I was listening to an interview with a well respected teacher from the United States of America, recently. In it she talked about the depression she suffered as a younger woman and how when she found yoga, and more particularly, when she met Iyengar himself and began practising Iyengar yoga that she began to notice that at the end of a class the “emptiness” she had felt previously had been replaced by a feeling of “fullness” . It was this feeling “full” that kept her coming back, kept her practising, she recalls.
I thought it was an interesting way to express it.
When I was a kid I remember being reprimanded for being ‘too full’ of myself. This was something that made me feel ashamed because what was implied was that I had let my ego get inflated. A friend of mine Greg, made a little pamphlet at art school called ‘ninety neatly written lies’. The title was misleading since I can’t recall there being any lies within it but he came up with what would have been the perfect response to my telling off - lie number nine declared proudly ‘’I am, quite literally, full of myself’.
Mostly when we talk about feeling full it is after a hearty meal. It can be a lovely feeling but there is always the danger that we could over indulge. We have reached our limit and one more bite could bring us into a state of over-indulgence, a very unpleasant feeling!!
Feeling full in yoga terms though doesn’t bring any risk of that over-indulgence and the feelings of discomfort associated with that, it is exactly the opposite. Feeling full in Yoga makes every cell of our body vibrate with pure bliss. The deeper we go the fuller we feel.
The teacher who has been most influential on me over the last decade or so has been Christian Pisano, a Frenchman whose accent was so strong when I first started going to his workshops that I would really have to concentrate to hear what he was saying. The things that he said though really had a profound effect on me (maybe,in part, because I was listening so fully).
He introduced me to a text called the “Vijnana Bhairav Tantra” which is laid out as a discourse between the god Shiva and his consort Shakti. It was originally part of an oral tradition chanted in sanskrit and only written down in around 800AD. Some describe it as an early guide to the practice of Yoga and meditation but there are certainly no ‘step by step’ methods or descriptions of poses . .
I don’t have my copy with me here in Marseille but some of the ‘slokas’ are so familiar to me that I will attempt to write them here;
‘Contemplate on the skin of the body as a mere divider between the infinite space inside and the infinite space outside’
‘Meditate on the universe or one’s own body as being filled with pure bliss’
These particular slokas come toward the end of the text but to me they seem to be very akin to that idea of feeling ‘full’
That’s the kind of full I want to feel. That’s what takes me back to my mat day after day . . . .
If you are around in London over the festive season why not join me for my Christmas intensive at Yogahome and explore for yourself . . . . .