No, not necessarily what you’re trying to achieve as far as be enhanced your potentialality or ex the experience of yourself and all its glory.
Right? Yes. Yes, agree. Thank you.
All right. So continuing the conversation, so coming back to Hañsa flow. So it is a practice that, like you just said, ultimately we are cultivating ourselves. We’re growing ourselves to the best of our potentiality. So it is really a practice for everybody. But it is not, sometimes, it can be confusing to people the choreography, the sequencing can be confusing to people. Like yesterday, we just had a class and some of the comments that that it was difficult sometimes to follow. Can you talk about that this this elements of complexity in your sequence and your intention with that?
Yes, so. So the the flow practice is is like a Mandala. It has layers to it from simple to complex, and you teach it and in stages, or you teach them as those layers. Simple and then you add on, and then you add on. Now, obviously everybody learns differently. And on a on a visual level, some people are much more heightened. Some people like to listen more, some people are more kinesthetic. So different ways of kind of learning something. The practice is trying to also, or in terms of the presentation of the teaching of the flow, is trying to cater for those different levels of learning.
The complexity, I think it’s a good thing. And somehow, in this whole equation of being an adult, we have lost the ability to to want to be beginners again, or make mistakes or feel confused. Somehow or another we have lost that, that level of ourselves that we are here as as an exploration as much as developing knowledge and understanding and making mistakes and not knowing and being confused is a critical part of learning and we’ve forgotten that. I don’t know why. But as children, we know that very, very well and maybe there’s part of the phase of growing, but that needs to be still maintained as an attitude as we practice this flow. And everything takes time. And the more you become familiar with something, the more you will remember what it is that you’re doing. And and, and you’ll feel more and more successful.
So the element of not knowing, of course it creates certain levels of uncertainty, maybe an agitative aspect to it. That’s, that’s not a bad thing in my mind, that means you you’re being engaged on a level that is beyond your capability and that’s okay too. So I quite like, quite like, and it’s not a physical challenge. So I like the listeners to understand it’s not that what I’m asking you to do physically is difficult, it’s just the cognitive aspect of it is being challenged. Your memory is being challenged your your, your understanding of what it is to piece movements together, and how to transition in ways that is logical to to, that movement is being challenged. And when we move, we move in spiral so it’s going to challenge your equilibrium and your position in space, etc. And these are good things because these challenges maintain a certain degree of, of regenerative processes that are deep within your neurological system. And so, and, and the key is, you know, if I didn’t quite, if I go and, you know, choose a modality that I’ve never done before, I’m not going to instantly pick it up straight away. Why would I have that? Why would I have that expectation that I need to know it right now?
Well a lot of people have that expectation.
Yeah, you know, I pick up the guitar. I mean, I’m not gonna play you know, you know, full, full song. All in this complexities straightaway, I’m going to just, you know, learn what the guitar is. And when you start practicing Hañsa flow, you’re going to start to learn what is the body? What is your body? And how does your body move? And how does it, How is it impacted on on the way that you interpret your body? And so you’re going to learn about certain things first, I think this is good. I think it’s really good. And so I like I like that idea that it has that element of challenge. Because in challenges we grow.
Yeah, I like that too. I mean, not always easy, honestly with the challenge. And the challenge, a lot of times, like you said, it’s not a physical challenge, but like mental attitudinal challenge. And I feel that practicing Hañsa or learning about myself is also in a way, a very humbling experience. Because knowing something about ourselves, sometimes can be a very difficult thing. But it’s also a very good thing because it gives us a chance to grow. I think that’s one of the beauty of the Hañsa flow practice to me.
Now as, I just go back to saying that it is layered and so there’s simplicity to it at the same time. The simplicity in itself can be quite complex. And I think that’s a challenge for most people. not not necessarily this. Yeah, it’s not necessary that you know, because anybody can remember a sequence if you just give yourself a chance.to remember. But what comes with that sequence, the themes and approach and and the way that you need to engage it. That in itself is the difficulty. The movement itself to be simple is not easy. You know, I think I think in essence, we, we can complicate things in our minds. And so it is paradoxical as you said.
Yeah. Well, I really, I mean, you know, I love this practice. And I really encourage, if you’re listening to this, and you’ve never tried it before, I really encourage you to try it. We have online videos and we even have live classes. So yes, this is my plugin. So just try it.
This is your plugin? [laughter] beautiful, Thank you Meta.
Would you like to do your plugin too or is there anything you would like to share more about flow?
No, no, I did have a thought but it just slipped my mind right now. So. But, uh, yeah, it’s a practice that is for everybody on the surface, it can seem a little bit daunting. But you know, when when you are engaging the practice when you when you’re in a taught when you’re taught in a way that as I mentioned, it’s simple to complex, it starts to make sense. And it doesn’t necessarily have to follow the choreography that I I create it can, you know, as I said at the earlier part of this podcast, that flow is a state of mind. And so, you know, it can be anything, it can be any movement, but the key here is connecting to that movement and what I like particularly about Hañsa flow is that, it prioritises that, passage of, practice the connection. I think to me, this is essential and connection on multiple levels, because we experienced life on multiple levels. And so we experienced ourselves on multiple levels. And now how can you not get excited when you are moving and watching yourself move? I mean, this is your body that enables you to experience the life that you’re having. How can you not get excited about that and get really interested about that? You know? I mean, this is this defines your reality, this thing that you carry around 24 seven, How can you not want to be engaged in this thing. So that’s what I’m, you know, my plugin as I suppose. Yeah, yeah. And do buy the videos.
Thank you. Yes, yes. Well, it’s a practice that definitely requires investment. I feel that I mean, talking about flow. It’s the same with meditation. It requires some kind of, you have to be invested in the process, in yourself and wanting to do that. work I think that it’s quite similar too because only then then, you know you reach that state I think.
Yeah, agree. Totally agree.
Well, thank you Vincent, for sharing about Hañsa flow. That was beautiful. And we thank you also everybody who’s listening. Yes, like we both said, try it. Maybe buy the video. But thank you for listening really, from wherever you are. And hopefully you’ll come back in the next episode. Thanks, Vincent.
Thank you, Meta.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more about Hañsa at Hañsa.yoga on the web, where you can also purchase online practice videos to practice at home. Don’t forget to sign up to our mailing list to get updates on our latest news. So join us on the next Hañsa Conversations and thank you for listening.
Ep. 8 – Mind Body Connection
Yoga is often said to be a Mind Body practice that leads us to some sort of transendence. In this episode we dive into the different aspects of Mind & Body. How do we build awareness of our body? Should we trust our body? How does the reality of aging come into play? We also talked about a different way of look at transcendence and some approaches on how we can live our lives.
Read transcript here
Hi, I’m Meta. Welcome to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. The Hañsa philosophy is based on a therapeutic idea that is relational and adaptable. Through this podcast, we want to create a deeper conversation to build sensitivity and awareness around movement practices and life in general. So welcome and listen in.
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to Hañsa Conversations. And I’m Meta. I’m from Hañsa, Indonesia. And Vincent Bolletta. Founder director of Hañsa. Good morning, Vincent. How are you?
I’m Good. Good morning, Meta.
You haven’t had your coffee yet, I heard. I’m still struggling as well. I don’t have my tea yet.
There you go. Yes. And need need that fixed up in the morning.
Yes, but let’s start talking. I thought we talk about mind and body, actually, because I feel that people talk about it a lot. People always mention that, you know, yoga is a mind and body movement practice. And it’s actually an important component also for Hañsa. So I thought, we just see if we can talk about that a little bit more.
I’m going to begin with this. A lot of the work in Hañsa therapy and flow requires us to be aware of our body. So we start with the body first. So beginning with that, I think for somebody who’s quite new into it and not used to this practice, what steps can we do to begin that journey towards awareness of our own body?
Right. So there is an number of, I suppose, logical steps and that is, first and foremost yoga practices have certain requirements, certain protocols and certain reasons why you do what you do and on a practical level in certain, if you like, technical relationships that you have to understand about your body. So, you know, it’s like the A’s and B’s of yoga and just knowing where your how to position your leg, how to organize your arm, how to support your spine, you know, these are some basic common information and knowledge that is acquired as a beginner. So you start off really quite simply learning about what these things are becoming familiar with it. And it’s almost like learning a new language for some people. You know, learning about your body is, is very strange and it’s sometimes daunting and for some of us, we take for granted that we have a body but we don’t really know what that is what that means. So, you start at these – what’s called basic levels but necessary too because you know, eventually as we refine our relationship to her body takes us a little bit deeper. And we start to see that the body is more than just some physical thing muscles and bones and hearts and lungs and stuff. It goes much further than that. But so in most yoga practices, you know beginner classes, you know, you just starting to figure it all out and the in the tuition is really catered for you to start to figure it all out.
So then after getting that connection between knowing okay, placement of hands, how the spine is situated and all that what’s the next step after that? How do we start building that connection between the awareness, and a deeper level of understanding of the body.
Yeah, good. Yeah, good question because there’s a couple of essential ingredients as one takes time. And with time you become, as I said, just a little bit more familiar. But what actually says to establish in itself is greater sensitivity to the body. And also what arises is a number of questions that gives you a little bit more insight and some of the things that we do physically and how that can possibly contribute to some of the malaise that we have phys.. also physically in our body. It’s about refinement at the end of the day, so any good yoga practice eventually is about stripping it back making the actions more subtle. Adding more themes that touch upon one’s psychology or emotionality or just themes that basically asks you to asks, ask questions about, you know, what it is and who it is that’s moving this physical thing.
And, and it does take a little bit of time and, and you know, within the Hañsa practices, you know, there is a physical component. And, you know, I was thinking about it when you said about mind and body and it’s really which one we prioritise, and as a beginner we prioritise the physicality first, but eventually we start to tip it more towards one’s psychology and one’s emotionality. And a good practice, I think, is a balance between the two, the physical and one’s mental relationships. And so eventually, you know, the the there’s a broader dialogue that happens that we move beyond the physical realm, and we move more deeply into, you know, our interpretations, our narratives that determine these interpretations. So it fits, I think, within the yoga model called the Kosha model or Kosha system. Because that’s a layered system too and I know it’s categorised in such a way. It’s easy to learn and, and also easy to teach. But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. So, and I like the idea of teaching Hañsa yoga through the Kosha model because I think it fits the human experience more more truthfully. And, and it’s something that takes us from, as I said, superficial to much deeper, deeper requirements.
So And once we start connecting all that, I mean, this just reminded me of something we discussed before in a previous conversation in Hañsa. And you mentioned that a part of it to get to know your body is to have an exploration. And I feel that a component of exploration, there has to be a certain trust that we have in the body. And I feel that way as well in the practice of Hañsa flow. The movement actually, once to trust the body, it happens so naturally, that you can just allow the body to move quite naturally. In that process of trusting the body. How do we ballance of really trusting the body versus, I don’t know maybe sometimes my mind kicks in and question my trust in my body. How can we fully really just listen to the body and and trust and understand that the workings of our own body that way.
Yeah, this this is a very deep discussion. Because first we have to deconstruct what we think the body is and and we have certain, if you like, bias that we we believe in and trust. And so part of this this process of getting to know the body is also finding out what is it that we’re using to interpret the body at our current level. And, and then because a lot of a lot of the things that we do, really, I think in my mind misconstrue what we think the body is or We without attitudes and inbuilt sort of bias. We misconstrue what the body body can actually do, or how it functions. You know, sometimes our learnings can indoctrinate us into specific understandings.
And and those understandings will eventually be expressed through our physicality and, and so even even movement modalities, will have some level of interpretation what the think the body is that is based upon a whole variety of reasons and if you’re a dancer, it’s one of the reasons you know is based around performance. Your body is a movement is is a canvas for your expressions, your attitudes, your belief systems, your investigation, so the body is seen as a tool to that and and there’s elements of it too that you have to perform in a particular way that also can realistically say takes it outside its normal functionality. And when I say that it’s not a negative, it’s just you know, sometimes you know, when we express ourselves that has specific meanings to us that are really important or we we see more the body as a tool for expression there is this unlimited consideration to it so we can push ourselves too far. And you know, and that’s quite evident in terms of injuries within and I’m not picking on the dance community, far from it and this is anything but injuries you know, in the dance community injuries and, in that you know, track and field injuries in all kinds of movement modalities that require you to express yourself more and more skillfully, at a higher and higher level of intensity.
And so and so. So these are some of the indoctrinations that start to determine what we think the body is and also how we use it. So what is what is, you know, functional, what is useful to us, is really a long process of investigating. And that process is not, it’s not linear. Because, you know, we go through different phases in our life. And depending upon the phase that we’re in, our body will mean different to mean different things to us in that phase. And then we’ll start using it differently because of that. So it says, it’s not a simple matter of getting to know just simple structures and simple functionalities. We have to get to know more the dynamics of Life of movement. And, and these dynamics change depending upon the environment that these dynamics exist in, and that environment is both external and also internal. So we have to also consider that the aging process is quite a large educator within within getting to know the body and getting to know it in a way that then we realise that functionality is not a static thing. And functionality is a consistent and permanent process. That is really dependent upon a number of physiological states that in themselves are not static and they’re very transient in nature.
So, when we when we learn about functionality we will learn about I think that states within the physical realm of very transient. Now that that’s, you know, quite theoretically, I think it’s easy to understand but on an embodied and psychological level, that’s not. Because that also then implies that your mind is the same. Your mind also, that the mind goes through changes in the, for example, what I believe, you know what I believed in 10 years ago, I don’t believe in the same things anymore. I have a different interpretation of life. Because of the experiences I’ve had it within that space of 10 years.
And also too the way that I feel my body now from 10 years ago is very different because I feel the degenerative component to my body now, I feel certain aspects to myself that are not necessarily what it was, you know, 10 years ago when I was a little bit more vital and healthier, if you like. Or more resilient as a physical structure as well as mental and emotional structure. So, so the mind is just as transient and just as dynamic and just as ever changing as the body. And then the other thing we have to then realise is that when we say trust the body, if everything is ever changing, once you’ve you’ve established a certain belief system that the body is this and you start to trust that and that starts to change, then what happens to that trust? Then what happens to that interpretation? Do do we do we start to have, you know, certain, uncertainties grow and within that growth, anxieties and a lack of stability, because what we have believed in so much that we have come to believe in so much is now changing in front of us. So it’s not as it’s not as easy matter of just establishing this concept of trust. Because trust in itself is a very changeable thing. And because things change.
And we have to, and that we have to adapt those changes. But what we have to learn is that what is functional is something that goes through a process that is transient is and I’ll use this word, aging. And there is a cycle to it. But more important there’s a story to it that has a beginning, middle, and more importantly, it has an end. And so what we start to actually trust is not something that’s identifiable as a physical thing, but as a pattern as a rhythm that expresses the continuum of life.
Sorry, I’m just pondering.
Yea, you ponder as much as you want.
But okay, yes, there’s patterns and rhythms. But I mean, change is one thing that is constant in life. And it’s also, to me one of the hardest things to comprehend sometimes. And I feel that with patterns, there’s also it can also be almost rigid in a way because if, as we talked about I mean, patterns developed by certain education, in a way that we are formed. And it almost sometimes becomes a lens on how we see the world. And then, as you said, also, it’s, it’s hard when that lens that we used to see the world suddenly change? And I guess I’ve sometimes I forget that this whole learning, It’s not an individual, individual process, because when it comes to changing this, this lens and perspective, it often comes with somebody else coming in and telling us something that made us go, Alright, I didn’t see that before. But unless that is being pointed out, then I am it’s it’s harder, I think for individuals to, to break out of that, that whatever state that they’re in. Is that right to say that? I mean, is there a way that, how can we follow this, this this aging and changing of time on our own? Or do we always have to have others pointing things out that we might have unable to see or bypass?
Yeah, having others is another important tool. Teachers, I think, essentially support this educational process this, this educational process becomes about teaching how to observe how to see. And, you know, beyond the, you know, the colored lenses that that we usually see things from. So community is an essential ingredient. But just like the mind and body, there has to be a balanced outlook we can do practices that are just physically body orientated. And then we can do practices as a purely if you like mind or psycho psychologically driven. But the body is the mind and the mind is the body. So by you know, cultivating a particular emphasis on one more than the other, you do a disservice to the whole sort of experience of being in a physical moving ageing you know organism.
And so it’s the same with with this idea of community and self practice. Sometimes we can overemphasise the status of community. I think it’s important don’t get me wrong. But sometimes community can be distracting. Community can be misleading. Community can move into rhythms and and birds of a feather flock together kind of scenario and that we all start to believe in the same thing. And nobody really truly asks the hard questions because now the the power of community has a tendency to override individuality. It tends to negate people’s differences and variables and or you know, and particular orientations. And and, you know, communities and communities can become stagnant themselves. Communities can become hierarchical And communities can can actually actually stifle the exploration. And so individual practice individual practice is important, and individual practice is, I think also safeguards the practitioner. And there’s not enough, in my mind, orientated to individual self practice because that’s where you really the true, the true exploration happens.
The communities where you come and share your explorations and it’s a sounding board into to what you have been going through to to really ascertain with what you’re sensing and starting to align with, has an element of practicality and truth that’s relatable to other people. And it’s also good, it’s good to get other opinions associated to it because it might readdress or balance your what you think you’re feeling or what you think you’re doing. Because one thing that you know that has been said in the past before by a number of people that, don’t trust your senses. Because your senses are also based upon habituation, belief systems bias, and explorations that also are governed by particular movements.
And so and so that’s a difference. What do you trust is the question, you know, maybe there’s a greater there’s too much of a great emphasis on this idea of trust. Because trust in if we trust something, it has to be stable, and it has to be permanent and it has to be consistent. And I’ve just said before, that nothing is consistent. There is an impermanence to it. Because because trust trust gives you a sense of foundation stability, doesn’t it? And in itself implies that whatever that you’re putting your trust on has the same thing. But life is not like that. Is that right? So, so these are really, really important questions. And so when it comes to this idea of cultivating this, this understanding of who we are, I had this thought this morning, as I was driving here thinking, whoa okay, what is self realisation? Realisation, self realisation is all the things that make up the human experience that is both good and bad. You know, self realisation is not transcending the human experience, it’s actually you know, getting more interbed with it.
So, so this is really for me, the the concept of, of self practice, and this is also the concept of the idea of sharing your stories so that you can enable more objective truth that arises as you share your store stories more, you know, and you’ve heard the phrases before in the past where you know, my students or my teachers, as you hear some teachers say, because as you start to teach, you start to realise what you’re teaching has a relevance or it doesn’t or it has these certain, and these certain conditional relationships that you align with, not your students. And it tells you more about yourself than it does about your students. Because you’re you’re sounding off in those classes and those classes that you’re teaching on your students, and you come to certain realisations, oh, gee, that didn’t really sound very good or that principle that I’m believing in so strongly doesn’t really fit or it needs to adapt, or that’s just total bullshit that I’ve just said, you know, we catch ourselves in those moments. So community is good for that reason. But also not to overemphasise community because it can lead down to sort of rabbit holes that limit human expression.
So I’m going to come back to what you said about even our senses shouldn’t be trusted, because senses is linked to already certain perceptions that we’ve built around the years, over the years. So then, I mean, we are still very sensual creatures as in we make sense of the world through our sense organs. So then when it comes to self practice, then the real practice then would it be in really learning to see what is being sensed in an objective way. And at the same time learning to not attach it to any, I’m going to use the word stories that we already formed. I feel that that might be the approach when it comes to self practice, because we, I mean sense is a part of us, but how do you really see that through an objective eyes, I guess that’s my question here?
Yea it’s a very good question. And it’s not an easy, definable solution to it. Because, you know, we, we believe through a whole variety of societal doctrines that there is this idea of absolute freedom. So that means that there is this element of, there’s a truth somewhere out there that doesn’t sit within any level of bias, subjectivity, or any tampering of, you know, what we’re engaging with, in that moment, whether it be an object or sensation or a thought You know the implication that that somehow we can transcend our bias, we can move beyond our narratives, that’s a really difficult thing to really do. Can we move beyond what the mind identifies as itself, the physical body? Can we can we Can we transcend this physical realm? And if we do to what end? And does the mind become so unattached and nebulous to the reality that that the body exists in that does that bring more objectivity? Or is that just create more and more delusion? These are questions that I don’t have, I don’t have answers to.
And so the notion that we’re practicing yoga for this sense of freedom, maybe is not the right one. Maybe it should be embodying more than trying to transcend and maybe the paradox is this, and that the more you embody the reality of your life or your bias you’re subjectivities subjectivities you know being you know, how we can be deceitful, whether conscious or subconscious and how we how we can be self serving and selfish conscious or self self subconscious. These are the things we need to embody. And some where maybe in this deeper investigation of what it is to be a human being with all its negative and positive conditions that that it has, there may be somewhere there is an element of transcendence. Now transcendence is probably not the right word, and I’m going to use something that’s a little bit more tangible: acceptance of who we are what we are. And maybe in that acceptance is the environment for the transcendence. Or in that acceptance, there is the environmental understanding the nature of life that is both living and dying. You know, probably equal amount of the two.
We live and die at the same time, and there’s a, I think, a beautiful quote, some somewhere I read years ago and that, you know, within one breath, you have lived and died 72,000 times. You know, and so, transcendence is very positive, isn’t it? It’s like we can move beyond death itself, in some respects, you know. Why do you want to move beyond death itself when death is part of the existence of you.
you know that it is you. And no matter how many, you know, things we do, how many somersaults and gymnastics mentally and physically we do in our meditation and yoga practices, it doesn’t change the fact that that is still part of you and will be part of you and there will be an ultimate experience that you will have and you’re having that now, because it is the birth and death of each moment. But, but our orientation is always around the birth, the living, you know, the the moment of vitality. And so when I say before that aging is an essential ingredient to learning because it teaches you more of a balanced outlook to what it is that is living right now. And it’s hard to fathom that until you get to that point in life that you’re sensing your had, you have a mental maturity or you have a physical maturity, that now understands that a little bit more clearly because you are sensing it in your body.
And so there’s something to be said about time, establishing a level of wisdom. And that time also enables you to master your relationship to your body. It gives you that opportunity. Because we need to be able to see all the different facets of one’s life and and you know, I was with my parents, probably about two months ago, and what I remember my parents to be and what they are actually now and they’re in the late 80s, are two different people, two different realities. There’s this reality in front of me that I don’t accept. And I always picture my parents to be this vital, always supportive and secure home.
but what’s in front of me is completely opposite. You know, there is a lack of all those things that I see. And I see the aging aspect. I see the degenerative component. I see my future. You know. And so it’s quite, it’s quite a resounding it’s, it’s, it drops you back into Earth drops you back, it drops you back into the reality of actually what life is. And so these are some of the thoughts that I’ve been having in the last few days and especially this morning. And so it’s a good top topic and conversation to have at this moment.
So that it seems like the key to all this thing that all a lot of us meditators and yogis are trying to achieve, the key to transcendence, the key to Samadhi to bliss is really simply acceptance. And that aging & time is a friend.
Yeah, I think acc acceptance is a beautiful word. I think it’s more tangible, more realistic. I have no idea what Samadhi is or Nirvana is or God or heaven. I’ve never experienced it, but I have experienced acceptance. I’ve experienced what it’s like to be accepted. But so we can easily try to live up to these other ideals. That are talking about a level of transcendence. But all I’ve seen the more you try and live up to an ideal, the less likely you’re able to achieve it. And the more conflict you create because these ideals are exactly what they are they’re idealistic, unrealistic
Yeah, I agree. I feel that
And maybe we should, maybe we should humble our spirituality you know, maybe the spirituality is here and now in this moment right now without any added extra add ons to it that we have a tendency to do as human beings you know. We tend to grandise spirituality, we tend to grandise the practice of yoga or meditation. You know and I think and I think that is just yeah. sad in many respects because it takes away from the simplicity of what it truly is. You know, and and Feldenkrais say that beauty, he wrote a book I like I like this, the title of this book, the elusive obvious. And to me this is this is key. The most profound sits in the most simple, but the problem is that simple is not easy as I heard somebody else say just a few days ago. Yeah, I think was I think was Raphan I think. So, Raphan Kebe is a great teacher in in England. So check him out guys if you if you get a chance. So, yeah, so simple isn’t easy. Complex is.
I feel that you just also described the philosophy of Hañsa. Because acceptance is something that is really quiet. Yet once you fully realised or embodied it, the effect is so loud that you cannot ignore it. And yeah, like you said, it’s not about the grand things, but it’s the simplest subtle things that makes the biggest effect.
Yeah, it does. It does. And and it’s and to be subtle or to move into practicing and towards subtlety that is grounded in certain physical and truths, you know, I say physical truth because our body has is governed by certain you know, empirical laws of the universe. Once you align your, your, what would you call it? Once you align your monkey mind to those physical truths it acts as an anchor an foundation at least negates some of the if you go wonderings of one’s thinking and one’s evolution of beliefs. as well which sometimes can lead us into such somatic stupidity that I think it it tends to do us more of as disservice than anything else.
I feel that the two is really like Yin Yang, one cannot exist without the other, and one anchors the other one and one informs the other one. The two have to come together. I mean that’s
why we were built this way.
That’s that’s a really that’s it. really, you know, and you know, what we have to understand balance is not something that static either and so we are constantly losing balance. Now to regain balance is the key. We are learning how to always regain our balance every time we lose it. We also understanding what are that parameters that once we’ve gone past it becomes more of a imbalanced state and harder to reestablish a level of equilibrium. So once we know what those parameters are, our choices become a little bit more serving of where we are and who we are. And so for me, there’s no such thing as balance. It’s all about adapting to the imbalances, and then reclaiming a centre in relationship to the environment that you’re in. And so, when we look at the yin and yang sign, I think that also does a disservice because it’s such a static symbol. In actual fact, it’s moving, it’s changing. It’s constantly, you know, in one moment is more Yang than Yin and, you know, the borders between the two are getting blurred and, you know, there it’s it’s a very dynamic process and as we learn, to be more dynamic, and adaptive, and we learned that you know life is very contingent And then we again, paradoxically somehow or another find more of a centre to ourselves.
I fully fully agree because I’ve been thinking about balance a lot since yesterday as well. And to me, like you said, the way I see it is that even the parameters change all the time. So there’s no such thing as a static thing. And the reason why we kept latching on to the idea that balance is something static is also I think, because a lot of times it’s symbolised with the symbol of a scale that it’s quite like linear and static. And even though there’s movement is not really big, like only small movement. But we need to just slowly probably throw away those little symbols that we create of this idea of balance and everything is really just very fluid. And it’s like you said, how we see it at any different time at any given day, any different state is always different.
That’s right. That’s right. I think sometimes symbols can crystallise our attitudes I know that can be used as motivational tools. But you know, anything has both a positive and negative negative perspective. And if you can see the two together, then you’re saying, you know, something that’s much more wholesome and also you see potentialities. You see both potentials, you know, the disservice, they can create or the service they can create, and then you play the line, play the line well, so when I say you can see it’s opposites. Because every rhythm, every pattern has its opposite.
And we forget about the opposites a lot of times, yes.
Yeah. And the mind has a tendency to gravitate towards you know, you know, when you said before sensorial or we’re very sensual, I think was the word that you use. I mean, sensual always implied something that is nice, something that is sweet, something that feels good, you know. So we have a bias to gravitate towards things that are nice, that are good. And we want to avoid things that are not good. So really just innately genetic encoding we have that, you know, and it’s just like animals don’t want to be around fire. But the difference is now we Yeah, when you know, because there’s a danger inherent danger to that. But now You know, we’ve learned how to harness the power of fire to create a better relationship in terms of quality of life. We but we know the potential destructiveness of fire as well. So we’ve been able to, you know, cultivate a better understanding around fire and this is the same with our body, you know, it’s the same. The certain things that we need to cultivate a really good understanding so we can harness the potential reality of our physicality. But be wary. There’s also the flip side to that as well. Okay. so you always enter the conversation with your physicality with a slight uneasiness. Because things like with fire can go wrong. So you pay respect to it. And you use pay respect to your body in particular ways because it’s no different to anything else. It has its opposite of what you’re doing.
I like that word in a lot of respect, because I feel that yes, we have to respect the evolution of what we’ve gone through, the evolution of our DNA, that gets us to where we are today, but at the same time I mean, use or listen to it with a grain of salt I guess.
Yeah, that’s that’s important. That’s really important.
All right, well, we can go on because I feel that this topic is never ending. Because it’s, it’s the mysteries of life, but I’m gonna end it here. I think that has been a great fulfilling conversation. So thank you very much, Vincent.
I think the coffee kicked in.
Yeah. Great. Great. I’m glad the coffee kicked in. But yeah, I guess this is our last conversation for this season. It’s been a great season, I think. I hope it’s been great season for everybody. Thank you for being with us for the past eight episodes, but we’ll be back with hopefully more exciting content in the next season. I think Vincent have different ideas in mind. So, it’ll be quite exciting, right, Vincent?
Yes, yes. I think what I like to do is is bring guests on board and, and have some discussions around, you know, all manner of topics, I suppose that are out there that also touch on Mind Body practices and so forth. So, yeah, so watch out, we’re going to have a few guests from around the world that we will be interviewing. And so creating this nice little hub of conversation.
Exciting. All right. Well, thank you, everybody, for listening from wherever you are around this world. And see you in the next season. Thank you, Vincent.
Thank you, Meta.
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