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!
You can also listen to Hañsa Conversations on the following platforms:
Ep. 1 – Yoga & Therapy in China
– Hañsa Conversation with Cecilia Li
In this Season 2 premiere of the Hañsa Conversations, we have Cecilia Li (Hañsa therapist, teacher, Manager of Hañsa China, and Director of Hañsa Integrated Movement Centre) as a guest to join the conversation. Cecilia started yoga early when it started to enter china and has seen the growth of it throughout the years. We talked about influences and correlation of Chinese healing practices like Tai Chi and Qi Gong with yoga and the current evolution of Yoga and Therapy in China and the rest of the world.
Read transcript here
Welcome to the Hañsa Conversations where we discuss some ideas behind the Hañsa therapeutic philosophy and other ideas around therapy, movement and yoga practices as they relate to life in general. We welcome you, and we hope you enjoy this conversation.
Hi, everybody. Welcome back. We are now in season two of Hañsa Conversations. This is me Meta from Hañsa Indonesia. And as before, with the founder and director of Hañsa Vincent Bolletta on the other side. But this season, we are doing things slightly differently. We are inviting different people from around the world to become guests into this Hañsa conversation to just enrich the conversation a little bit more. And today I’m just extremely excited to introduce our guest for today. So our guests Today we are keeping it close in the family for this episode. But, yes, so on the other side, in addition to Vincent there’s my dear friend and colleague, Cecilia Li from Hañsa China. Good morning, guys.
Good morning Meta, how you doing?
I’m great. How are you guys?
I’m doing well thank you. I’ve got a cup of coffee in hand, so I’m happy
I’m good too. I’m good, just weekend morning. very relaxing.
I’m cool. So just letting all you guys know I’m gonna introduce Cecilia just a little bit more so. Cecilia is probably one of the pillars in this little team of Hañsa. She started Hansa for a few years already. She is now already co-teaching with Vincent. She also is a director of the Hañsa Integrated movement centre in China. Did I miss miss anything out Cecilia? Do you want to add a little bit more about yourself. Do you want to introduce yourself a little bit more?
If I’m going to introduce myself, I would say I’m a yoga therapist first.
Okay. Sorry I missed that
So that’s basically what I’m doing. Yeah. And also translator Yeah, I translate for several of his trainings as well. So people in China, who knows Hañsa, they know me very well.
Very good. Very good. And Vincent, would you like to add anything in this introduction of who Cecilia is?
Sure, sure. Well, I met Cecilia, probably about five years ago when we were when I was invited to do a teacher training and workshop at a company called e-Yoga. So and this is where I met Cecilia, and I think from there it’s developed into this now, much more deeper conversation around yoga and also how we can illuminate yoga and in terms of Hañsa yoga here in China. So we’ve slowly built on this beautiful infrastructure. But what I would like to know more Cecilia is before you entered Hañsa yoga, where what were you doing? What? What? What was some of the things that you’ve experienced in the yoga? lifetime, if you like that you’ve been in?
Yeah, sure. I started yoga actually very early. And I knew yoga when I was in middle school. But I was just, you know, looking at the television, and there was a person doing yoga, and I feel that’s quite interesting, because it’s different than with any other movements. And then when I really go into a yoga class, it was about 2003. So there was SARS. And obviously, that’s a very uncertain time and I also experiencing certain things in my life. So I did a yoga class in the gym centre and I really feel relaxed after that, and that was a not just a physically released relaxation. It’s more like really body mind relaxation. So I feel, just I’ve never had that feeling before. So I think that’s the when the plant of the seed of the yoga really planted into my mind.
And then I started to do some yoga, but we don’t really have many studios or in yoga classes, you can’t really find a lot even in Beijing. So also now, I was still in the university. So I started doing yoga myself. That was just I bought lots of books and also in which we have DVD. So at that time, and I was watching and practicing, and just by myself, so I really enjoyed those days and it helped me about all all those kinds of anxiety and uncertainty at the time because I was, I’m going to be graduated from school, and I don’t know where’s my future? I’m not sure if I I should go out to continue my study in England in England or I should stay here to look for a job. So at that time I start to, I, the only time that I feel I was just how to say, really experiencing myself, you know, that kind of feeling, that was when I was practicing yoga. So, and then I continued. Finally I stayed in China, I got a job, but I never stopped practicing. I was not really like it’s like on off because I have work to do. But I still I kind of really keep practicing.
At the beginning, I was more it’s more like hatha yoga. But we we didn’t really have a style here. So there was no flow, no ashtanga, no hot yoga and nothing, no Iyeangar. It was just yoga. And then one day there’s just this advertisement with hot yoga stuff, to be really, really popular, and then also like flow, that kind of idea come into our world. And I start to experience all those kinds of practice. I also did some Ashtanga. And so I because I like to experience different things I want to know what’s the difference between those styles. And finally, I found out that I am more like a flow person. So I started to concentrate on flow, and also I start to teach flow. So before I met you, for therapy, then I was just teaching and practicing flow Yoga is more like you know, just the flow with the vinyasa style. And you can create your own sequence. I like that part too. So you can be creative and really do what it, because you will set up a topic or theme and then you can just explore and try to present what you believe or what you want to present. So that was my experience before I met you.
But I always had that kind of a question or conflicts, I see those conflicts of my mind, I see what I keep, my cueing to the students waht I said that they couldn’t really do it, like, keep your pelvis hard, even, in line, in Warrior One, or in the lunge position, or some kind of other cueing that we generally say. So I was I had that kind of a what’s the word? Just feel, It’s not that 100% right. But I don’t know what is wrong there. And I was I was always have those question marks on my mind. And I was thinking if I, what I’m saying to the students that I can’t do it myself because I can’t keep my pelvis even when I’m in Warrior one. So if I can’t do that, how I, why I’m asking my students to do that? And in the Warrior Two position that’s a very difficult position for me. Cuz my, you know, hip abduction is not that good. So not like you can really reach 180% in angle, and how, why we want people to do that.
So I’ve always have those questions on my mind until I met Vincent, Meta, at a workshop and he really pointed out, you can’t actually and then I felt Oh my God, that’s what I need. And that’s what I’ve been looking for. I just, I was, I knew something wrong there but I wasn’t brave enough to point out or really say it, you know. So then I also I experienced myself with my because I had cesarean and had a little girl and because of that I felt I couldn’t really figure out What is Mula Bandha? And this idea is currently very vague to me because it’s just a word. But what’s that mean? What’s that mean behind the words of Mula Bandha, you know, is that because nobody really explained that to me, and I feel that I can’t really control myself. I mean, in terms of the stability of around the pelvis, or really connected to my core. And what is core strengths?
So I try to because I tried very hard when I was practicing, I was almost spending five or six hours per day in the studio, but still I couldn’t figure out why Yes, I was very enthusiastic. And then you know, what, just just a breathe, breathing technique. And I didn’t even know the name at a time. That was entirely in the workshop just to make me feel oh my god really real. I really understand through my body, you know, I really know what’s that mean Mula of Mula Bandha. How to connect to your pelvic floor how to really connect the lower part of the body, especially the lower belly, you know, because I had cesarean there, I tend to negate that part. Then I feel all it’s, it’s more coming internal. And that feeling is really subtle. And just with the breath technique breathing, you just use your breathe out, and then somehow you can feel that part, is like a mys.. It’s like a friend that you never you have lost connection for a long time. And you met that person again on street You know, it’s really exciting. I still remember when I was in, enter the university, I lost contact with my best friend and then we because we didn’t have cell phone at that time. And then one day my mom sent me called me and gave me her phone number so we could call each other and we were crying out in that phone call, you know that feeling?
So it’s really exactly like that. I was so excited. And then I also, if I was thinking if that person can just using a breathing technique and make me feel so connected to my body, oh my god, this person. awesome, amazing. So I have to follow him. So that was really my decision at that time. And it was what I really felt at that time, you know I was really excited. I think I’m sure that Vincent still remember that. I was like, I think my eyes turned really big. Yeah. So that was the story and then I started to become part of the Hañsa yoga, and start to assess and then I also teach Hañsa yoga. That was my story. Long story.
Yeah, I have another it’s more historical, really. In terms of my question. How long has yoga been, you know, up and running in China or commercially orientated in China? How long? because my experience is that, it hasn’t been very long that’s been established in China.
And if I can piggyback on that question a little bit, because it’s sort of related, but I’m also quite curious on what’s the growth of the yoga industry in this short period that Yoga has been in China? I’m quite curious to listen about that as well.
Mm hmm. Yeah. Well, I cos I never done the, you know, like marketing, marketing or research around those numbers. But I my experience, because I think I started not too late. I’m kind of like the first group of first group of people who start to do yoga, or if not the first, at least the second. So I think it starts about 1980s. But that’s not very it wasn’t popular. Only I think only like Beijing, Shanghai. Oh, Some of the big cities may start to have yoga, but not in the small cities. But it become really, really popular in I think about the 2000. Around that time, and especially for 2005, or because we start to have more and more sales. And because of the variety of yoga style and people, it’s like more people can experience or really find out what they like, what suits more about their personality, what they’re interested. So I think it’s an explosion of hands of yoga, recent years, just not many, not long, not because I feel even the teaching is a little bit left behind here for a long time.
So when you say explosion for, it’s in the last five years that the growth of yoga has been quite large?
I think yes, maybe even last eight to 10 years, recent 10 years because also because of the economy of China has been developed really fast. And we have more communication to the other countries now. So people going out and they see what’s happening or what’s popular in other countries. So they bring things back to China too. So yeah, I think maybe recent 10 years.
So what’s popular over there? Are there certain styles that are more popular than the others?
It has been changing. And very interesting. The most interesting part of China market is that different cities has different popular styles. So like, Beijing is more multiple styles and every say every style can exist and they can have a good people following this style. People here, more, what’s the word may be more open they would like to try different the different styles, different classes, different teachers even but some of the cities they may they may have only one style very popular and it’s like the predominant in the market. And people may just goes to those kinds of classes. It’s really depends.
Give us an example.
Um, I think like, cause Beijing we have, this also depends on different studios, like for one studio they may maybe like flow become more popular. I think flow is more popular here because it’s like not really have that strict like, what’s the, how to say like, you don’t need to follow any certain kind of rules or, or principles that you use when you, I mean, not practicing, you know, like, you have to like Ashtanga, you have to get up early to practice, they encourage you to do the Mysore every morning, and they just, you know, have a rest when there’s half moon, a full moon, right. So, but the flow is more like, more casually if you want to do the flow and they also have layers, so more people can join flow, but for some beginners, they still stay with Hatha. And Iyengar is another one that for some of the people, they may, they may have injury before and they may go Iyengar yoga they think that’s more suitable to their capacity of their body or physical state. So it really depends really hard to say. But I noticed that because I’ve been going to Shanghai to do some training in recent years, I noticed that Shanghai has more stronger practices than Beijing, and before I start to do trainings there, I also heard from some other teachers that if we see the practice, you know, if we judge the advance pose, judge the yoga practice from the advanced postures, then Shanghai is more advanced than China than Beijing. They are more, I think more active, and Beijing and I think Beijing people in Beijing, they are also very interested in philosophy and some of the background information of yoga. And meditation is also popular too.
So I have a question leading to that comment. So how, because China is steeped with, you know, very ancient movement practices like Tai Chi and internal arts and Qi Gong and so forth. How does that how does that get in infiltrated into the practice of like yoga that is more, you know, coming from the subcontinent of India and so forth. And how does these two worlds merge? So because you mentioned how, you know, Beijingers are more interested in philosophical relationships to the practice and Shanghai has more commercial based physical practices that are more aligned with possible Western orientations of yoga. How does these two worlds come together? This deep philosophical, you know, very high, you know, historical thinking in Chinese in Chinese philosophy, and then, at the same time, the practice of yoga that now is much more commercialised.
That’s a very good question. Also very hard for me to answer and I because I don’t think I can give a very object, objective..
..point of view. Because I think that one person’s view will be limited by the experience, because I never practiced like Tai Chi or, or Qi Gong already, you know, dive deeper into the background information of those things. And what I start because when I start to really see.. Well, from my perspective, my personal experience that I, I was introduced by to yoga, because it’s becoming commercial. Now Tai Chi never is commercial. Tai Chi is more. It’s not really it’s it’s related or, it’s very close in our life, but it’s not the same time.
Is it because so is it because Is it because it’s too close. It’s too part of the culture and the heritage that. So it’s so embedded in one’s reality. And it doesn’t have to be Qigong or Tai Chi, but just the whole philosophical background and historical relationships.
Yes, I think that’s part of the reason because people tend to be interested into the things that they don’t know, or something new, and they really, you know, have interests. Because we grow up with this kind of environment, we know Tai Chi. And since we were young, and all the old people doing that in the park, and make what make us having a feeling that those are just for the old people, like my mum, she would do that in the, in the park, and she would just do with a teacher.
So there’s two worlds, there’s two worlds in China. Then there’s the old China and the new China really, one that’s still steeped in tradition and still influenced by, by the history of this deep learning and philosophy and then there’s this new chapter, Which is the upcoming commercial, much more in driven towards the progression?
Yes, I quite like your Yes, I quite like this statement because I think because of the development of China, the older generations like my parents and they come from those old days and they still have that pass on cultural and those experience when they were especially when my mom always mentioned when she was young and but me like me and the next generations that we coming from the we born when China has already start to develop the the economy and we start to open the door to the world. And we start to see lots of things. See what’s happening in the world and we have really different attitude with the older generation. And we are now more towards the, like, become world wide, or how to say, it’s more like we want to be the same. We want to have the same standard with other countries too. And no matter it’s like on all aspects, not only economic or cultural, everything that I want to be aligned with the world with other countries. But my parents, they still are, can they like they are they don’t want to, how, like, like children, you know, they pulling and their parents they don’t want to go. They can’t let go of the old style, you know,
I think this is this is I think this is in all cultures. I mean, Meta would you agree as well around that?
Yeah, I think it’s all cultures. But I really want to quickly turn the conversation to you real quick, Vincent, because Cecilia has shared from her point of view, how the culture is. And coming back to the question that you asked how is this philosophies of China that is so embedded in their lifestyles? How do you see that relate to yoga from your perspective? Because you’ve been going to China a lot. You’ve been teaching a lot of people in China, do you see a difference that is influenced by this tradition and philosophy?
I think in behavior I do and in terms you know, in the trainings of watching people move, there is a greater appreciation of fluidity and more important of certain concepts that the practice does take time and it’s and it is relative to attitude to and we’ve spoken about you know how the approach to Hansa is very orientated around one’s psychology and one’s attitude. towards our reality, and I see this more within the students and then at the same time there is there is this fascination, I think around metaphor, as well. And I think metaphor is a lovely way of describing philosophical relationships that very, very hard to sometimes comprehend. But metaphor goes a long way in enable enabling that to kind of link more into one’s the one’s psyche and, and being able to embody that as well. And so, I see I see the merging, I do like the merging of, you know, ancient Chinese thought and then this contemporary model of Mind Body relationships.
And and I don’t see that much of a separation, I see the language slightly different. But in terms of the understanding, I there is definitely a Very deep cohesiveness towards it. And and in terms of the students, I think the students do get it. And because they come with it, and not that they know, but they do come with it. But at the same time, it’s camouflaged a lot also by this new progressive approach that yoga sits in, which is very commercially orientated. And here is, is a question that I have for Cecilia as well is that in my experience this seems to be it’s probably not a very good description of it. But it seems to be this competition between traditional yoga and that it has made also a very good strong foothold in China. And then this westernised commercial model of yoga, which is also very popular and it’s something that a lot of studios align with. And there seems to be this dichotomy between this traditional approach and this kind of more Western commercial approach, and and, and they don’t seem to be able to gel or connect because they talk in two different languages or have two different agendas. Do you see that in your observations?
Yes, yes, I agree. So that’s why I said, it’s like some people they following one cell, they will just continue with this cell. And because it’s really for, I think for beginners, it’s really hard to define which one is good or which one is more suitable, and they feel, what’s the word confused when they you know, are when they are experiencing different styles because they are really different. And like traditional Yoga is more, for some of the people especially, for some young people, they think that’s just too gentle to soft not really enough active, they come to yoga just because they want to lose weight, keep fit, or they don’t want they want to be, like look good or showing people what it’s a kind of a lifestyle.
Because I think because we know yoga from the beginning in China, we know yoga because of the commercialisation of yoga. And we see it from the magazines and the advertisement. And it brings the image of a beginning like women to women do yoga, but men don’t. Or yoga keep your fit, yoga can keep you young, and they still advertising that they still promoting in that way. And then now like famous stars, they start to do yoga and they become really popular. And because they can do a handstand headstand and then they have lots of fans Really, “Oh, that’s awesome. Look at that person and she can do this”, even I like that one star here. I can’t really remember how many like movies or anything that he she acted or you know but I can only remember she was very popular because of she was doing some posture on Weibo so so then it also encouraged people “oh look those stars they’re doing yoga” so yoga become a standard or, what’s the word is like showing a lifestyle that’s more healthy, that’s more rich people doing yoga. And so, all those kind of image or stereotype stereotype for yoga.
So, I think traditional yoga, first some people they come to Yoga. When they first enter yoga, they experienced some traditional yoga they really had really, they really had deep feelings or really good feelings of yoga. How yoga can connect your body and mind is more about psychology, and more about the energy and more internal. And some people they really into that, and they don’t very they’re not very active anyway. So they will, they don’t like to be like doing the strong practice and they will do the traditional yoga and they are experiencing those internal feelings and for but for most people, they will come to yoga because of the advertisement or even just friends around them and they see their friends changing like superficially that will be the entering of yoga for most people. So, yeah, that’s what I see. And those two worlds really can currently like two different groups. They don’t really connect or communicate or, you know, even even not even not even not traditional or commercial. I mean, even most the commercial commercialise the styles,.. If a person if some, some of some people, they following one style and they don’t like to go the other style and they they see each other, not good enough, like, you know,
Yeah, there’s a there’s a level of competition Meta, would you do you see in Indonesia, almost the same rhythm or pattern emerging where there is this commercialisation of yoga in such a way that there is a superficial agenda and orientation that’s directing people’s attention, like as Cecilia has mentioned, you know, health, lifestyle, you know, losing weight and what have you. And she’s also suggested that the value of the practices upon one’s physical skill. Is this true also for Indonesia, or is it slightly different in that community.
I think it’s true everywhere. I think with with the world since the rise of social media, I think it definitely has pushed this sort of shift of how we view yoga to become a certain lifestyle that people try to attain, because most that are posted are challenging poses and people who look good. So I think that really shaped people’s idea on what Yoga is today, which is to try to get fit and then try to be able to do crazy stunts and then to be slim. And I see it the same way here, but I mean, obviously, not all. But generally people want to do yoga because they want to be flexible. They want to be fit, and they just want to exercise it. A lot of people here in Indonesia, still want to do yoga just so that they can get some sweat in so they can exercise. That’s still one of the common reason why people do yoga. But I mean, I also see progression here, just from the people that I know. Everybody starts from the physical aspect of it. I mean is like the the Kosha model of yoga itself. People start from the physical, but eventually, if they do it regularly, then they started really seeing all the different aspects that yoga brings to their life and they started to really reflect on it a lot more and they start realising the effect it has on their mental health and emotional health. And that’s normally their progression, that they journey to understand more of yoga from even just an energetic level and then eventually then move on to more sutbtle practices. So I see that progress as well. But I, I do agree that as beginners people tend to gravitate towards yoga for this lifestyle aspect of it. And I’m guessing it’s the same around the world, I mean, what do you see, Vincent?
Yeah no, I do I,.. What do I see? Brown bear Brown Bear, what do I see? So, but I do agree there is there is this initial, I suppose, based upon certain models of commercialisation and a requirement for studios to survive and teachers to earn a living from this that it is orientated towards these very basic agendas that most people are concerned about that sits on a very superficial level: weight loss, health, so forth. And now, and this really is driven by the commercial model, but as you mentioned, And I think also, as I’ve been observing here in China, that over a period of time, the practitioner will get to a certain phase in their practice, or journey in their practice of yoga, where they want something a little bit more, something that touches them more deeply. It doesn’t sort of, again, initially, there’s a certain satisfaction with the practice. But then, at a certain point, we become dissatisfied because it doesn’t touch us on on a much deeper level. So this is where we start to inquire into more of what the practice is all about. And then we start seeking teachers, we start seeking styles if you like, and that gives more depth more layering, to to the practice itself. And that and this is a global global phenomenon, I think. And one of the things that I think, starts to arise more and more is that people orientate themselves more to the therapeutic nature of the practice. And I think this is where Hañsa in itself stands by itself where we, our initial, and always primary position is how to support people on an individual basis. And doesn’t matter what culture you come from. I think it’s a universal practice. I think it does. It does support us. Yeah, doesn’t matter what journey that we’re on.
Yeah. Vincent, you mentioned that everybody will be like, they will feel at a certain phase of their practice, they will feel that there’s not enough and there will be more behind the practice of physical experience of the practice. And this just also you mentioned is more people tend to grab to the therapy, therapeutic side of aspect of yoga. And this just reminds me of the one comment of our student the other day. Because She has been practicing Ashtanga and she’s still an Ashtangi. And we were sharing our experience of practicing. And because I tried, Iyengar, I tried different styles and the she was the same. But now she come to Ashtanga and she was following a teacher and she said, what she is practicing in Ashtanga, actually, she can really relate it to what she learns from our training, and those subtle experience what you were introducing in the biomechanics of the body, and she can really apply into her practice.
So I see how Hañsa can support all kinds of practice. Because what Hañsa is talking about is the universal principles of the body and your experience of, of your body. I think it’s very fundamental and it can be applied to all kinds of a movement or all kinds of physical practice, because I also taught fundamental training and the to those gym coaches and they did not doing yoga they not even yoga practitioners. But they also notice that how this kind of idea what we are introducing in Hañsa can apply to to his training. And if he feels that his body build muscle building become more efficient, and his movement become efficient and he can, because he was he was preparing for the competition, and he feels that his training becomes so his work out has become more efficient and that’s more functional as well.
So I that’s also the reason I think it’s therapy is not just about like healing or when you have problems is the best therapy is to avoid problems to happen or or try to how to say utilise every aspect of you and then support you in and out and try to negate some of the problems that are unnecessary. So I think that’s the deep root of therapies. In China we say the best the Doctor, Doctor heals before the ills, the illness comes. So it’s a little bit like that. So we add, that’s what yoga does. And that I think that’s the true nature of yoga. It’s therapy. It’s therapeutic. So yeah, I think some people, some of the some people, some practitioners there, they believe that when you have an injury, you have to face what’s happening to your body and then you start to learn how to do the movement, how to use your body, how to communicate with your body, but I think it actually can be applied before the injury comes. I think that’s an idea, a shift of attitude. How do you really use your body? Because if we only have this one body, you can’t change? And how was the attitude? The issue? Should you should we force in our body to do something that then we learn? Is that really the only way or we can learn before we hurt ourselves. So, yeah, this brings me this kind of a Yeah, idea.
How is the interest, I’m sorry, taking, riding on what you said and what Vincent said before. So are people in China now are more interested in more therapeutic practices or even just therapy itself? Is there a rise in this as well, in addition to the rise of commercialisation of yoga as well?
I think lots of people they start to, if they are practicing for a period of time they start to see the therapeutic aspect of yoga The influence how it can really change you in your life, then those people start to more gravitate to therapy. But like like for for some of the other practitioners, they may have injury and they can’t do what they used to do before and then also they try to solve their problems so they will come to therapy. Yeah and some of the other another layer is that people just have some because everybody will have some the here and there you know, discomforts on their body, they try to use different ways because we have like a massage, Chinese massage and the Chinese, like acupuncture, and Moxibustions, like all those kinds of techniques, traditional techniques, and people go to different therapy therapies style to just try to eliviate eliviate the stress of their body, life and work. And those people that when they come to yoga, if they see that yoga can really help them from in and out, they will more continue with this therapeutic practice of yoga. Yeah, that’s what I see.
I think this is really interesting. And I think this is related to your philosophy as well, because not just in traditional Chinese medicine or Chinese philosophy but also in Ayurveda, for example, there’s this ancient philosophy believes in really taking care of your body, maintaining it so that illness doesn’t come. So So these ideas of you coming back to the body and this coming back to the natural natural function of how to maintain the body is essential in maintaining health as an overall idea. So therefore, therapy can be seen as these more of a long term practice. But I feel that I see in a lot of cases here and not just Indonesian, but a lot of people that I encounter as well, they still see therapy as, like a fix. So that’s more of a Western concept of medicine, I think. So if you get headache, you take pills, and it cures you. So, this, this other perspective of seeing therapy as a quick fix is still quite prevalent. It’s quite common in the people that I see. And I’m now wondering whether this difference in perspective, a lot of it contributed as well to cultures to philosophies. Just some thoughts
Can I just want to weigh in on that idea and i and i think you’re, you’re right there is there is this again, you know, attitude that comes with therapeutics, and if you bring the attitude from the commercial model into therapeutics, you are looking for those quick fixes. You are realise you are wanting something that doesn’t allow you to commit to the situation or to the body that you have and what you’re wanting again is something superficial to support your health and longevity, rather than taking that necessary step and commitment for yourself. And I think this is across all cultures. And I think this is this the commercial element of it is to blame here, and also, the excessive amount of choice that we have as well, I think in society could be considered as as an element of blame too where we’re smorgasbording our process where we’re jumping from one style to another style. We’re trying to look for answers in one if we don’t get answers in one we go to another. And so there’s this continuous bouncing around rather than actually sitting still. And, and through that stillness and stability, it will be revealed to you and Time what is required to support yourself.
And but people don’t seem to have the patience anymore because there is that again level of, of expectation that if I go to a therapy teacher or therapy session, give me an exercise to make make this better. And that’s not necessarily the case because it’s in how you do it rather than what you do is the key to to the health and longevity and the restoration of function. So I think the therapy can fall in the same in the same paradigm as what we’ve just been talking about it of commercial yoga or how commercial yoga in some ways orientating people’s attention to superficial agendas. And so therapy can can do that as well. And and what I like is the idea of the integrative model, where it’s not just about the muscles about also the way we approach our body from a from an expectation perspective also the way that we perceive ourselves, our attitudes around some of the things that we are doing some of our opinions and beliefs, this these are all really important components and this requires just a little bit more time to consider and spend time with. So there is this education that needs to happen I think, and and in yoga, and it doesn’t matter which community you sit in. I think the education is essential and to take people deeper.
Yes, yes, I agree. It just reminds me of Chinese medicine or the Chinese massage and acupuncture because we went to those and very frequently, most people when they are when they start to have those body issues, they turn to find the Chinese medicine doctor, and they may do some acupuncture as well and massage and what we are well cause before before I really start to follow Vincent and start to learn Hañsa I never, I also never had this kind of idea on my mind. I just believe that when I go to a massage and I got relaxed after afterwards, and when I have some problem I will take Chinese medicine and its long term you have the Chinese medicine for a while, but I never really related all those aspects or those things that I want to heal myself or to, to my life what I need to do what I need to take the responsibility that I need to take. And I think most people also experiencing the same because we believe that something else and the person the doctor, or the massager that they can heal us and we don’t need to do anything which is land on a massage bed and then you healed.
But my mom used to go to the massage very often, but her lower back never really healed. And she, she’s, she doesn’t want to, what’s the word doesn’t want to really consider why she is having that. I think people try to avoid to see what they’re doing not so good. They don’t want to accept that they need to, they need to improve or really start to consider and really face the problem. And then people try to avoid the problems and they try to let others to take responsibilities. That’s part of the maybe human nature. So it’s very important to let people understand they need to take responsibility even you want to lose weight, you need to really watch your diet, you really need to do some exercise. You know, you really need to consider what you eat, what you do. All those things. You can’t rely rely on your coach to train you and then somehow you become Another person. So I think this kind of message needs to be needs to be passed to everybody. And once people start to really take responsibility to support themselves, things can be much easier. The therapy can be much quicker. And I can see that from my clients too.
Absolutely agree. All right. I think that’s as been great conversation. We’re coming to wrapping this conversation up. Vincent, do you have any last few words to say or ask? Cecilia too?
No, I just like to say thank you very much Cecilia for coming onto the podcast. I know. It was a very quick decision that was made for you to be on here. So you did very well, so thank you very much.
You’re welcome. And to those people who are listening, I would like to, if you’re not in China, I would like to invite you to China. I really want people to come to China really experience what’s happening here. I don’t want people to just know from the newspaper or internet, I want you to come to China really live here for a while to see China and it’s lots things happening. Lots things changing. But China’s still very good place to be and even just experience it in your life.
Thank you, Cecilia
It’s so lovely to have you in this conversation. So yeah, it is.
Thank you, Meta.
I think after a while Vincent and I, we just get tired of each other voices, I think. Right, Vincent?
That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.
But yes, please, people visit China. I’ve been there. It’s beautiful. And I just cannot wait till we all can travel again. Yeah. I cannot wait. Well, thank you, Vincent, very much. Thank you, Cecilia, very much.
Thank you, Meta. Thank you Vincent for inviting me here. And I’d really love to join this kind of conversation and really want to introduce China to more people out there. So thank you, Meta for organising this. Thank you so much.
Cool. Thanks, everybody again for listening from wherever you are. We’ll be back with more exciting conversations different guests in this second season of the Hañsa conversation.
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 Conversations and thank you for listening.
Ep. 2 – Hands-on Assist
There are more reluctance from both yoga teacher and students in giving or receiving hands-on assistance. In this episode we talk about hands-on assist in the practice of yoga, the effect on touch on human, the use of touch as a tool for communication and how to approach hands-on assistance in this pandemic/ post-pandemic era.
Read transcript here
Welcome to the Hañsa Conversations where we discuss some ideas behind the Hañsa therapeutic philosophy, and other ideas around therapy, movement and yoga practices as they relate to life in general. We welcome you, and we hope you enjoy this conversation.
Hello, everybody. Welcome back. This is the Hañsa Conversations, a podcast, and I am Meta from Hañsa Indonesia. And today, I’m joined by the founder and director of Hañsa, Vincent Bolletta. Hello, Vincent.
Hey, Meta. How you doing?
Hi, I’m great. How are you?
Good. Good. I’m doing well. Nice afternoon.
That’s good. Yeah, it’s quite a nice weather here too.
So nice lazy Sundays.
Not so lazy, but yes, Sunday is always good.
Sunday is normally a day for cleaning the house for me.
Very good. Now what are we talking about today?
I think we let’s talk about hands-on assistance. I feel that it’s a topic that has become quite heated up in the last few years, obviously, because there are cases that that the people saw a certain teacher misuse it. And I just want to have a discussion around that. I mean, do you use hands-on assistant, Vincent, in all these years of yoga and what is your view on hands-on assistance?
Sure, sure. Well, I suppose you have to take it right back to when I first began yoga and at that time, hands-on assistance was part of the practice. And also it was a you know, something of an important technique to learn when you started Yoga, how to hands-on assist how to manipulate the students bodies in the safest possible way and to the position that you’re encouraged him to go, or aspiring to, and hands-on assist was sort of a, if you like, a turbocharged way of getting people there quicker. Do I use hands-on assist now? Yes, I still do use hands-on assist. I think, I think it’s still a very, very valuable tool to have. But these days I’m a little bit more discerning about hands on assisting, because there’s a number of variables when I first began weren’t discussed. And now you know, with greater information and knowledge around many different topics about people’s physiology, people’s emotionality and obviously sort of narratives that exist, sometimes unconsciously within the practitioner and unknowingly within the teacher, hands-on assist now has become a little bit more, more of an interesting topic, I suppose, is the way to go. And but I still think it’s a useful, useful technique or approach. But there has to be a little bit more skill and intelligence why you want to, why you want to be using hands on.
Do you see a difference between how the students’ receptivity to hands-on assist throughout the years, is it changing? I am asking because I wonder if now there is more apprehension towards hands-on assist compared to back then.
Yeah, I think there is I think there’s and rightly so. I mean, there’s certain circumstances now that dictating know people’s apprehensions and one is obviously the Coronavirus that which is quite an immediate you know and obvious situation that dictates whether we touch people now or not and it’s and and the reasons why I think are important. But then again, you know, students have more knowledge now students also have a greater understanding of if you like, what is the practice of yoga, I think it’s more of a supportive practice and students are wanting to feel more supported in days gone by it was goal oriented practice and not to say that these things have changed. I think there’s still still these particular agendas within certain styles that achievement of certain Asana or posture is an important component to them. And hands-on assisting is something that enables them to get there quicker. So they’ve put more value on these situations. But I think as I said, you know, there’s just more information. And that information is based upon the functionality what is appropriate, what isn’t appropriate for the human body? And I think more importantly, why are we doing yoga now and those those reasons have changed quite a lot as well.
And this just makes me think of it. Just coming back to the basics of how much hands-on assist helps us as practitioner. I obviously have received it and like really thankful sometimes with certain hands-on assist. But now I’m thinking about it. When we are giving certain adjustment to a person are we then making that person coming into maybe a position that is beyond their capability? Because I mean, normally hands-on assist is given to put somebody deeper into a certain position then are we actually imposing something that the body’s not ready or is it helpful not? I’m just wondering about that.
Yeah, well, look, I think hands on assisting is is, like everything that we’ve discussed so far is multi-layered. You know, hands-on assists can develop greater kinesthetic awareness for the student. Hands-on assist can also develop greater sensitivities for the student and the orientation of their habituations can be more illuminated as well through hands-on assisting. And sometimes a light touch is just as effective as you know, or even sometimes I would say more effective than force for repositioning of one’s limbs or one’s body because ultimately, what you’re looking at as a teacher, are there certain limitations structurally that is going to inhibit the individual getting to the shape that you want them to be in? And you know, is that shape important to that person? And if it is, why so? So these are some of the questions I would have that I would put on myself. And then at the same time, can we get that person to that place with minimal effort? Can Can we generate the, I suppose, the new position can we develop a new orientation of their body through a gradual process where it’s coming from them rather than from an external source? And that maybe put them in a shape? Yeah, you know, you get them in the shape and you know, and they struggle holding that shape or whatever it might be. But then once you remove your hands or once you remove your influence they returned back to where they were before. To me then that indicates that A: they’re not ready physiologically. B: there might be other factors that are there that are limiting their ability to achieve that position. And then if the person can’t achieve them themselves, why would you want to force them into the shape?
At the end of the day, you know, the practice is one way you’re developing a level of understanding how to support your structure in a safe and a supportive way. The, and also building I think, the necessary physiological ability, and muscular relationships and also coordination, that you eventually will get there in your own time. And so forcing somebody into a situation I think, doesn’t take those factors into consideration. I think it actually bypasses them, and I think it creates a, it creates conflict because there’s two ways from this, you know, once you’ve established, okay, this is the shape shape you should be, i’ll put you in that shape, the student can’t hold that shape by themselves and they come out of it, what are they going to do next? they’re going to try harder next time to get into that position. So it adds more effort and conflict and, and it puts a particular I think blueprint on their on their attitude of, or it places a certain degree of value more on the shape that they can get to rather than where they are now. And where they are now needs to be defined more specifically for the student and more and where they are now needs to be more put more valued on as well. And so it’s easy to create these agitations unnecessary agitations because you’re dealing with a variety of expectation. One is the teachers’ expectations, one students’ expectations and sometimes, you know we can compound these expectations and we can essentially also create more discomfort because if you can’t achieve what is expected of you and then there’s a sense of failure to it, there is a sense of need to try harder, not good enough. I need to practice more. So there’s a lot of offshoots of agitation that comes from sometimes these particular hands-on relationships and and it doesn’t also speak about certain other emotional conditions. That I think are important to consider. Because, you know, we bring all of ourselves into our into our practice both our physical body, energetic and emotional and any trauma that has been, you know, felt through one’s life.
Yeah, I feel that it’s, it’s, well hands-on or touch in itself is such an important learning tool for learning communication better between the teacher and the student, especially for teacher I think. And I feel that I mean, learning how to test someone is a skill that doesn’t just come easily for a lot of people. You have to go through a process to see reaction of a person to know to have more sensitivity around your hands and how to check somebody because I definitely learned from my mistakes I’ve been I feel that in the past I’ve approached somebody mid posture and maybe that person already like deep into her or his practice and then just a simple touch would startle that person then that so I learned through that process of learning to read and like knowing when it’s okay not even to touch any part that is sensitive, but even to just place a hand on somebody, and I feel that it then it becomes part of my, my, my tool to, to use hands as an extension of, I guess what I’m trying to say or convey that words cannot reach you.
Yeah, that’s right. Words words have a certain limitation. And I agree with that. And and touch expresses, you know one’s intentions more more clearly sometimes. And also touch is is a wonderful way of connecting to certain aspects of ourselves. And that words will never, ever reach. I think I still believe touch is a really important component to the practice. I do though think that we have to build a particular framework that allows touch to eventually develop. There has to be a level of trust. that emerges between the teacher and student. There has to be a level of transparency I think also. And I think communication around why you want to be touching or why would hands-on be effective for this individual and that needs to be discussed. And then if if touch is not, you know, wanted by the practitioner, that’s okay too, you know, that enables us to become more creative in then expressing what we need to express in different ways.
But I still think touch is something that enables us to learn about ourselves really well. Children learn through touch. They learn through the game, you know, it’s a non verbal communication touch, and they pick up a lot a lot of signals through touch. They also pick up a lot of signals through body language. The touch, touch helps one regulate our emotions, especially in children’s emotions. We learned to be able to receive and give through touch. And these are really essential ingredients within a yoga practice. And also touch enables us to regulate our attitudes around certain difficulties. And so I still think this is a valuable tool within the teachers toolkit to learn how to touch, learn how to use touch, but also learn when not to use touch.
And then there’s this other other question that arises in my mind is that, you know, we we’re thinking where the student is in the position that they’re holding, say in the yoga pose, is somehow less of value, then the position that we want them to aspire to. And there’s there’s a difficulty there, because it doesn’t enable them to connect to the present moment of who they are and where they are and what is enabled them to get to that place, and some of the choices also that have come with it. So you have to be careful that you don’t devalue the situation or the position that they’re in now. And it’s, and if we can can change the language to you know, rather than “Hey, you need to go deeper in your forward bend” or whatever it may be. Can the language be now about creating more sensitivity and intimacy to the body? Can it be about more coordination, you know, neuromuscular coordination can it can it be better interoceptive relationships and sense that touch can establish, I think, and also can improve one’s you know, body interpretation as well because we all have these, you know, mental kinesthetic gaps and sometimes touch is a really nice way of enabling us to map our body cleverly and with greater you know wholesomeness I suppose.
So there is there, and you’re right, you know, you learn through mistakes. And sometimes, sometimes I think that somehow, you know, being a yoga teacher or you know, starting to practice yoga, that you can’t make mistakes now. It’s still a very dynamic relationship, and especially a dynamic relationship you’re having with yourself and, and you’re gonna make mistakes in the way you communicate with people, whether that be through touch or through language, or through themes or through way you cue, cue yourself or cue people. There’s always going to be some some level of somehow it doesn’t fit, the person that’s listening or being touched and you realise that maybe I needed to build a better dialogue or connection to the dialogue that I was trying to create. And so I think it’s important to make mistakes I think it’s fundamental to, to a teacher’s growth. And as long as you can humble yourself to that, and then it’s easy then if you do make a mistake is to, you know, own up to it and say, Hey, man, I made a mistake. I’m so sorry. I will learn more now about what what it’s all about and how I can be more service to you or be more efficient in the way that I use myself, you know, that is more in line or it resonates with the person that’s in front of you. So there’s this. Yeah, I think there’s a lot of learning and a lot of learning comes with a lot of mistakes. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my yoga journey. So many that I lost count.
Well, I hope you’ve learned from them.
Well, you you can try and sometimes it takes a while. You may have to make the same mistake several times before you go, “Ah, yeah, that’s really silly”. I now know more than ever before, from a deeper perspective, because the mistakes that you make have to touch you on an emotional level for you to really create the transformation that you want. You know, there has to be it has to be embodied, you know, deeply within your own self before you can recorrect that mistake, you know, so there is there’s a lot of sort of reflection, I suppose, or introspection around the the practice of yoga but more the teaching of the yoga as well.
Related to this whole process of learning and I feel that we are constantly made to learn something new, coming into yoga, now teaching yoga in this world, still within this pandemic, or going forward post pandemic, with this social distancing that we have to apply to people and how people become more wary of touch, right? I found that like, I mean, this is from your training, what I learned is that is really good to get somebody to even use their own hands to assist themselves because a lot of people, even our own hands can be feel quite foreign for people who are not used to, using hands to, to, I don’t know, direct and point and feel sensations. So I think that guiding students in using their own hands and guiding them on like how to feel pressure and application might help too in the process of teaching yoga here, with this new social-distance rule.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I totally agree with that. I think. I think you know, I teach that as well as you know, you know, using one’s own hands to sort of kind of become more connected to your body and but it was somewhat intimate with your body as well, in terms of, sometimes you know, for whatever reason, you know, we don’t want to touch ourselves and, and, and that’s an important ingredient because we have to take ownership of our physicality. We have to, and and it’s a great way of learning, you know, and, you know, there is there is many different barriers, one, as you just mentioned, you know, it’s circumstantial, obviously, that there is a greater now, weariness I suppose to be close to people. And hopefully that will soon pass. Hopefully this doesn’t become the norm because it’d be sad if it does. Because, you know, touch either on yourself or touching somebody else creates a level of community, it creates a much more of a understanding of what it is to be human and all the layers that come with that. And that, you know, our relationship to ourselves is very much also important to the way that we relate to other people. And so if we creating these social distancing relationships, then what are we doing to ourselves as well, on a psychological attitudinal level? I think these these are questions that obviously there’s no answers to and we can only wait and see and see what eventuates from from the current circumstance.
But you know, there’s other obstacles as well, you know, there is obviously, certain social taboos as well in some societies, you know, don’t advocate touch. There is either religious reasons or, you know, just cultural reasons. And so you have to respect that you have to respect that in quite an, and it’s an important component to the teaching of yoga, because it has to be relatable to everybody. And so if the situation cannot change for whatever reason, then it just makes us more, as I said before, it forces us to be more creative, or at least, it forces us to make the connection that we were wanting to, for us to have and the person that’s in front of us to have more relative to where they’re coming from. And you know, I’ve used that in I’ve used many different, I’ve tried to use many different ways of communicating the information that relates to the person’s religion, culture, or the general learning and understanding.
So and and and I think in general, it works well because it enables you to then to adapt. And we’ve spoken about how adaptations is a key component to be able to teach and share information. Because not everybody’s on the same level as you and that was it goes into touch. Not everybody’s on the same level of sensitivity or heightened sensitivity through your hands and to be able to you know, touch people or you know, make suggestions through touch. So I think with with what you pointed out in terms of social distancing and Coronavirus, I think it may add to the disconnect. It may. It may not I don’t I don’t know yet. Interesting to see what happens. But I think, you know, as human beings, we will generally gravitate, we will gravitate back to each other again. You know, I think I think social interactions is something that’s important for our for our psychology, and I think it regulates it. And otherwise, you know, you may see a rise in neurosis neurosis and psychosis.
I totally agree with you. I feel that one thing that I missed the most from these last two months is just human touch, like just simple, even just shaking hand not even hugging. I feel that. Oh my god, wouldn’t it be nice to actually be able to connect physically with another person? I think that’s so important. But yeah, hopefully, I really hope that this doesn’t become a norm for a long time like this just a short period of time and we go back to hopefully, learning how to connect with touch again with other people.
Well I’m, I’m a I’m an optimist. So, I think I think it will you know, return back obviously there’d be you know, there would be certain, maybe it may help us be more understanding of how influential touch can be both in terms of positive and negative so this this may be a situation that helps us regulate it better. But then again, it may not too.
so. So now that there’s this extra added hurdle, I’m going to use the word ‘hurdle’, when it comes to connecting through touch, and some people might, even teachers now might be wary on using hands-on assistance. So we lose the opportunity to practice using our hands to help others. What can teachers do to, well, I guess first and foremost understand the, I guess the power of touch in terms of helping somebody or learning how to build sensitivity through through hands or the palms and sending intention. What Can somebody do at the moment to practice that?
Oh, look, I think the touch is all about pressure, isn’t it really? And there’s different levels of pressure that you can apply through your hands and and they resonate in a slightly different way in terms from your neurological system and how they impact on your perception. And so, I have heard in the past before that certain touch will stimulate certain layers of your physicality, or even it’s so far down into your cellular system, depending on the pressure that you’re applying. And so if you take it from the perspective of your nerve endings at your skin and there are different nerve or nerves that are stimulated through different levels of pressure. So that that gives you a different appreciation of your clothes on your skin or if there is a stronger pressure where you are in relationship to the object that you’re being pressed against you. So it does it does stimulate certain kinesthetic relationships, especially spatial awareness.
So to play with the different pressures that you can apply through touch, I think it’s one way of developing better sensitivity and heightening one’s understanding of the impact of that touch as well. And you can do this on yourself. Also, when you think about touch, so there’s different layers of pressure through touch, there’s also you can think about it from the perspective through voice, there’s different ways that you can utilise the pitch or tone of your voice. And each pitch will stimulate the nervous system with a person in different ways. You know, if I if I yell at you, there’ll be a particular response. If I talk softly to you, there’ll be a particular response. And so, so touch is not like voice, like sound. It creates certain vibration or electrical currency. voice can do the same I think. So if you aren’t able to touch you can also start to learn how to regulate your voice and communicating certain subtleties. Or when you’re wanting people to become more subtle, the you can modulate your voice in particular ways that orientates attention. And also energetically organises the person in front of you slightly differently.
So modulation of touch is a really important, I think. Learning the different tones to the touch, like learning the different tones to the voice is really important because then it enables you to have again, more variety to your touch. And that variety I think, will support different levels of learning that people come to you with, and also levels, different levels of sensitivity. You know, that people come to you with and potentially the different levels of you know, all the different obstacles that are presented to you from an emotional perspective that come to you and when you’re teaching. So I think the regulation of pressure is really something good to learn.
I really like how you compare that to sound to different pitches to regulation of voice. And I wonder if now in this day and age with this wariness around hands-on assistance, whether the verbal part of assistance is even more important, so. So with the touch, there’s always clear communications. Like you said, in the beginning of this conversation, how we have to be very clear, with the intention of why are we using hands-on assistance, but even now, more than ever, I wonder if the verbal part might have to be included with every hands-on assistance for a while until that trust is built, until that, there’s sort of that understanding of why we’re using hands on assistance. Because I feel that when it’s just touch, intention, for somebody who’s sensitive, they can really feel intention right away. And just because it’s is not verbally heard, it can be mis-represented in a different way, whether because of past histories or whatever that is.
Yeah, look, I think, I think, you know, building that level of trust or building a relationship that is mutually respectful, I think is really important. Because, you know, this journey is is a shared journey between teacher and student and, and in many respects, as we’ve mentioned in the past, before, you know, we’d have to take ownership of our choices and we have to take ownership, ownership of also our goals and desires, whatever that may be. And so a lot of it is the clear communication is also establishing clear guidelines that the student is responsible for themselves. And that you’re giving them the permission to make that call, or you’re giving them the opportunity to vocalise what they need and want at the same time, what they don’t like. By doing that then and the other respect, you also have to create a relationship, that it’s not just one way and there has to be a shared responsibility.
You have certain information that you’re wanting to impart that you think will be useful, that is supportive and the only reason why you think it may be supportive and useful is because of your practice and your knowledge of it, and your experience as well. And then what you do is is you, you make suggestions along the way you encourage a dialogue. And this is both verbal and through touch. And so this dialogue is important. So, and I think it’s a great idea that when you’re touching somebody is to also talk to them about it. And so there is, you know, that that, I think anchors the situation initially both for the teacher and student. And if the touch is conflicting with what you’re saying, then that’s very telling, very, very telling. Because what you’re saying and also what you’re doing with your hands have to be in resonance with each other. And in some respect, as a teacher, as you’re talking your students through it, you’re reminding yourself what the touch needs to be. Because you start to embody those words. Yeah. If not, then then there’s a certain degree of hypocrisy there as well. So, so I think I think it’s a great idea Meta, talking and touching at the same time.
And I think, as I know that a lot of, I feel that whenever a teacher comes to class, a lot of responsibilities are on the teachers. But as students, I think, just want to remind that if any student in the class also have the responsibility upon their own body, and it goes both ways that dialogue can come as well from the students. And that person that’s receiving hands-on assistance.
Look, I I read a quote on that reputable social media site Facebook. I can’t remember. Yeah, I can’t remember who it was. But it was quite a renowned teacher. He lives in the states used to be one of the students Krishnamacharya. And he read a quote from one of the Patanjali sutras, I could be wrong. I can’t remember exactly. No I don’t think it was. So don’t please don’t quote me on that. But he said, “the only thing between student and teacher is the sharing of knowledge.” And that’s it. And I really like that quote, I really like it because it defines the relationship immediately. I have some information, you know, that I think will be useful, and that’s, you know, and I’m going to use certain tools to impart that information. There is nothing more there is nothing less. And that’s it. And for me, that really defines how a teacher should be approaching the whole process of the practice with their students.
Because it can get very convoluted and it can become a rabbit hole, when there is certain aspects to it where our narratives start to dictate these conversations and when I say narrative, sometimes we don’t know we’re in them. There’s this level of transference of subconscious narratives onto our students or the students onto the teacher. I think it works both way. That’s why the when I say student needs to take responsibility, because it’s easily it’s easy to shift certain subconscious narratives on to your teacher, whatever they may be. And within those narratives, comes expectations. And so it’s a fine line to walk, you know, and that’s why I say making mistakes is an important relationship as long as you’re, you’re humble and and you’re earnest and there is a level of commitment to making a better world you know and if you’re devious and what have you then you know we it’s easy to manipulate relationships and positions which I don’t advocate. So there’s a, When we’re having a a respectful dialogues, there’s a purity to that there’s an honesty to that and I think this is essential.
But yeah, I feel that when when it comes to approach related to hands on assistance, I quite well, I guess first I come from yoga education background where first I always were taught I was taught to use verbal assistance first, verbal instruction, how to help the student to access whatever they need to access and then only then if they don’t understand it, just to contrast it, then come in using the touch. So then the touch is obviously quite intentional, and probably considered quite minimal, which, which I think that’s how you use your touch. So quite simple, really the way you use hands on assistance to help somebody. And I think that’s that’s quite important to keep in mind as well, because I know that there are people who believe quite an extra amount of effort in using physical hands on assistance to help somebody come into certain or access certain poses or a certain ability. And I feel that it doesn’t have to be that much. Because, like, we’ve talked about so many episodes, I think, well, keeping it quite simple is actually quite profound on how you can assist somebody with just a simple touch.
Yeah. Look, there’s there’s a couple of things I want to say around that. Sometimes students don’t have the same degree of sensitivity to the touch that you’re applying. So there’s there’s this sort of kind of no man’s land that ends up appearing, and they sit in it, they don’t really understand what you’re doing, especially if the touch is too subtle, right? And so you have to then cultivate their level of sensitivity for those students. And that takes time. You know, and that takes with with getting the students to appreciate more from a physical perspective, you know, their movements and encouraging greater sensitivity to the movements. It’s almost like asking people to slow down, you know, when they’re eating so they can taste more. So the movement is the same as slow your movement down and you can be more present to the sensations that are arising. And you’re really what you’re doing is orientating their attention to more the subtle stimulus or sensations that are arising, they sometimes camouflage or you know, there’s too much noise from the gross actions of our body. And sometimes we also have students that come from, you know, modalities that use strong touch. And there have been some basically been taught to really put more value on strong touch and not light touch. So their whole focus, or what they gravitate their attention to is the strong stimulus. So anything that’s less than that there’s no value to them.
So you have to then develop that level of intelligence and education that touch is multi-layered. There’s many pressures to touch and each of those features have certain consequences. And sometimes it’s just about reorientating the student’s level of attention. And that takes a bit of time. And you know, if you get into that position where there is conflict between your touch and the student, where then is like, you know, I’ve had this the past before “I really don’t feel anything”. That’s okay too because it’s not the right time, there isn’t the right circumstances, maybe we need to maybe have waited. We needed to develop a greater understanding of what the practice that I’ve been encouraging students to do, to take hold to slowly develop and re orientate and recalibrate both their attention their value system around their body and also around what sensations need to also be considered and not negated.
And the other thing is, is that you mentioned about you know, you came from a background of first, you know, walking people through language to where they need to be and then you know, slowly introducing, touch if there was some level of misunderstanding I came from, you know, the traditional practice, if you want to call it that, when yoga first came out, and the touch was quite forceful. It was very manipulating the, of the physical structure. And I and I’ve learned through, you know, making mistakes through basically injuring people, which is sad to say, from my perspective. But, you know, I know now better through those mistakes, the potential harm that touch can do. Now that was on a physical level, but we haven’t even touched upon the emotional or psychological level that some of these, some of these practices can create in terms of discomfort and agitation. And so, but I didn’t know any better I was, you know, I was a young student and teacher or wanting and so I emulated my teachers and who were adjusting people in ways that I think, you know, now looking back weren’t really supportive of the individuals, not at all, you know, they were just imposing a particular belief system or value system on to them. And, and that, and that was, you know, now looking back, that wasn’t yoga, you know, there was just some disciplinary and indoctrination of what the body needed to be, which was, which was another, you know, another form of discipline, you know, and yoga is supposed to mean freedom in some respects. But, yeah, as I say, we learned through our mistakes.
I when you were talking just now I remember what I wanted to discuss earlier is that you mentioned earlier that, in in this teacher-student relationship, sometimes unconsciously, there’s transference that happen and a lot of them can be triggered through touch, I think. Yes. So in both position, like, I guess let’s start talking by teacher first, if we suddenly realised that, that that is happening, what can we do to, I don’t know, what’s the word but, do we create boundary again? And
yeah, I I’ve tried to create boundaries for myself. And I usually ask a couple of questions. Before I do move towards communicating that I want to put hands on. And first question that I put to myself, you know, can I get this person to become more connected to whatever part of the body that I’m wanting them to connect to, In a way that I don’t need to touch? And then is my language appropriate and to enable them to in time, understand this part of the body? Am I giving them enough space for them to figure it out for themselves? Because I rather them figuring out for themselves, you know, and then if I can give that that level of space, and then then I don’t need to touch, you know, so, and in most cases, you don’t really need to touch, I think.
But I think also too, it’s somewhere along the line, because of our subjectivity, touch can clarify more specifically, some of sometimes we just don’t know, some of the confusions that we may have in our bodies, you know. And so I give this enough space and and that space enables them to explore their exploration, will build into a conversation of trust, that will build into a conversation that eventually that touch may be used at some stage or another which is will be spoken about. I think it just takes time, you know, to build the platform for the full scope of one’s tools to be utilised. And I, and we’re just in a rush sometimes, you know.
Now, in saying that if people come to me for rehabilitative purposes, I make it well known to them that touch is utilised because it’s a rehabilitation process, and I need to encourage specifically the area that’s inflamed or it’s in pain. I know touch is really useful to recalibrate both the neuro muscular system, but also start to release some of the bracing and compensatory reactions that happen. So there is there’s already a framework that set up. It’s rehabilitative that touch is used. You know, it’s part of it’s part of the rehabilitative process. It’s part of the session. In the yoga class, it’s slightly different. The agendas are slightly different. The reasons why people are there is slightly different. So touching maybe needs to take a little bit longer to get to. But when it comes to because part of the body work, part of the work that I do in rehabilitation is bodywork. So it’s already an unwritten contract. This is what it’s going to be. But in saying that as well, there’s communication around it, and you know, there is specific relationships that we build within that session. Why would I want to touch this area or what have you and the reasons behind it? So it depends on, on on the circumstance. And so with the class scenario, the transient situation people come and go, you don’t know who they are really. So you just have to treat it a bit more carefully and give yourself some space.
Yeah, very important. I’m going to wrap this conversation up, conversation up, but I am agreeing with you with what you said before that touch is such a powerful tool of communication. And I like and sometimes it is just necessary and even in my own practice, sometimes like my body responds differently when I give assistance to myself or just rehab myself, which is important and I don’t think it I think it just should be a part of this practice called yoga.
Yes, I would agree with that statement as well. And I do have I’m not sure if I’m able to articulate this well today but I do have this thought and because you you, you can’t apply a technique like touch for example in the moment that is presented to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s no longer useful to you or it shouldn’t be negated. It may be useful in a different moment and time with that person, depending upon the relationship that’s been established. And sometimes, you know, and we can society move energetically to negate certain certain things that I think are fundamental and functional to us for evolutionary and psycho and emotional and psychological development. And touch is one of them. It’s just have to learn how to use it well. We have to learn to use it in ways that fits the situation. And, you know, I read somewhere about you know, you know, touch can can heal and touch can hurt. It’s a it’s a, it’s it’s like fire, you know, fire can burn your house down but fire can cook a really nice meal or heat in a generates is generated by fire can cook a really nice meal and same with touch, learn how to use it, learn how to use it well because if you’re able to regulate it, you know the pitfalls, you know the dangers of touch, but you also know the benefits of touch. You’ll be able to utilise in a ways that actually will benefit people, but you got to learn how to use it. It’s a tool and like any tool, you know, like a hammer or a saw or what have you. You know, you know you got to learn how to use it first before you go and try and build a house or cut a piece of wood. wood or whatever it is that you get to do. So I think these are really important things to understand.
Yeah. And it takes practice like any other tool.
Great. Thank you, Vincent. I think this has been a great conversation. And hopefully, hopefully we can go back to not being too social distant.
As long as you wear your mask and rubber gloves, you’re fine.
There you go. That might be the future of one-on-one therapy, you know that.
I don’t, I don’t think so. Everything will pass as it always does.
Okay. All right. Thank you, Vincent.
You’re welcome. Thank you Meta. Thank you for our listeners.
Have an awesome Sunday.
Yes, thank you everybody who’s listening. We’ll see you again in the next episode.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations – a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. 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 Conversations and thank you for listening.
Ep. 3 – Space & Flow
– Hañsa Conversation with Raphan Kebe
In this episode we talked to Raphan Kebe, an international somatic movement teacher and the creator of Space and Flow, a movement-based yoga practice. Raphan shared the idea behind Space and Flow and the principles behind it. We also talked about the ideas of freedom and limitations and some of the ways that we can work with them.
Read transcript here
Welcome to the Hañsa Conversations where we discuss some ideas behind the Hañsa therapeutic philosophy, and other ideas around therapy, movement and yoga practices as they relate to life in general. We welcome you, and we hope you enjoy this conversation.
Hello everybody. Welcome back to Hañsa Conversations with me Meta from Hañsa Indonesia. And this time I have two gentlemen with me. One of them you already know, he’s Vincent Bolletta, founder and director of Hañsa and another Our guest today is a Raphan Kebe, an international somatic movement teacher and trainer. He’s also the creator of Space and Flow, which is a movement based yoga practice that promotes healthy spine, joints and muscular strength as well as body mind awareness. So hello, gentlemen, how are you today?
Hey Meta, I’m doing well. Thank you.
Yeah, I’m good to Thanks, Meta. I’m just Excuse me. It’s a rainy day, thundery day in Beijing so if you hear these cracks in the background is because there’s some, some thunder and lightning happening.
Where are you today, Raphan?
I’m in London, Sunny London, which is she’s not something one says often.
Yes, yes. That’s beautiful. I hope you get to enjoy the day after this. I’m here in Bandung. The weather is I guess all right, it was sunny. But I’m expecting rain tonight.
Isn’t it pretty cool? I mean, here we province in England. I’m in China and you’re in Indonesia. I mean that hey, hey, can’t get any better can it? It’s true.
So Vincent maybe you can start introducing everybody about who Raphan is
Sure sure, I I met Raphan online, really. I was impressed and inspired by one of your videos that you put online Raphan and and and that I reached out to you wanting you to come down to New Zealand and do a teacher training because of what I saw it was poetry and motion in terms of your practice and and the artistic I suppose putting together of that video too was really something I I personally resonated with. I just liked you to introduce yourself a little bit more on and how you got into yoga, where you are now with it, and just just general background so our listeners have a better, a better idea really of who you are.
Hmm, no thank you for that. And yeah, I do remember you contacted me, that was a few years back quite a couple of years back. So um, yeah, Hello everyone. Yeah I’m Raphan originally from. I was born in Paris, and I grew up in Paris as well. In France. And I left when I was 19. To come here in London to, to the UK, so it’s been 22 years that I’m now based here. And you asked me to be introduced to introduce myself in terms of the work. Well, my yoga practice really started, consistent practice started something like 15 years ago, for back pain. I was a musician and bass player, bass guitarist. And off with all my music degree, my back just gave up and anytime I play and been a lot of pain, and so I had to basically stop playing for a year to put my studies on hold. It was a rough year, and to say the least, and I discovered through working with a chiropractor, I discovered pilates and through doing quite a bit of pilates I got on to doing and taking classes in yoga.
And since I was doing a lot more yoga than anything else at that time, and like most of us, you fall in love with a practice that makes you feel good. And you think well perhaps I could also share this with others, I looked into teacher training courses, there was not a lot of options back in those days. And so yeah, managed to do my first teacher training course in Canada actually, and quanlify in and eventually mixed in both teaching yoga and being a musician and and eventually had to make a choice. And to basically concentrate and focus on on teaching yoga because I had to be, I wanted to be consistent, you know, and also wanted to become good and to me that came with it showing up every day, and being there consistently for my classes, my students, myself.
So I kind of made the switch to, and also from a practical point of view, you know, when you play music such as funk and reggae and dub, and you get paid off of the fees that you was promised, for whatever reasons ..
that’s not good
..making make. making a living as a musician is always an interesting one, especially that type of music. So, yoga became my steady gig, so to speak, it was where I was making my steady income, being a father and having bills to pay and people to feed. And it was a no brainer, really. So I decided to just focus on that, for all those reasons. Yeah. And so I’ve been teaching full time for 14 years now. Space and Flow, my school and my style, so to speak, is going to be nine years old in a couple of weeks, actually. Yeah, yeah, that’s about it in relation to my I’m sure we’re going to talk some more about the practice in a few other things that you might want to know about how I do what I do and why I do it.
Yeah, yeah absolu…
or in terms of background, Yeah.
How did you? What was the initial impetus of creating Space and Flow? How, what was the evolution until you create this beautiful style of movement?
Mmmm. Well, I mean, the expression I like to use is that of “write the book that you want to read”. And so I did, you know, and I’m still very much in a process of editing it. But um, the input and the impetus was very much about wanting to create something that I would be happy taking classes of. And also I’m in despair on positively good. And also the fact that I am not a really good disciple. I’m a good student, but I’m not a good disciple. So being as creative as I am, and as I always was, and the idea of doing somebody else’s practice only can only could last a short while for me it was it was never really an option for me to become a certified Ashtanga teacher, and no, because I knew simply because of my ways of being and that I was going to change things and go against things and rebel against certain things. So I might have, you know, it was a natural progression for you to simply create something that I would put my own stamp on it, to be honest with you.
But now that I’m talking to you about it, I also, I share that only a few weeks ago with some people on my mentoring course, because it’s something that I don’t really talk about very often. But I think I cannot talk to you about it because you guys are teachers is that Space and Flow was at first and not a practice method. It was a teaching method. And because pedagogy is something that I’m always interested in, this is why my podcast is still is called a “Talking, Teaching and Flow” because I am interested in, in the sharing of knowledge and wisdom, more so than I am interested in the base disciplines. So for me, it was about the sharing of whatever I gained through my practice and how so putting together tools in order to share that in other words, teaching tools in our strategies that had to go, had to do with learning strategies because I think that teaching has got to do with how people learn was really and truly the first intent for Space and Flow. In other words, Space and Flow I was using Space and Flow principles to teach Iyengar, to teach Ashtanga, to teach all of these classes that I was covering. And then eventually realising that actually, this is not how it works a bit, it works for me as a person and someone who’s, who fancies themselves as an educator. But by the time you start changing the way Ashtanga is shared, then it’s not Ashtanga anymore. And by the time it starts changing the way Iyengar is shared, then it’s not Iyengar anymore. And it took me a little while to make peace with that. And then once I realised that, then it was cool. It was a case of how can I then apply my own teaching principles to my own practice? Yeah,
I had this question around these two words that you’ve put together: “space” and “flow” and what first, what does space mean to you? And then what is flowing to you? and the principles do you align with and why? And the third question, I suppose out of those two, why these two together space and flow?
Yea thanks for asking. Space to me is in relation to time, and flow in relation to space actually. I trained as a photographer, and even now I tend to see things according to traces left in space. So when I create a sequence or when I teach something, the way for me to remember them is one kinesthetically as to how certain movement patterns feel, so that I can then follow the thread. But visually externally, I remember how things are traced in space. So my relationship to space has always been in relation to that, you know, the manipulation of light and shadow. Vincent, you’re also into photography, right? Yeah, my manipu, manipulation of that and how depending on the angle and and how you manipulate light, both within yourself and, you know, externally, things can change how, you know, things can look differently in but it can also feel differently.
And flow, I mentioned flows in relation to space because there’s something continuous about space, there’s something continuous about the idea of flow. You know, something that is consistent and does not stop and even if it’s, even if it slows down or speeds up, it does it carries on. And that is something that is easy to say. You know, the term vinyasa flow is being used for many, many years. But for me, it was also a challenge to go: You know what, I don’t think many of those vinyasa flow practice practices are actually very flowy there was a contradiction between what I was being taught the way I was being taught it, you know, make a shape start there and then make another one and somehow call it call it vinyasa krama without much without much flowness in it. So that’s one reason for the Space and Flow.
I mean, the other reason for the space and flow aspect was when Indaba open, which is a studio I teach at in central London. And I was proposed, I was, I was being asked to come up with a name for my class, which at the time, I didn’t know what to call I also put together Space and Flow because I had previously opened two different yoga studios. One, the first one was called karma flow. And the second one is called the yoga space. So it was, it was all coming together. From that point of view, both made me realise that actually my relationship to space have to do with my love for, as I mentioned, the sky and the sun and the relationship to space and what it means and without necessarily getting in too deep, also the architecture of the human body and the architecture of, of environments because You know, architects, I’ve been speaking of the organisation of buildings, and of social environments for many, many, many years. And that is what I was trying to hint at. The same with flow, and also the fact that it was a ode to, to both of my previous businesses.
Because I always, for me, see flow from the perspective of transition. I always say, you know, flow also from this idea of a continuum. So I like how it kind of feeds into both our human body and how it sort of kind of, I suppose progresses from one moment to the next. And then at the same time, how we fit into that space and how we inhabit that space. So I think these are really two good things. I have a question around what are some of the main principles that you would teach in a flow training or space and flow training? You said that Space and Flow is more of a principles of how to transmit information. So what are some of the main foundations that you work with?
Hmm, I mean, it’s not more of it started as it started off as a teaching methodology. But yeah, thank you for asking the,.. A couple of principles. I mean, the first one I tend to teach with people is is called the big threes. And the big threes is nothing new, but it’s the way I’ve put it together. The big threes is basically mark your relationship, our relationship to the ground, number one. To the spine, number two. And to the breath, number three. So I assess the quality and the validity also of certain postures or certain transitions of certain sequences based on those three things. And in that order as well. What is my relationship or What is there? If I’m looking at students, or someone I’m looking at in terms of video, what is their relation to the ground, how grounded are they and you know, we can speak about, you know what it means for me to be grounded. How is their relationship to their spine is the spine elongating expanding or it is somehow being compressed in order to make a shape. And with that, how is the relationship to their breath because if the breath is constricted, as you know, we know and understand being yoga practitioners, the breath is a reflection of the mind. So, the idea is that if you can control your breath and if you can soften your breath, you can solve it soften your state of mind and that’s the ultimate goal. So, if your practice is one that is mostly physically ungrounded, that is one internally constricting and compressing in terms of the spine and is one that makes your breath shallow and all over the place. Then as far as I’m concerned, it is not a good practice. So I am going to now offer you tools to somehow augment your relationship to the ground first. You know, and then find a way to allow you to lengthen and expand your spine. Number two, and then I will help you bring awareness to your breath.
So, let’s put that in the context of, you know, a seated half spinal twist, you know, cross, you know, the legs are crossed somehow you’re sitting on your bum and you have the left foot by your right butt cheek. And then your right you have your right foot on the outset of the left thigh. Okay, so, you know, I came from a school also where people sometimes were offering people, the students have the option of putting a block underneath the right butt cheek in this case, when and that is, to me not an adaptation. It’s a compensation pattern, which I want to avoid because as I said, Now, your relationship to the ground is compromised. And also, now we’re not talking about a twist anymore. We’re talking about sidebend. So after the big three is, and I will come back to that after the big threes is the concept of differentiation, what are we really, really doing right now because it’s easy to say I’m twisting. But technically, really, eventually, you’re not twisting. You’re side bending, which is massively different physiologically, physically, it’s it’s miles apart, although they’re both included in one with the other to an extent, and sometimes straight away.
So that’s number two, to come back to the, our spinal twist. For us, for most of us human beings, to have both sit bones being grounded on the floor, and I would want both sit bones to be equally grounded on the floor so that then the spinal column can be lengthening on both sides equally, so that we can then call it a twist, because a twist there’s no such thing as right or left twist and the truth is if you twist to the right, both the left and right hand side of your spinal column, if your spine column is somewhat relatively healthy, will it be lengthening somewhat equally. So I want both sit bones to be on the floor. And for that reason I will then suggest and tell my students to remove the left foot from right next to Dell right but she can extend the left leg forward. So now that our spine twist is not one of them where the legs are crossed up, one is the left leg is straight and the right foot is either on the outside or on the inside of the left thigh. And now we’ve established a much better connection to the ground, for the sit bones and now that we have the connection to the bone for the sit bones, we can use both sit bones to lengthen the spine. Okay, and easily with that the breath will come in.
Now, this sounds very easy for us physically, but as you can, as I’m sure Vincent and yourself Meta you have come across when you work with people. You work with belief systems and now, you know, and now you’re making people do things in ways that just doesn’t look like the magazines or Instagram or so and so and so. So, yeah, this is this is an interesting one that allowed me to then learn about psychology and and how important mindsets are. So I’m currently not. So yeah. So for instance, this is how the big threes in terms of teaching method. So, you know, I was teaching that when I was covering Iyengar class, you know, and explaining it as much as I didn’t have the verbal cues at a time. I didn’t have, I couldn’t verbalise it perhaps the way I’m doing it right now, but I was this is what I was trying to convey to these people who had me covered a class or cover their teachers’ class. And then, you know, a week after the teacher comes back and says, you know, what did you teach them they were all confused and I was trying to do stuff that’s simply not within our tradition and blah, blah, blah, blah. Okay. So, it you know, it took me a while to realise that actually what I was teaching was actually sometimes even going the opposite direction on what the practice was actually cultivating or have the opposite direction on what the practice was actually prescribing, such as, you know, stuck with all the props and the belts and all of that and you adapt to the posture to your body, as opposed to you adapt to contorting your body to the posture. And suddenly just, you know, schools and certain teachers, you know, instead, certain students also just want to work with that. So, yeah, and the same for Ashtanga and the same for quite a few other things.
So, you know, it was me and my pretentious way, audacious ways of somehow saying, you know, I’d like to share expansion with people and then going, Okay, it applies, but unfortunately, it doesn’t apply because Ashtanga is a paradigm in itself, Iyengar is a paradigm in itself. And I’ve got to I can now say that they was a period of time I had no respect for them whatsoever. And now I gained a lot of respect because I’ve have, I think I realise a lot more what master Iyengar was actually doing. It’s just that I don’t think the teachings of it is very good from a general point of view. But at the time, it was a case of Yeah, bringing a teaching methodology that sometimes was simply at odd with the actual practice on all the work or how certain practices were set up. So yeah, so long story short, this is an example of one of the principles that I have teaching principles that are that I share now in Space and Flow.
So, just sorry, Meta I just quickly jump in. So just so so adaptation is created to enable the student to find the big threes basically, yeah. And so adaptation is what you introduce into your teaching methodology. So that the student can experience these ideas of grounding, obviously, the spinal elasticity and lift that you mentioned. And then the breath. So and then your ability to create that differentiation between I would say probably a more easier way of of connecting to the body when you start to adapt. And you start to align to these three ideas, that you start to create a bit of differentiation because one, obviously, there’s a constriction, there’s a there’s also a limitation to the person’s function. And then when you add that at adaptation, you create this a greater sense of ease and fluidity and to the shape that they’ve created. So conflict is reduced. At the same time, there is the sense of I can use the word flow, from the perspective of how flow is re-generating and recycling, within that moment of the in-breath and out breath, would that be sort of kind of right in my assumption, Raphan?
Yes, yeah, totally. And with that, finding the right language for it, because as I mentioned, realising that then you come across belief systems and and, and also you come across the obstacle of walking against meanings that people have managed to make for themselves as to what the practice is supposed to be, feel and look like. And that is, and as as you know, it’s it’s the hardest bit like we can we can teach adaptation and physical adaptation fairly easily, especially if you’ve got your own self practice and you’ve got your own vocabulary that you can share with others and you know, this is perhaps the hardest, i’m sorry, the easiest part. But now to go and come across as someone who’s offering a path towards a bit more freedom can actually be not as straightforward as as just offering the big threes and and a differentiation between this and that And so this is where I’m at. I’m saying that because I know you’re a trainer, so we can talk to trainers as well, which is how to go about training people to, to teach in a way that is both, you know, collective but also can be highly individualised and finding principles that work across I think, where it’s at and it takes a little while it takes a bit of compassion and empathy and sometimes it takes it takes boldness and your ability to be okay with being disliked, and your ability to be called an asshole or anything like that, you know? Um, but yeah, so I think
I heard a, I heard a really nice yeah, I heard a really nice statement today about growth and you know, and also human condition, that tension as part of this relationship that we are trying to establish and that tension is an element of conflict and that also that conflict enables us to to progress and direct our energies, and at the same time, you know, focus for the future. So there’s a progressiveness to it. If everything was sweet, and hunky dory, and then it actually works against us. So I like the idea that, that we create elements of agigation that we create, sometimes quest, we question in a particular way that, you know, it’s not not so easy to answer because we have to deconstruct our belief system to really start to answer some of these questions. And sometimes we don’t want to do that. So there’s always going to be an element of resistance. And and in terms of psychology, I totally agree. And I, I have the statement in my mind that that flow is a state of mind. It’s not a physical relationship. It’s more about the way that we either inhibit our sense of flow or sense of ease and rhythm. And it’s through really perception and interpretation, which is all constructs of the mind. Sorry, Meta. I’m jumping in. I’m excited.
I can hear you’re excited, but I’m excited too. I just love listening to what you shared Raphan. And I’ve been drawing parallels as well to the practice that we have at Hañsa because we also believe that adaptability is quite crucial. And because everybody’s quite different, in a way, in terms of their abilities, and I like what you did, because I feel that the big threes is sort of if you want to pull it back to the yoga sutras is like really Sthira Sukham Asana that you started from the Sthiram, from that ground is this stability and you find that ease and, and it gives a certain integrity so people have that to hold on to while and that sort of integrity can be applied to many different thing and as Vincent said, and that that might be where flow happens. So I found that really beautiful, but I’ve been really curious. I mean, most teachers when they go in their journey, normally They want to educate the mass and others but you naturally, your flow, you started with teaching the teachers and educating the teachers. Have that always been a passion of yours that does that evolve just naturally? Or was that a specific position that you want to start with this teaching methodologies for teachers?
Um, no, no, it I mean, it was always there. Because, as I mentioned, of the way I’ve always been where I’ve always looked as to how I’ll put it this way, I’ve always been a teacher in a sense that my mom was a childminder for 25 years. So I had students of mine, that students around me all the time, but I, I always thought anything that I I learned. So you know, for a while I was a swimming coach. And then I studied photography. So I taught photography. So you know, I’m 42 now but I’ve been a teacher since I was was very, very young, so to speak. So to me, the transfer of knowledge has always been important, much more important than whatever I was studying at a time. And so you know, for wrong and for bad I would always basically judge. Not even rate but judge people on how they shared something. Most of them what, how capable they were showing off, whatever. So, it’s natural, but at the same time, it’s also an evolution for me to be now working mostly with, you know, most of my students are teachers.
It just so happened that yeah, it evolves into into that because it’s a nice you like I’m what I’m, I’m realising that more and more and especially teaching online, where a lot of the stuff that I do, I’ve been doing it for a while and some of the videos that are that I’m sharing now that people are commenting on in very nicely, you know, sending me private messages of support and inspiration and all those things. A lot of those videos are like four or five years old. So it’s it at the same time, I would send it to my wife, I just I’m very grateful that somehow people are now starting to notice what I’m doing. But the truth is, I’ve been doing this for a minute. And I’m saying that to say that, now that I’m teaching online a lot more, I’m realising more and more that it’s the language that I use and the language, both the physical language required but also the verbal language that I, that I’m creating the book that I’m writing, that is really where it’s at. Because Yeah, it’s a way it’s a way to move through space. And as Vincent was saying, saying early on, your ability to maneuver through space is to me akin to your ability to verbalise your thoughts and the more you grow your vocabulary, and the better your story is going to become. And so if one wants to go the story of, we’ve got to grow our vocabulary. Yeah, no, yeah. There’s no, I’ve tried. You know, I’m a rebel. I’ve tried to keep it very very simple, but the truth is, any language you speak and I’m talking about language, whether English or else, you want to tell your stories, your stories better, you know, learn to speak better. You know, there are words that are even more appropriate for what you want to say. So, this is what I’m trying to do. And this is the editing of Space and Flow the book right now.
You know, yeah.
Isn’t this beautiful that your, your teaching is all about Space and Flow. And with what we’re made to do right now, teaching online, this idea of space is expanded and suddenly the traces that you talked about, now permeate, maybe even further through through Digital abilities and time might be blurred even more like you said that you have videos from a few years ago that people are still responding to and I feel that that also, what do you call that, inform or add on to the stories that you’re creating, and maybe you the flow is changing again from this. Sorry, I just got excited just because now I feel that there’s possibilities are growing to directions that we don’t even know. We don’t know the extend.
Oh Yeah, exponentially. Totally.
How’s it, how’s it been teaching online, Raphan because I know we did something together. Probably a month ago now. Would you, where you invited me on the live workshop, which was great, by the way, I really enjoyed that time. thing. Yeah. And things have slowly starting to change. But first and foremost, how did you find transitioning to online and now where are you with it since now, things are starting to ease. In New Zealand, I know things move quite rapidly to a much more freer sort of society, if you want to call it that. So I’m interested in your thoughts around this.
Hmm. Well, I mean, first of all my the transition was, I think, like most people a bit rough because there was a massive learning curve. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m a fan of massive learning curves. So I’ve got that. I call it superpower where I’m okay with chaos, and I am okay with changes. And I’m okay with reinventing myself. And to an extent I was waiting for that. So the switch to online has been very interesting. And I’m extremely grateful for it. I’ve been meaning to do it for years because you know, you meet people over the years and they ask you, do you have anything online? Do you sell any classes, blah, blah? And my answer was always Yes. I’m going to do it very, very soon. So it forced my hand and I’m very very grateful for that switch. And the way it is now is I’m loving it. I am absolutely loving it. I love it.
I love a couple of things. One I love having people from, last Sunday I had someone in Perth in you know Western Australia in class, someone in Hong Kong but also someone in Canada and someone in Israel. I love that. As Meta, Meta as you said early on, like having an instant also having people in different places in the world in different time zones and different weathers. Yeah, you know, someone in their living room and you can see the rain through their windows and someone else’s in their garden, next to their swimming pool. I absolutely love that as well as something that really touches my heart. And I really got a you know, a tad emotional last week when I had on my Tuesday evening class. Perhaps 10 or 15 or 17 people, but there was a couple, you know, husband and wife, and there was a brother and sister. You know, and there was also a couple was, I think, in Spain and brother and sister were in London, and there was a mother with a young, four or five year old child. And, and then you know, those various combinations of people.
And that, to me touches my heart because now the practice becomes real practice. Because a practice to me is real only when you can make it part of your life and it’s not something separate. And it’s not something elitist and it’s not something that only is for very spe.., you know, that one period of time in your week or in your day, as much as it’s good to have a private time. You know, that me time, the fact that this mother could have a four or five year old, and it happens every week, you know, I see all those who have their kids walking around a family was walking around. I absolutely loved that because to me, this is what the yoga practice is supposed to be. And I it really touched me especially at the end where, you know, I go through my salutation and hands together to heart center and and this little girl joins in and I got in front of my mice my my screen my screen, basically, you know, the brother and sisters and everyone else was and so it wasn’t, and that little girl was sitting on her mom’s lap and just going through, you know, movements of her arms and putting their hands to heart center and going into Namaste at the end and she started the the class, and I asked her what’s what their name was? And she says, I’m the angry caterpillar. That’s Yes, that’s, that’s the whole class time for her. So I didn’t know her name you know, know. And then at the end of it, she was so calm and towards Savasana she kept looking at the screen and basically at me because I was just sitting down in nothing and
to be able to affect that type of change across the screen and they’re probably based somewhere in Italy, or in Spain. So to me that, you know, I’m grateful for the face to face classes, but is that it’s where it’s at. So to answer your question, sorry for being so long winded I absolutely love teaching online.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I’m, I have grown also, I think out of a necessity to teach online, I think Meta as well. And I’m pretty much loving it as well. I’m just as we all are trying to figure out what is the best way of presenting ourselves and the information as well online. Because obviously, there’s few obstacles and not so much with with technicalities, but how we perceive it, and how we perceive it really determines how we approach it. So and there’s just changing, you know, our mode of operation really trying to get out of those habits of how we normally teach offline. And now we just need to be completely different and like you I love the idea that we can build new skills. I think our hand has been forced. And and I do see you more prominent as well online, I see a lot more of you as well, which is great. And so it’s thrusted I think your profile more out into the community, which I think is really good, personally. So there’s been a lot of benefits from this.
Yeah, I agree. Thank you.
I just want to say that I think all the barriers are really just being broken down. We are really reach reaching people far and wide. And then you can find those people like different age groups and different backgrounds coming together. And I really find that one of the benefits of this online training.
I agree, I think it’s a it’s I think the greatest and the most positive impact of this, this whole situation was not only for most of us to realise what’s necessary, but also how possibilities to have something decent from the comfort of your living room or bedroom garden. And also, as you said, being able to bring different generations and different cultures all at once with one practice. Yes, it’s beautiful. And to come back to what Vincent was just saying in terms of adapting the teaching, and to an extent adapting the the practice because I make a massive differentiation between what is practice and what is teaching of that practice. I’ve have my you know, I’ve shared with you my big threes, which is number one, and number two differentiation. But number three is also something that I’ve been causing a lot of trouble and I’ve been in trouble for a lot over the years, but I’m now very grateful that actually stuck to my guns, which is confusion. We choose the ability to offer a practice that’s going to bring about a bit of confusion in my students and standing my ground with it and not in doing so without apologies. Because the it appears as paradox of people listening to this saying, well, this guy wants to explain things to people better. But at the same time, he doesn’t mind me being them being confused, totally. Just the beauty of this is most beautiful paradox for me because, as Vincent, you were saying early on, you know that friction and conflict is part of growth. Well guess what? conflict, friction comes in the form of confusion, physical, mental, you name it.
And so I, as much as I also adapt certain things. I also stick true to that principle of mine, which is number three that I am here to offer a practice that is based on one main theme and Is that the practice is about the working it out. It is not about the work to getting it right. And that implies that and for me to stay grounded as the person as the man as the teacher that I am, it implies that I have to offer and that I have to stay stand strong when someone is in front of me saying, You’re not allowing me to get this right here right now, as fast as I want it to get. And for me to say it’s okay, that is exactly what the practice is. So from the get go, my number three basically enables me to say I am not for everyone all the time. And Space and Flow is not something that is for everyone, everywhere, all the time. And that this switching online has made this very, very, clear. Now, as I said, a couple of weeks ago, when we were having this conversation about going online at teaching, I am refining my verbal cueing, I am refining my my verbal tones, I’m refining how I explained things, I am improving my storytelling skills. Having said that, I am still offering a practice that is physically can be at time extremely confusing. And I stand I stand I stand today with that
I am not going to start chewing that food for you. You are going to have to put some work in and because you didn’t really look and if I was to break it down to the end of the whole thing, or what is this whole thing that I’m teaching for, is for us as human beings and this is my offering to the world, at least to myself to start with is building resilience is is the ability to find comfort within uncertainty. I’m not reinventing the wheel. This is a very old Buddhist and Sufi, you know and wise old concept. How can we possibly find peace and find comfort within uncertainty. Well, the physical practice of yoga and that of Vinyasa yoga enables us to do that in our, in, with our bodies. So for me to make it so that it’s, you get it squared away, and there’s no confusion and there’s no conflict and there is no uncertainty, then I am not offering a yoga practice as far as I’m concerned. So, yeah, that number three confusion. And really, and I have to break it down I tell people excuse my language, but you’re here to fuck it up. You’re not here to get it right. And that normally normally kind of softens everyone and most people go “Okay, all right. So I can look like you know, look like I don’t know what I’m doing.” Most definitely. You don’t have to. Yeah.
yeah, totally agree. I mean, Vincent, always says, yoga happen, Yoga happens in that moment of discomfort, in that moment of uncertainty. The question marks. Right, Vincent?
Yeah, well, yeah, you know, yoga for me, it’s not the symbol of yoga, you know, the ohm symbol. It’s the wrong one. I think it needs to be really re-edited, it needs to be the question mark. That should be the symbol of yoga. And I think that’s, that’s you’re absolutely right. I think life in itself is very uncertain. You know, I think we’re hard wired to try and create scenarios that we, what would the word be, that we know what’s around the corner. But in actual fact, we don’t know what’s around the corner. We don’t know, the next moment. And I think, you know, to teach transition to teach flow, to really treat teach flow, it aligns with how we normally live our lives. It’s not an easy proposition, because as you said, there’s, people are not geared for that people have certain anxieties when they don’t know what they’re doing. Or they, as you mentioned it, you know, fucking it up, basically, but building those resources, I think, as you mentioned, building resources, one of which is resilience, the other is which is adaptation. And also at the same time I think losing our equilibrium is actually a good thing.
And but somehow or another as we become adults, this this, this doesn’t seem to be our language anymore. We lose the ability to play we lose the ability to make mistakes, and we just had a conversation yesterday about you know, somehow now when you become a yoga teacher, you know, you can’t make mistakes anymore. You know, we learn through all these processes when it when it’s not going our way. And and I hope that it’s not going my way, you know, tomorrow because then I have to re navigate, recalibrate, and that tells you something about yourself as well. So, but I totally agree with you, Raphan. I really do. I have I have only one more final question for me but Meta, you may have a few more How do you teach your students to become more observational of themselves and other people? What are some of the tools or some, I suppose, you know, philosophies that you encourage them to align with, or some of the practical relationships that you may be offering as protocols.
The main one is making peace with the fact that the path to freedom is to be found within limitation. So I offer limitations and I offer a path towards building the capacity to really acknowledge and appreciate the benefits of limitations.
Can I stop you there? Can I stop because I feel that I feel that that’s on the money. I think there’s this endless pursuit that we can we are free but we’re not so free because there are both structural limitations and also sensory limitations and psychological limitations as well. So sorry to interrupt because I think this is very important
Please carry on.
So yeah, this is this is what I offer. Freedom is the goal, but freedom is not the way to freedom. And that is at times are interesting pill to swallow. And I know I rejected it when I first heard it many years ago, path of freedom to be found within limitations? what are you talking about? freedom is freedom. Now, realising that, you know, this build yourself or to build a path towards freedom, you’re gonna you’re gonna build it on something. So it isn’t. I mean, the title of a book that I really like is called the “the obstacle is the way” very stoic philosophy. And the book is a stoic book by someone called Ryan Holiday. And yeah, this is what I offer. Literally making peace with this and within that also appreciating that what you thought was a curse or was a something negative is actually can be seen and can be looked at as as a blessing. Oh you are scoliosis. Awesome. Let’s now look at the validity of twisting. And now let’s let’s shatter the idea that everything has got to be done right and left exactly the same way. Oh, you mean it’s useful? Yeah, most definitely. So it implies, you know a certain confidence obviously, for me as a teacher but also to train the teachers that I train, but I am trying to impart into empower people to see that whatever limitations they’ve been working with, whatever limitation they’ve been walking against those that will complaining and whining about and those that they thought could never they could never get read off can actually be the path towards them becoming anything and that that is how we do it.
Yeah. Because I come up with this idea that yoga talks about transcendence but I think that’s an illusion. The first thing that we have to do is embody our current reality that we’re in. And I think that’s that’s essential and I think somewhere along the line, there arises a level of acceptance and that acceptance somehow spews into a level transcendence, but I think we, we missed the steps really, how to get to to this idea of freedom I think, is too high for a lot of us or some of these ideals, I think are just too too far, too far as a concept for us to even understand what it means in our bodies and what it means in our realities that we exist in. And so, and this is one way of creating differentiation, contrast. Just this is Yeah, this is the key, I think and, and somehow or another this message has been lost.
Yes, somehow, yeah.
You know, and yeah, so thank you, Raphan. I appreciate those comments. Meta do you have any other? Anything else?
Oh, just one last question, I guess before we wrap it up, but I’m not, adding to what we just discussed. Maybe the key, like so freedom has limitation and sometimes you have to see that as as the path to their freedom. And I feel that with a lot of people, being told that something that they cannot wrap their head around, and what happens initially is a lot of pushback. Because they have a certain preconceived idea what is freedom and I feel that that path to acceptance can be such a huge gap. In your experience Raphan, what are some of the steps that people can take to sort of bridge the two ends? So that they can be with their limitation and see that from a different perspective?
Yeah, I mean, I do have a couple of answers for this, but I will I’ll, I’ll give you a short one, right. And it’s something that I use on myself and I’ve used my with myself for many years now. You ask yourself, I’m sorry, you gave yourself two options. And I’ve it’s gonna sound pretentious, but I’ve worked it out. There’s no there’s no three options. There’s only two. So for those listening, if you want a tool as to how you go about, you know, dealing with whatever sense of frustration of or happiness about what Meta was just asking. This is how it works for me. This is what I tell my my students and what I tell myself also. you have two choices when something that is pops up. Number one, give yourself a break. Give yourself a break, quite literally give yourself a break. Who are you not to struggle. Who are you not to get it to want to get it straight away, who are you, to somehow expect everything to, you know, be working out exactly how you want to. So give yourself a break. I’m trying to say be compassionate towards yourself.
And if this is too cheesy for you, you go to number two. And as I said, I mean, please Meta and Vincent do tell me if you can think of number three, but for the past few years, I’ve been thinking about whether there is number three and number two is this. Get over yourself. Simple as that
build build a bridge, yeah.
Yeah, get over yourself. The same questions applied, Who are you to think that you should get this straightaway. And who are you to think that you already have all the definitions about everything and anything, it’s got to do with you and your life. So the sub questions are the same, but it’s a case of how do you approach yourself if you’re someone who beat themselves up quite badly and negative talk and all those things. And then yeah, it’s my job as a as a coach, as a mentor as a psychotherapist in training, to just remind you to just be compassionate and have a bit, a lot more patience with yourself. You know, find the right people to work with those people who are invested in in your growth, they are going to tell you what you need to use as opposed to what you want to hear. And number two, if that is not the right option for the day. Go to number two, and turn yourself to get over yourself. Yeah,
such a good advice. Yes, I fully agree. I mean, I tell myself that all the time, so I need to remind myself that constantly Yeah, sorry, Vincent.
Yeah. No, no, no, it’s fine. Because also the way I used to bridge that gap as well as through what I termed as dosage, how much how little, you know, that enables then to meet the requirements of that moment. And, and, and this is a reliant very much reliant on the skill of the teacher, knowing how much how little, what to say when to say it, how much to say and when not to say anything. So, because it’s such a dynamic relationship, isn’t it this this process of trying to encourage an element of self realisation, both to our limitations and our potentualities. Yeah. So from a, from a therapeutic perspective, you know, I’ve always come from the idea of, of dosage, how much how little too much sometimes just burns the person at the stake. It’s just, it’s just, there’s too much agitation, and it’s actually it’s not useful and it’s not serving. Too little, it’s doesn’t create any transformation. So there is this beautiful balance that we are trying to ascertain. And, and it’s such a, it’s such a moving goalpost as well, for a lot of people.
Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s a important point, right? Because some might think, Well, you know, we need to be balanced in our approach, but it’s not about being balanced. or more importantly, it’s about realising that balance is not 50-50. So it’s not like you’re gonna tell yourself, you know, one time I’m going to be compassionate than the next I’m going to tell myself And I’m just going to try to keep those balance because no, in the realm of the hundred 70-30 is balanced, 80-20 is balance. 90-10 is balanced. So it’s not about balance in a sense of equality as to oh I need to know. It’s, as you said, the mitigation, the juggling, and being right here right now be here now assessing quite honestly, you know what’s going on? And the reason I say that is because I find for myself and also for a lot of people I mentor, that very often when your first answer is or your first option, the first option you choose is be compassionate, or give yourself a break, eventually you need to go to number two. And very often when you go to number two and you start telling yourself Oh, get over yourself, blah, blah, blah. eventually perhaps you just need to go into number one. So and that’s a constant state of really assessing. You know where you are on the day. What are your goals In terms of next week, next month, next year, 5-10 years, because those are very important as well. It gives you something to gauge and it offers you limitations to work within. And then to go with that. But yeah, it requires a constant state of paying attention. Actually it’s just like driving and all those micro adjustments. We make thousands of them without noticing it when we drive with, you know, with our hands on the wheel. And it’s the same thing with our lives and our, you know, constant balancing act of trying to work it out to the best of our growing ability.
That’s right now our attention our attention needs to flow.
Yeah, quite literally.
Yeah, yeah. Hey, Raphan. Just tell us what you’re doing at the moment where we can find you online. Yeah. And all the little things that you’re doing, which I think are great. Yeah.
Well, I’ll start with where you can find me. You can find me on Instagram, at Raphan.co.uk. I’m sorry at raphankebe all in one word. You can find me online at my personal website, which is Raphan.co.uk and Raphan is spelled R-A-P for Patrick, H-A-N from November. And I’m also definitely find me on space-flow.yoga. That’s the main website for the practice and the mentoring course and my teacher training course starting in July as well an online interactive teacher training course. So all the details are there for also the classes, space-flow.yoga.
And what I’m currently doing is I’m in the process of for the first time in my life, I guess recording some of my classes so that people don’t have to come online with me at times that I teach and can literally buy them and download them perhaps and practice them. practice them anytime they want. So, I’m in the midst of that did the first recording session last last Thursday’s. And I’m going to do a lot more of that. I am in the process of recordings, meditation and motivation and motivational tracks for people to listen to and hopefully be inspired by. And I’m in the process of launching my, the relaunch of the talking teaching and flow podcast, which we should be happening next week within two weeks. Right. So where Vincent came was basically a pre launch of me running live conversations with a live audience. And now I’m going to do basically what you guys are doing which is I’m going to invite people like Vincent hint hint. To discuss one to one or one, I said one to one, but I’m recording one this afternoon with four yoga studio owners. one in Canada, one in Paris, two in the UK, discussing, you know what you’ve asked me early on. How is the switch to online? What is the next new normal going to bring for them and how they’re coping? That should be an interesting conversation. Because I know that one of them had to close down your studio. And so this is what I’m doing. I’m trying to I’m not trying because I’m I’m just keeping busy basically with quite a lot of on my plate, but I’m having a good good good time. I wake up every morning. You know, looking forward to the day into everything that I’ve got to do. I am aware of, I am aware slightly of what’s going on in the world, especially nowadays with you know, the riots and COVID-19 and all those things. But I keep my head down and I keep walking and I keep teaching and I keep mentoring people I’m trying to provide as much help and guidance as I possibly can. still, you know, as I say, keeping my head down and keep myself busy working, you know?
Yeah, very, very good. We’re going to put these things online for you too, Raphan. So, so that people will have references from this podcast.
to jump on. Yeah, that’d be great. Hey, listen, thank you very much for your time really appreciate your wisdom. Everything that you do. brilliant.
No, Well, thank you to you both for putting this together for having me on on board I’m truly honoured is it is truly an honour. I don’t say yes to everyone who invites me to have conversations with but I was delighted when you were you sent me a message. And I’m touched and shocked that i’m shocked that you you like my you know, you know what I do so big thanks both to you Vincent and to you Meta. Much appreciated.
Thank you very much.
It’s been such a pleasure listening to what you’re sharing and yeah Looking forward to seeing more of you and more conversation hopefully in the future. Thank you.
That’d be awesome. Thank you guys.
Thank you everybody who’s listening and we’ll be back next week with another conversation.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa conversations a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. 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 Conversations and thank you for listening.
Ep. 4 – Injuriesn in Yoga
Just like other movement practices, there is always a risk of injury in the practice of Yoga. In this episode, we talked about injuries in the world of yoga. We discussed some of the issues that are contributing to the injuries, the behavior of injuries and what can injuries teach us.
Read transcript here
Welcome to the Hañsa Conversations where we discuss some ideas behind the Hañsa therapeutic philosophy, and other ideas around therapy, movement and yoga practices as they relate to life in general. We welcome you, and we hope you enjoy this conversation.
Hey, everybody, welcome back to Hañsa Conversations back with me Meta from Hañsa Indonesia and with Vincent Bolletta, the founder and director of Hañsa. Hello, hello, Vincent.
Hey, how you doing?
I’m great. I’m doing really good. How are you?
I’m back in quarantine. I have just traveled to New Zealand.
So, Another 14 days and in another hotel.
But I think it’s great that you’re back in New Zealand.
Yes, yes. I I agree. I think it’s a good thing and nice to be home.
Yes. Great. Great. So thank you for joining me today on, from another quarantine.
Yeah. You’re Welcome.
So let’s have a chat. I figured we’ll talk about injury in the yoga industry.
Because it’s something that’s quite common. And I remember when you were sharing your story, and please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you said that you started getting into therapy because you started seeing injuries in yoga. So just maybe share with us what have you seen throughout the years? Has injury always been in the world of yoga? Is there a difference between then and now? Are people more mindful these days? Just curious.
Yeah nah. That’s a very typical New Zealand thing to say. Yeah nah. Yeah. I when I when I started yoga, I think I was there for more personal, spiritual reasons, I suppose. But I’ve always been interested about the body, and in viewing the body from the perspective or movement and function, I started to see certain contradictions in yoga. And that some of the things we were asking our students to do, I started noticing that these things were creating discomfort and eventual injury. And that was including myself as well, where I would be progressing along a certain practice and trying to evolve my skill or my ability to do whatever position and deepen into it. And that it led to certain complications and those complications are still with me today. So all of a sudden, I saw these contradictions and I thought to myself, now if Yoga is a healing modality, which it professes it to be, why are so many people becoming injured and is that part of the equation that we have to go through this process where we get injured to become more self aware. And then through that self awareness, awareness, we make better choice? Or is it something that we constructed along the way, and have sort of established a narrative that this is the path of progression?
So these questions came to me and I’ve, over the years just started to delve a little bit more deeply and what is what is functionality? What is that actually mean? What is, you know, if you like, supportive of the human body and our conditions and also enables our body to thrive and function at a higher level? And what are the things that don’t do that? So these are the some of the things that I came up with. And when I first started yoga, there wasn’t really that much information. To tell you the truth. It was all really based upon these teachings that were handed down from, from somebody that was recognised as a guru or some some level of mastery around around that practice. And there was no really questioning of what these things that we were asked to do. There was no real deep inquiry about it, it was just taken for granted. This is what we did. And today now there is more information about lots of things, really, in terms of the practice of yoga, there is there is definitely much more interest in it. So that means it’s more more attention placed on it. And through that, just naturally more information has come from it. And, and there’s a lot of things now that I think, in the old days that we’re doing is very contradictory to what is current in our understanding of the practice of yoga or the practice of moving our body. And so it’s a good thing, I think now it’s a good thing and I and having this information. In some respects, there is no excuses really to be doing certain things that in some respects are creating scenarios that are unsupportive for our students. Okay. So these are the some of the observations that I had early on and what is current at the moment.
It’s interesting that you said that in the beginning, they’re more contradictory in terms of what the practice is trying to achieve and the actual perhaps physical practice itself. I wonder if the problems started from the beginning of the evolution of yoga. I mean, obviously, we learn about the sutras and what yoga is trying to achieve. And and I agree with that, because, to me, a big part of yoga is obviously the spiritual, I guess you can call it, atainment. But the physical aspect is is there and the physical aspect is obviously what gets people in injury most of the times and I wonder if somewhere in the evolution was created in a way that brings that contradictory
Yeah, I think it’s yeah nah there’s a number of things to consider and the first is that you know, who is viewing the practice is first and foremost an important component because we bring a lot of our narratives and and expectations on it. And then at the end, and at the same time, I think that we start at a superficial level we start at a gross level, but it seemed in the early stages to you know, we we spoke a good spiritual game, but we really didn’t act it out. And most of the acting out was in the in the practice of Asana, or the practice of posture, or the practice of manipulating our bodies in particular ways. But In essence, you know, the practice, any practice, you know, whether it’s spiritually orientated or not, it takes you from the gross to the subtle.
And so, I think it’s just the general maturing of the community. I think it’s, it’s a, it’s also deciphering of the inflammation is also in some respects, deconstructing the practice in ways that now we are a little bit more attentive to the needs of our of our bodies, of our communities. And we are adapting the practice to the requirements of those communities or individuals and I think this is important because I heard this ages ago and it’s and it’s and it’s really an old teaching or an old saying really from Krishnamacharya I think and I may be, maybe misquoting but, in the but the practice should serve the practitioner Not the other way down, not the other way around. And I’m not sure how that got flipped where we had to serve the practice. And so whether because we naturally want to acquire a better physical and natural states or states of physical ability that is much higher than what we currently are or we feel that physically, as we progressing, we have a greater understanding as well or there is a parallel, you know, universes that as as we physically progress and become more skillful, so thus our knowledge and understanding of ourselves.
But that’s not necessarily correct, I don’t think. And because when I first started the practice of yoga, I admired teachers that had great physical ability. That what attracted me to the practice and somehow also placed some level of spiritual attainment around their ability to manipulate their bodies. But that was very naive on my part, but no, at the time I was quite young and, and still idealistic and romantic about many things. And so that played into the narrative really nicely for me. So these things, these things, you know, do evolve. And I think, I think where we are now is a much more mature place. I think there’s more information, there’s greater variety of teaching as well, which I think is a good thing. Because when I when I first started yoga, there wasn’t much around, there’s maybe two styles if you want to call it that. And, and that, and that was, you know, and also the people who was teaching or how many people were teaching was very limited. There wasn’t that many studios or schools. There wasn’t that many people practicing it? So now with greater numbers and obviously greater awareness of it, I think we have more information around it as well.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I’m thankful now there are so many options for somebody who, who, who wants to do yoga and anyone can start from different spectrums of it, according to what he or she is seeking.
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I find I found that, you know, the practice itself. You have to go through a process of, you know, doing doing certain things and then realising through through certain discomforts and the realisations that come from it, that some of these things that you’re doing and actually not that useful and serving of you. And so, you know, the practice that I was doing at, you know, years ago, I’m not doing that practice now. In actual fact I’ve modified and edited a lot of the things that I used to do. And I find them not useful because I see, you know, the traditional practices is quite stylistic and crystallising of certain experiences. And it doesn’t it doesn’t talk about certain dynamics. And I think this is where the injuries do come where we encourage our students become overly concerned of the details. And at the same time, we we position them in the shapes that not necessarily they would do an everyday movement relationship. And we crystallise them in so much stylistic ways that I think it takes takes the body beyond the natural functionality or boundaries of what function is. And this is where then we repeat the same movements or positions over and over and over again. And then at some point, the body’s going to rebel against this process. At some point is not able to adapt to the stresses in the environment that you’re creating. Or you’ve created an environment that is so destabilising that the stress is now creating more more agitation then then the body’s able to deal with.
Yeah. I, and it’s funny because when, I feel that injury or something that happens like that is almost, not rites of passage, that sounds so wrong, but it is in a way because humans are like that. I feel that when we encounter is something quite shocking like an injury is when we start questioning things and wondering if what we’re doing is serving us or not. And it’s unfortunate that it has to come in at a form normally that is quite intense, but I don’t know with many people, but I think for me, my injuries in the past is a way for me to actually open my eyes a little more to just question. All right. Why have I been doing certain things?
but I’m sorry, I’m just jumping on to the next one. And we can cover both. But I just want to say that most humans, I mean, me included and a lot of Yogi, we’re just so bad at injuries or dealing with injuries. And then normally, we just want to jump right into our practice again, or really just what you call that plow through the pain to just get back to what we were able to do before. But from the therapy point of view, can you just share with us also, how long does it actually take for someone to heal from an injury? Obviously, it depends on the injury, but I think there’s there’s a range there so we can learn to be patient.
Yeah, yeah. Well, first and foremost, I think you touched upon something that’s really important. I mean, injury does create contrast. And that kind of awakens us to potential or other possibilities, especially if the injury is chronic. And so, so there’s a number and there’s a number of things that you you’ve mentioned there that I think is important, I mean injuries, I think do create contrast and and they do develop a level of awareness for us that that shapes is that shapes our eventual choices later in the future. And I think also we have to understand that yes, you’re right, injury is not a negative thing. And it does teaches us to, to navigate more appropriately and more skillful and refine ways the relationship that we’re having to the practice. And, and so for me, because I see life, if we’re moving, there’s always potential for for injury. I mean, you know, walking outside your front door, you know, there’s a potential that you’re going to injure yourself at some stage when you trip over a pebble or what have you. So there’s always going to be something I mean, life, you know, life holds the potentuality for for discomfort, you know, at any stage.
But if we’re doing it out of misunderstandings and misaligned narratives, and immature relationships to our physicality or to our needs, and then then we need to re address that in many ways. And sometimes we’re not conscious of those those misalignments if you like, until something happens in our in our life or in our body that I think establishes is a better understanding. So, so that our understandings develop with the greater, I suppose, appreciation of when things can go wrong, you know we can we can develop a sound, more mature relationship to ourselves, when we know that sometimes we are the ones that are instigating these issues, and especially if we can start to inform ourselves, so what is supported and what isn’t supported. And I know, it’s this scenario is dynamic, so it does change through different phases of one’s life. But it’s important that we maintain a certain clarity of what is functional and what isn’t and what is suitable and what isn’t.
And then at different stages of our lives, Something that may seem suitable now, 10 years from now will not be suitable. And the question always comes down to and I see this in many ways to about add to, to our ability to adapt. And sometimes we don’t have that quality of adaptation refined until it’s forced upon us. And, and so to, to adapt requires a certain level of sensitivity, a certain level of awareness and appreciation of what is now and what what is now is going to change. So we, we, I think, as human beings, we naturally gravitate to wanting to create structures and reinforce those structures and those structures then, you know, maybe serving at one point in time in our life will not necessarily be available to us, later on because things have changed. And to me and to me, you know, our motivations of why we practice in certain ways and why we push ourselves in certain ways that take us beyond what the capet capability of our body can do. Some of the things that we have to address in our practice, and that I think are important to avoiding injuries and creating better supportive environments.
And then the the question about, you know, half, how long is a piece is a piece of string really isn’t it? How long is a piece of string? So how long is it takes injury to take? So roughly, depending upon the injury, it takes roughly about six weeks for it to fully recover. I heard statistics years and years ago that a ligament may if you injure a ligament, for example, may take up to 18 months to two years to recover. And so and I think in yoga, a lot of the injuries that we get are either very deeply tendinous injuries because, you know, the requirements have taken ourselves further into into the shapes and does you know, influence if you like the deeper structures that maintain stability and they also the very ligament base so and once you’ve created a sizable enough injury in your yoga practice, it may be with you for a very long time. And and the rehabilitative process is an essential ingredient and I think now I think this is the key here is that understanding the behavior of injury the understanding the behavior of rehabilitation is essential to being a yoga practitioner or yoga teacher. Because then you you then you know how to support people but more importantly, you know, the stages that people are at with their conditions.
Can you expound on that a little bit when you say understanding the behavior of an injury What do you mean by that?
Well, you know, the body goes through a certain process. And once you get injured, of of healing, and all there’s different phases to that healing, and so you have the initial trauma, and then you have compensatory effects that come with it. And then in time the body starts to create certain scenarios where it restores balance or neutrality or restores the area back to a certain functional state. And there’s stages to that. And so, the understanding what those stages are think are really essential. From the initial trauma to the stage of when it starts to rehabilitate itself, to returning back to functionality and then maintaining that functionality is another, another question involved as well. But you can help the body speed up the process of healing by in being active in your rehabilitative process. In terms of, you know, the things that you do, and the understanding, as I said, of the injury that you have, and then the things that you do, hopefully supportive of your body’s recovery, rather than than negating it.
You know, I’ll give you a story. This happened. This happened to me many, many years ago, I was doing a practice and there was a deep posture in it. And I decided to do I felt really good that day, by the way, I mean, it’s like in my body felt amazing and it’s like I was moving sweetly and you know, felt vital and and then I did this posture that I normally do, but I decided because I felt so good. Just to Just take it another few millimeters deeper than I would have normally. I mean, because I had a certain expectation of where I needed to be, and this wasn’t a day that I was going to just push the envelope a little bit. And I felt a snap in my back round the lower sacroiliac structure. And, and I knew in that moment that I had done something quite serious. And I did a couple of stretches just to check it out to see how serious it was. And just intuitively, I know it was it wasn’t good and that I needed somehow to get home and because I was very warm, and I was I was sweaty, my body was, you know, able to move because of that internal environment. I thought once I start cooling down, this is going to get worse and I’ll probably won’t be able to move at all and so I managed to get myself to the car. I managed to get myself home and lay down, rested for a while. And then I thought I’ll have a shower had a shower, warm water on the back felt good. It’s like oh, okay, this is not so bad as I thought it was going to be came out of the shower. I thought all I’ll do just a few movements to see I felt Yea, it’s Okay, not too bad. And then guess what happened next following day, I was back again to doing the same practice trying to do the same posture that I was doing before.
And so, so my, my stupidity at the time, was was was really related around the whole process of not knowing of what the body was trying to do when I injured it, but also what you know, my ability to do the things that I wanted to aspire to. And, and so you know, there’s there’s only, and my body type is you know, I’ve got really long legs, I’ve got a short torso. So you know, to wrap around my legs around the back of my head, you know, it’s sometimes it’s a little bit hard to navigate or there’s certain complications, my hip structure is very different to other people. So the way other people look in the pose is very different to the way that I look. And I didn’t realise that at the time because I was young and idealistic. And again, I placed too much value on the shape on the geometrical shape, I thought that attaining the shape head would create some level of merit or would acquire some level of information or knowledge that I didn’t have at the time.
And it’s and the problem for me is that the yoga sometimes professes an attitude where where you are now is not good enough and you need to be to be in another another level of understanding and the way to get there is through this medium. And, and to me that creates conflict. Because where you are now is actually is really perfect. Where you are now is everything that Yoga is directing to you to to be present to understand the conditions that you are in the limitations that are naturally there and the things that you can maybe improve on. These are the things that yoga are pointing you to, rather than, you know, trying to aspire to something that is beyond you that is idealistic, and in some ways not attainable for the majority of the individuals that are out there with the pseudo spiritual connotation associated to it. I think it’s, um, think is deluding, it’s misleading and I think it needs to be reshaped with different language. And I think in some ways, in some respects, people take some of the information of the practice too literally and I think and this leads to injury in this league. To complications and this leads to conflict, and at least people dropping out of practice that I think is actually a good practice. But it just needs a level of maturity to appreciate it.
So important, isn’t it to understand that where we are at the moment is, is good, because really, then the cause of injury is what you shared, which is stubbornness, expectation and having a desire that is probably too far from the reality of where we are right now. And then the practice really is then we should flip it the practice of yoga to really be a practice of humbleness, of understanding ourselves at this moment.
Yeah. That’s an interesting, interesting idea of, of humbling yourself to the practice. I would, I would say that part of the humbling is informing ourselves of what is what is the human condition? And what is what what are some of the things that we do that somehow sabotage our understanding these are in terms of behaviour, these in terms of attitudes and expectations. I think this this is essential as well, I mean you, you can’t stop the body from degenerating and at some stage becoming injured, but you can provide an environment of maintaining a certain level of functionality that equates to longevity. And I think what we have to question is what what is functional? What, what is supportive, you know, what is that the body does really well? And how can we enhance that and maintain that? Rather than see the body from more what it doesn’t do very well, and how can we improve it?
And so I think I think this, this is important. And I think rather than being, I mean, yes, humble, I think is good because I think humble equates to certain psychological conditions, and also certain, you know, perceived, perceived value that we have of ourselves, I think, I think, yeah, that equates really nicely to it. But then at the same time, we need to have a certain degree of motivation, and to develop a greater degree of maturity, understanding and acquire a certain degree of knowledge that we can start to embody in a way that makes sense on a practical level. I think this is also very important. So there’s a fine balance between too humble and too egotistical. So we need to define what these words are as well and what and what sits within this middle path that you know, the wonderful Buddhists talk about. And that is, and that also can equate to the object and subject, you know, does the object influence the subject or does the subject viewing the object influence the object. Some where, there is a middle path between the two that we can find some some happy medium. And so it’s the same with the yoga practice, who’s viewing the practice is really important. And sometimes the person that’s viewing the practice, their view of it might be slightly faulty or misaligned or have certain concepts around it. And that may lead in the future, to certain complications or agitations that are not necessary. But that’s not to say that that attitude won’t change as the person practice through contrasting events that we’ve just mentioned.
I think these these are natural and I think in some ways, useful and purposeful in the way of shaping our understanding of life. So I think, And I always now, when I look at the yoga practice, I always say what is functional, what is supportive of your body is usually what is functional and then how do we equate what is functionality and we you know, we discussed in earlier podcasts that you know, there’s certain range of motion that the body has, that is that is optimal. And then once you go beyond it, then you lead to certain environments that you have to compensate and, and that compensation potentially could lead to fields of injury. And so, I always always view yoga now, from the perspective of how it, does it enhance your life or does it not enhance your life? Or does it enhance your understanding or does it you know, does it not. And you know, it like, Look, I’ll say this and I sort of say it and jest, you know, and yoga can have two possibilities it can illuminate your understanding or it can perpetuate your stupidity.
Yes, it can
it’s all about. It’s all about choice really, isn’t it?
Absolutely. Yes, I agree. I just want to say I think it’s also important to remember that this doesn’t just, this isn’t just limited to the time that somebody has on the mat because yoga is really the practice of life and the understanding of functionality, the consciousness of it has to be brought to ideally to everyday life because honestly, I don’t know about other people but a lot of my injuries happens not in the studio and not in the on the yoga mat, but when I’m just doing something silly, every day in my day to day life, which means that I, could be my habitual patterns could be just because I already have that in the body, obviously because of that, but it’s because the I don’t carry the same consciousness of what my body function is to the rest of the life and I just restrict to one or two hours a day, which can, which is not good as well.
Yeah, yeah, look, I think I think you’ve touched on something nicely I think that a movement is is a process that within itself has certain beautiful structures, those structures, sometimes habituated and they define our patterns of movement and rhythms. And, and these are expressed through general posture, I think in general posture really is, is something that we align with really nicely. It’s something that we define ourselves and space with. And so sometimes our postural conditions, are major contributors to injury are major contributors to ailments. And sometimes these general postures or habituated postures in a yoga practice can be accentuated if the level of attention is not refined enough. Because we can, we can perpetuate these habituated postures in our yoga practice, we can emphasise them more. Or we can move in places that we already moved too much. We can stiffen in places that we already stiff too much. So. So a lot of it is really, in many respects governed by some of these things that you’ve just said and that, you know, our movement patterns do not change when we step on the mat. Sometimes these movement patterns, as I say, can be reinforced. And so the question of yoga is the question of viewing your life in its totality in the way that you move the way you interact with yourself as much as with other people.
And sometimes you know, how Yoga is portrayed now, which you know, rightly or wrongly is commercialised, but in some respects the wrong part about it is identifying more so with the physical attainment of posture Through through through social media, you know, through the Instagram through the Facebook or whatever it is that people are engaging with to express themselves on on the internet platforms. And so this this shapes the viewers attention in particular ways that you know, yoga or what have you is now more physically based, it doesn’t it doesn’t inquire deeper into the dynamics of interpretation of how we participate, our motivations and some of the opinions that refine our motivations or, you know, or develop these motivations. But this, this, to me is a really important conversation that we need to have in the yoga community and you know, and there’s a certain agendas associated to some of these images.
And and we’ve taken we can take that further that the commercialisation of Yoga has also created sort of agendas for yoga studios rightly to survive within the environment of this commercial paradigm and so the way that they target their students or their the way that they target or create the narrative is around the exercise fitness model, its class base, there is elements to it that rightly or wrongly, we lead people through sequences that sometimes are not for everybody. That the it’s more about the experience than it is about the functionality of it. It’s more about trying to create an uplifting environment, a positive, maybe a false positive scenario within the person so that they have a great experience and a great experience then obviously enables them to come back again. Now, the process of, for me, of yoga is is a self inquiry process and this goes and the injuries are really good to enable us to do deeper self inquiry because they again get us to look at the the behaviour of the human body, from physical gross components to energetic to deeper emotional and psychological tendencies. All these things move, not just your body move, but all these things move.
So when we, when we look at yoga movement, or we look at movement, we have to look at movement from a multi dimensional or multi layered perspective, because these are really important to understand ourselves as much as the practice. Now, that takes time, it takes energy and takes commitment. And sometimes, you know, as I say, with these commercialised processes in yoga, this idea of time, patience, and relating to our bodies in a much more nurturing way, doesn’t fit that narrative very well. So, we have to we have to also now start to look relook at the way that we’re expressing yoga. And in the scenarios that we’ve see, currently that is presented. So there’s a number of questions and I don’t think there’s an answer to it. But I do think asking the questions just makes us a little bit more informed it allows our understanding to mature our opinions to be refined more deeply, and eventually how we express ourselves in the practice also, is presented in the same way. And that’s all we can really do in many respects.
I think that’s so important to have that enquiring mind because, I mean, the commer, commercialisation, I cannot say that the word, commercialisation of yoga is something that we can’t avoid, it’s already happening and people love to see beautiful pictures of postures, and I’ve really there’s obviously there’s nothing wrong with trying to achieve something but like you said, Whether that is serving you or not, or whether that’s we’re doing it within our range, or are we pushing ourselves for something that is completely unattainable? A lot of that is questioning, is the practice of self-inquiry. And this actually reminds me of a conversation that we had with one of your students, I think back in Shanghai and I don’t know if you remember this conversation because she was comparing yoga to martial arts for example, karate, and you know how in karate, you have to go through a certain belts first, you begin with basic and you’re a white belt and then eventually you move on and so you’re secure and grounded in just basic thing although it’s boring repeated every day. But that teaches you certain one or two things about body functionality and ability before moving on to the next step, and like we were talking about whether yoga should be that way? should we should begin from the simple? obviously we should. But people’s, what do you call that, expectation tend to start from a level that is far from where they should begin most of the time.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. I think our expectations are something that leads us and leads a lot of us into trouble and especially and especially if our expectation and what the current reality is, is there is a huge divide between them. And so, knowing our current status is really you know, important. I think differentiating the differences are really essential here and and then starting at a at a beginner stage, or I suppose grading it as the martial arts do it, I think is not a bad thing. You know, I mean in yoga, I know in yoga classes, we have beginners, intermediate and advanced classes. But that doesn’t cut the mustard in many respects. Because you’re asking people to self regulate and you know, people really find it difficult to self regulate. You know, so So I think, you know, maybe, you know, I mean, there is there is certain ethical grounds and and within the practice, if you like, of how you should behave and present yourself, but when it comes to Asana doesn’t, there doesn’t seem to be the same, the same consideration.
But, yeah, I mean, I think the practice of yoga is an experiential practice, but I think there has to be some really good get ground rules before we let people loosen their bodies, you know, because not everybody has the vocabulary or understanding or connectivity to the body that um that some people do. And so and this is important because to know your body is to learn like a new language. And so it takes time to learn this new language of what your body is saying to you and also some of the conditions that presented that you may not know or do know about it and but don’t know how to interpret it. So this takes time and this is the role of the teacher in many respects to teach students how to listen what to listen to, and also direct their attention and gaze to things that I think are essential to the support of the student. And and and this is a maturing also of the teaching itself, not the teacher but the teaching. And I think this is where we’re at at the moment.
And I think one good thing that’s happened in the yoga community that’s that’s influenced the yoga practice that there’s a lot of other movement modalities now that are in themselves very valid and have good value. And they are very contemporary. But, they have informed yoga, the yoga community, the yoga practice in different ways that now the Yoga has naturally starting to incorporate some of these beliefs and principles and movement strategies into the practice. And you know, martial arts is a good one, but I think yoga started from, you know, many different movement modalities in the in the ancient times. So, you know, and I don’t think yoga should be a rigid format. I think yoga needs to be dynamic, it needs to be explored itself and needs to reinvent itself. I think it doesn’t, it’s not owned by any individual. I think that’s that’s a fallacy or any particular community. I think that’s wrong to consider that because it then it makes it very secret segregated. I think yoga is a universal process, I think it creates a relationship that is dynamic, as I said, so in its in its dynamic form, it will constantly remould itself. And it will become it will be different from from one person to another. And I think this is important.
Yeah, I love. Well, I’ve said it in earlier in the podcast. I love the diversity that we have at the moment. And you’re absolutely right. More and more people are bringing knowledge from other modalities into the practice of yoga. And I think that’s really, really important and useful. And this is such a blessing for people practicing it because now we have more information that we can really start to think use our beautiful thinking mind more in the practice of yoga instead of just following or doing because like you said, it’s such an evolving Beautiful, diverse practice and is as unique as each one of us.
Yeah, I totally agree. And I think, and I think, you know, yoga in the past when I first practice it, you know, it was very specific, in its look and shape and the way we moved. And I think, you know, at the time, you could say that there wasn’t enough diversity in movement in the yoga practice at the time. But now, I think there is more but it’s, you have to be careful because what I’m also noticing now that there is there is also now a crystallisation of certain processes in the yoga community that and that are limiting now its exploration. And, um, maybe it goes through cycles, you know, we have to get structured and we have to create these barriers and and, you know, belief systems that eventually in time will become challenged again, there’s a new group of people coming through that that are now, you know, imposing their vitality and the energy, and also their questions on it that has that the practice starts to remould and shape. So, you know, I do see, I see the life and the practice is a cyclical process, or cyclical process. And so, you know, and we have to understand that everything is a rhythm, everything is a pattern. And as I said before, if you know the pattern of injury, then you have then you start to understand the pattern of function, then you understand behaviors and then you understand what influences behaviors, and they in themselves are also rhythmical as well, so, you know that their relationship of movement is rhythmical and I think and my hope is that what I teach is is a process of observing rhythm both micro and macro, personal and communal. So, so this is my sort of kind of gig if you like.
Cool. I think that’s also a nice wrap to our conversation today. Yeah, we’ve covered so much today. So yeah, if you’re listening. Please be careful. injuries are no fun. I think both of us are still dealing with what we injured a long time ago. But it’s, I think it’s a blessing to me, I mean, yeah, there are days that I curse my injuries. But at the same time, I’m quite grateful for it because I learned to notice my, well what you’ve covered before, areas where I’m more stiff or areas where I’m more open, my posture. I have noticed so much from this injury that even though I curse at it, I’m also grateful for it.
it’s a silver lining, isn’t it, Meta?
Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Oh, thanks, Vincent.
That was that was fun conversation and thanks guys for listening and see you again in our next Hañsa Conversation.
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.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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.
You’ve been listening to Hansa conversations, a podcast. Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Learn more about hañsa 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 nice hañsa compensations and thank you for listening.
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.
You’ve been listening to Hañsa Conversations, a podcast. Please follow Hañsa yoga on Instagram and Facebook. 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 Conversations and thank you for listening.