I can’t read minds but after 16 years of teaching yoga I have become pretty adept at reading bodies which often gives the same kind of insight, especially everything I need to know to match the needs of my yoga students.
While I’m teaching a yoga class, I can see the open hearted practitioner manifesting the courage they are demonstrating in their daily life. I can see the slumped shoulders of the practitioner who feels burdened by the weight of the world or who is guarding a broken heart. By reading bodies, I can see those who are rigid in their thinking and those who are open, those who are focused and those who distracted. I can see those who are enjoying class and those who are counting the minutes ‘til it’s done.
What is truly phenomenal is to feel an entire class move and breathe collectively. In those magical moments, the entire class feels like it shares the same body and mind. Truly that is the oneness of yoga. In those moments I no longer feel that I’m leading the class but that the class is leading me and all of us.
This body/mind connection is perhaps more powerful than we imagine. The same way that your mind affects your body, you can reverse engineer this concept so that by changing the shape of your body, you can change the state of your mind. In yoga practice you adopt the shape of a warrior to find the powerful warrior inside of you that knows how to conquer whatever stands before you, even if you don’t feel particularly powerful. You become the eagle to find your focus when you are feeling unclear. You morph into the dog to celebrate playfulness and groundedness when you might be feeling untethered and all business. You yield in child’s pose to practice humility and submission when you might be experiencing a power struggle. No wonder we walk away from a yoga class feeling like the practice has enlivened all those parts of us that we knew were there but were maybe resting dormant.
There is a simple magic in the practice of incorporating your body into process of molding your mind. Romantic poet William Blake used to spend weeks laboring over copperplate etchings of the subjects of his poetry so that when it came time to write the poem, it was already worked out in his head. There is something about adopting a sort of craft in order to tap into the intelligence which is larger than only mind and which hold the body/mind intelligence.
The next time that you need to make a decision, work through a problem, or tap your creativity, try going on a walk, taking a yoga class, or dancing for a moment to dance. Wallace Stevens once said, “Perhaps the truth depends upon a walk around the lake.” There’s deep wisdom in your connection to body and mind.
Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and currently lives in Southern France. When he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats to places like Tuscany and France , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program