Computer Work and Posture Part II – The semi Supine

Computer Work and Posture Part II

In part I of Computer Work and Posture, I discussed the importance of learning how to take care of ourselves while working in front of computers. Since computers are our new way of life, learning skills of body care and presence while using computers is vital. In order for us to have an upright posture, we need to first know how we define upright and what we mean by it. I suggested that we start thinking of upright less as a fixed straight position, and more as a balanced relationship between your neck, head and back.

A good way of becoming familiar with the relationship between your head, neck and back is to lay down in the semi supine pose with some books underneath your head for ten to fifteen minutes daily. The height of the books you will need underneath your head varies depending on both the shape and the present use of your body. It is best to let a trained Alexander Technique teacher help you determine the height of the books needed, but if you are not yet in contact with one you could use this video as a starting point.

The following instructions and mindful exercise are also available on audio here:

Instructions for the Semi Supine

Lay down on your back with your head placed on top of some books for support (5 to 8cm as a starting point). Put the soles of your feet on the floor with your knees facing upwards towards the ceiling. Place your hands on the belly with the elbows pointing outwards

Mindful exercise while you are in the semi supine.

First let yourself notice how your body feels in this position. For the moment, let your intention be to notice without wanting to change anything. Simply to become familiar with what is.

Some questions to help you in your process:

  • Is my back in contact with the floor? If not, which parts of my back are not touching the floor?

  • Are the parts not touching the floor similar on both the right and left side? Or is one side more lifted than the other?

  • Is it easy for me to have my knees pointing upwards? Or would my preference be to let them drop inwards towards each other or outwards?

  • Are the soles of my feet carrying equal weight? Or is the weight traveling more towards the inside or the outside of my soles of my feet?

  • Do my shoulder blades feel comfortable on the floor? Or are there places where they feel crammed.

At the end of this reflection mentally tell yourself, “this is the relationship that my neck, head and back have throughout the day”.

Now allow for some subtle changes to happen in your posture. Let your intention be to explore an easier relationship between your neck, head and back rather than to “fix” your relationship. As the word “fix” implies, the mentality associated to that is too static and creates a one fit all mentality. We wish for a subtle fluid relationship rather than a “fix” solution.

Some subtle changes you could invite:

  • You could gently lift your pelvis, place your hands on your upper back and caress the back downwards in the direction of the pelvis, while coming back down to the floor. Did that increase your back’s contact to the floor?Creating more back contact to the floor through the semi supine

 

  • You could gently lift your shoulder blades to allow for more space in the upper back, and then place them on the floor again. What change did this movement bring with regards to how much of your back is in contact with the floor?

 

  • If you feel that you wanted to bring the knees inwards, you could try placing your feet closer to each other.  If you feel that you wanted to let your knees go outwards, you could place the feet a bit further apart from each other. Do these changes to your feet make it easier for your knees to be pointing upwards without tension? Did this also bring a subtle change to the pathway of weight distribution in the soles of your feet?

 

  • If your shoulder blades feel cramped, you could gently lift your elbows and place them again on the floor. Did that bring a subtle change or do the shoulder blades still feel the same way?

Once you found the most comfortable place in this position, then do nothing. Allow for 10-15 minutes to pass where you simply enjoy doing nothing. Let gravity do the work for you.

Before you come out of the semi supine position, mentally tell yourself, “This now is the relationship that I invite my neck, head and back to have during my computer work”.

When to do this practice

It is good to do this practice before you begin with your computer work, once in the middle of your computer work and/or at the end of the work. It will help to find  your center during computer work. Do remember, however, that this is a starting point, a step one, if you will, for how to take care of yourself while using a computer.

Tune in for the next blog where we will investigate positions of mechanical advantage while working on the computer.

About the author

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses and workshops.  She is currently deepening her knowledge through Leslie  Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy course and training to become an Alexander Technique teacher.  Due to the corona virus, we are currently giving all yoga classes live online.

Mantra Singing Workshops with Inga

This workshop has been cancelled for precautionary reasons. We will reschedule it when our collective health allows!

 

 

We are hosting two beautiful Berlin mantra singing workshops with Inga Thórsdóttir!

“Through the voice and into the heart”

 

We warmly invite you to come to guided mantra singing workshops at English Yoga Berlin. Singing mantras is a tool for connection, healing, and lightening of our hearts. A way of freeing our thoughts and coming back to ourselves.

Inga Thórsdóttir gives mantra workshops in Berlin When:

Friday March 27th, 2020 19.00-21.00

Saturday March 28th, 2020 19.00 -21.00

Where:

our English Kreuzberg Yoga studio.

Mats, blankets, tea, cookies, blocks and chairs (for those who need them) are provided for at the studio.

Who is this workshop for:

This workshop is open to all people who like to sing (or listen), to meditate, practice yoga, or simply want to experience something new. Everyone is welcomed.

What does the workshop consist of:

Inga will guide us into an interactive mantra singing session with her harmonium. She will explain to us the meanings and intentions behind each mantra as we sing “through the voice and into the heart”.

About the teacher:

Inga Thórsdóttir gives mantra workshops in Berlin Inga Thórsdóttir is an Icelandic musician, born and raised in Reykjavik. In 2007 she moved to Freiburg im Breisgau to study piano. Since then she has lived in Germany, teaching piano, doing yoga and training in Alexander Technique and organizing events related to yoga and music. She got to know mantra singing during a yoga teacher training in Bali and since then she has offered regular mantra concerts. She also travels with Yoga Böttcher to yoga festivals and other events.  Soon she will also sing mantras on stage with Deva Premal and Miet. Inga loves to sing from the heart and take people on a heart-opening mantra trip!

Price:

25 Euro for one two hour workshop

Early registration discount: 5 € discount if you register before February 1st, 2020. The workshop is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than March 7th, 2020 after which 50% refund.  Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

If you are interested in participating, please contact Sibylle at:

Sibyllegfellner (at) yahoo (dot) de

At English Yoga Berlin, we offer Hatha Yoga classes with Pinelopi and Vinyasa yoga with Juli. Our yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcome to beginners. We also offer Berlin business yoga, and private yoga classes, as well as queer and trans prioritized community classes.

2.5hrs Workshop Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Yoga is 4000 years old. No, no it’s not! It’s from British colonial gymnastics! What? No, Hatha Yoga is 400,000 years old -from when the first group of people gathered consciously around fire. What yoga are you talking about? Yeah, there are so many – I even heard that there is the yoga of singing! Is that even a thing? Sure! But what does that have to do with anything? But yoga belongs to the Hindu religion, right? No, it’s also Buddhist and Jainist. No!… everyone says yoga has nothing to do with religion! But what about the Bhagavad Gita? It constantly uses the word yoga. That’s about a war! How un-spiritual! Is Yoga spiritual? Isn’t Tantra Yoga all about sex? And where does Hot Yoga fit into all of this anyway? I don’t think Patanjali would even consider that yoga. PataWHO??

Feeling confused about the history, meaning, goal and ethics of yoga?

workshop patanjali's yoga sutras Berlin

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

There are many types of yoga available out there. Depending on your definition and aim of  modern day yoga, its origins and meaning will vary. Many consider Patanjali and his ancient text The Yoga Sutras to be the “father of yoga”. In this 2.5 hour workshop,  we will explore the eight fold paths of classical yoga, giving special importance to the ethics and moral observances, as well as the practice of detachment.

When:  Saturday 3rd of November, 2018 14:30- 17.00

 

Where: At our English Yoga Berlin studio, Görlitzerstr. 39 – Kreuzberg Berlin

Who is this workshop for:

Anyone who would like to be introduced to the ancient text “Yoga Sutras”, Patanjali’s role in modern day yoga, and the eight fold path of yoga. This workshop is also good (but not only) for yoga teachers wishing to refresh or deepen their knowledge.

Format of workshop:

This workshop is given in the form of a talk with ten mini self-explorative guided meditations to make the material relevant to you and your every day life.

Please note:

  • Most of the talk will focus on:
    • Patanjali and the goal of yoga
    • the Yamas and Niyamas (ethics and moral observances)
    • Pratyahara (the practice of dettachment).
  • The talk will focus very briefly on:
    • Asanas (yogic postures)
    • Pranayama (breathing techniques)
      • As these are explained in the regular Hatha Yoga classes
  • The talk will briefly introduce the goals of:
    • Dharana (concentration)
    • Dhyana (meditation)
    • Samadhi (liberation)
      • as these subjects are too big for a 2.5 hr workshop.

About the teacher:

Pinelopi teaches Berlin Yoga workshopsBackground info: Beginning her yoga journey in 1999, Pinelopi completed a 600 hour Hatha Yoga Teacher and Vedantic Philosophy Training course over a period of two years in Valencia, Spain. This training is recognized by the Berufverband de Yogalehrenden in Deutschland (BDY), World Movement of Yoga and Ayurveda and the European Yoga Federation. For the last decade, she has worked as a full-time yoga teacher in Spain and in 2010 she founded English Yoga Berlin. Currently she is deepening her knowledge through Leslie Kaminoff’s Yoga Anatomy Course and David Moore’s “Injury-free yoga” applying the Alexander Technique postural alignment to all yoga poses.

Price: 30 Euro

 Early registration discount: 5 € discount if you register before October 2nd , 2018. The workshop is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than October 20th, after which 50% refund.  Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

To book a place please contact:

pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

 

Students that register in this workshop get a 20% discount on the Yamas and Niyama Module 1 course coming up in January 2019.

 

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses and workshops.

CHAKRA COURSE – kreuzberg Berlin

Self exploration through the language of Chakras

photo by Biel Morro

photo by Biel Morro

When:

Saturdays 10.30-12.00,  October 13th- December 15th, 2018

Where:

At our English Yoga Berlin studio, Görlitzerstr. 39 – Kreuzberg, Berlin.

What does this Chakra course offer?

The Chakras are energetic centers  positioned in our pranic bodies that ensure the flow of energy connecting our bodies, minds, and soul. Each chakra influences and is influenced by an area of the body, a way of thinking, and an emotion. In this course we will explore which emotions, way of thinking and body postures ensure an unobstructed flow of energy and vice versa.

In this nine week course we will learn the symbolic language of the chakras and how human behaviors affect its vibrations. We use the chakras as a map to help us self explore certain concepts like our tribes (as an archetype), creativity, self esteem, forgiveness, surrender, love, detachment and connection to our spirits.

The classes will be given in the format of an introduction, followed by self exploration through yoga poses and visualizations.

For a more detailed view of each class please click here.

Who:

Students with at least three months of  yoga experience. Maximum participants: 13

Price: 

180 Euro for nine classes

               Early registration discount:

 30 € discount if you register before September 15th , 2018. The course is refundable unless cancellation occurs later than October 1st, after which 50% refund.  Space is limited so register early before the spots fill up!

Please note:

  1. This course is  no substitute for therapy. The concepts explored are ones that most humans tend to struggle with on some level and can awaken some new views into your own psyche.  The purpose of the course is self-exploration and not psychological therapy.
  2. During this course we are not going to learn traditional methods of activating the chakras through Kundalini yoga. There will be no attempt to rise the Kundalini energy as this requires a lot of purification of the student beforehand and an experienced guru that deems the student to be ready.
  3. This class is recommended to students with previous yoga experience.

To book a place please contact:  pinelopi (at) englishyogaberlin (dot) com

 

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yogaprivate yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain, yoga courses and workshops.

Sit up straight

 

“Sit up straight” is a phrase we often use as yoga teachers. The very premise of the asanas in Hatha yoga is to create a body that is comfortable enough to sit still, with a straight back in order to meditate. That is why we practice asanas: to reduce the dis-ease in our body, so that our minds can quiet, and that we can experience Existence beyond our body and mind.

But what exactly does “sitting up straight” mean.  In my ten years as yoga teacher, I have seen that this instruction is up for a myriad of interpretations. Everyone tries to do what their perception of straight is. However, the perception is created from deeply ingrained patterns and beliefs and does not always end up bringing you to a more balanced posture. Many interpret “sit up straight” to mean that you should concave your back and look like a ballerina. Others interpret it as pushing your hips forward and lean back, like swaying in the wind. Often people use a lot of muscular energy to try and hold their perception of straight.

Now, the fact that this instruction can be interpreted so widely constitutes an actual problem for asanas. Sitting up straight is the pose that all other poses stem from. One could interpret it as the mother pose that gives birth to all other poses. So when we are confused with what this means, and see our students use immense amounts of energy to execute it, it distorts the rest of the practice. There is an important link missing in our teaching.

But unfortunately, most yoga teacher trainings do not prepare you for this kind of analysis. Mine included.

This is where the Alexander Technique can help immensely in modern day yoga.

Last July, I had the pleasure to host David Moore and Rossella Buono, in a six hour workshop at our studio in English Yoga Berlin. They brought the Alexander Technique into yoga and into my life. They provided me with the “missing link” I was needing in order to take my yoga teaching to the next level. I understood that certain students were getting stuck in yoga poses because they were losing sight of the overall process of coordination. The “missing link” was in understanding and coordinating the basic posture from which all other poses rise…. or in other words, understanding what “sit up straight” really means.

In a merely six hour workshop, I learned so much as a yoga teacher! I was so inspired by this workshop that I immediately starting applying my new knowledge to my every day yoga classes, seeing a real difference in students. Since then, I have been working on getting David and Rossella back to teach Berlin yoga teachers more about how these two practices can work together. I am delighted that in July 2018, practitioners and yoga teachers from all over the world will come to attend a six day workshop doing just that!

 For more information about the workshop please click here.

 

Pinelopi specializes in Hatha Yoga. Her yoga Kreuzberg Berlin classes are open for and welcoming to beginners. She offers Berlin business yoga, pregnancy yoga, and private yoga classes for people struggling with chronic pain. In mid-September she will be offering her first English speaking yoga and mindfulness retreat dedicated to presence.

6 day intensive Yoga and the Alexander technique workshop

yoga and the alexander technique david mooreWe here proudly present the next level in our Yoga and the Alexander Technique adventures: a six day intensive workshop!

In the past year we have hosted two workshops at our yoga studio with David Moore and Rossella Buono. The workshops were a great success. Everyone left feeling they learned something valuable to bring to their practice and are now asking for more. So here it is!

WHEN: July 18th to 23rd 2018

WHAT: A six day Yoga and the Alexander Technique workshop that will give us the opportunity to explore the basics of posture movement and breathing and give participants the skills to develop a personalised approach to their yoga practice based on their own unique characteristics and needs. The practice does not end on the yoga mat, but involves the development of our awareness to how we are living and moving in all aspects of our lives. Besides examining and refining yoga poses we will be looking at everyday activities as simple as walking, standing and sitting.

In this workshop we will explore:

  • Coordination and posture from an Alexander Technique perspective
  • Modifying yoga poses

  • Breathing and pranayama

  • Deepening observation skills

  • Meditation

  • Freeing the energy flow through the body

  • Identifying and overcoming habits

  • Doing and non-doing

  • Developing an individualised practice

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS:   David Moore (author of Smart Yoga: Apply the Alexander Technique to Enhance Your Practice, Prevent Injury, and Increase Body Awareness ) and Rossella Buono

FOR WHO IS THIS WORKSHOP:  It will be of particular interest to yoga teachers, Alexander Technique teachers and experienced practitioners in those disciplines. However, if you are not any of these things, but still wish to participate… you will be very welcomed!

WHERE: our English Kreuzberg Yoga studio

PRICE: €450 (€400 early-bird if paid before 19 May)

For more details please click here.

Returning to the Definition of Drishti

A Return to a Drishti Definition

Almost 5 years ago, we wrote a 2-part blog about what Drishti is and its meditative benefits. From it’s Sanskrit meaning, coming to a Drishti definition in English is complicated. But as we wrote in our blogs, we can put it simply as “the gaze” or “where one’s eyes rest.” Once again, I’d like to return to the topic, but this time from a practical point of view, both in a yoga class and outside of it.

Drishti is about focus

Drishti Definition

Drishti Definition

In an asana yoga class, your teacher may ask to use your Drishti point to keep you balanced and focused. In balancing poses, we can use this point as a focus point, a point that does not move, to help steady our inner ear – where our sense of balance is located. For those of us who feel queasy in bumpy traffic or on boats, we know that staring at the horizon line can help us to overcome motion sickness. Using this focal point in an asana class encourages our bodies to find a posture in that helps us feel steady. In this sense, Drishti is a very tangible and useful anatomical tool. Where your gaze rests is a pretty good indicator of the line your neck and spine are following.

When we turn our focus towards our navels, in Cat/Cow or in Downward Dog, for instance, we are turning our focus inwards, towards ourselves. And when we look out over our finger tips in twists or Warrior poses, we keep our central line from ourselves outwards towards a blurry outside world. It helps you to quiet the mind, increases concentration and relaxation, and allows your attention to flow into whatever you are focusing it on, yourself and your connection / support to the world. It helps us to not look around and get distracted by the other people practicing in the room, which for some of us can turn to negative thoughts if we compare ourselves and how we do the postures, or worry if we are doing them “right.”

 

Another important subtlety in the concept of Drishti is in the different ways of gazing. This is a variation on the practice of detachment but specifically, a Drishti can be described as ´soft´, ´pointed´, ´wide´, ´gentle´, etc. Again, there are very practical reasons for this. Even though Patanjali never gazed at a computer screen, he could imagine what hours of single distance, harsh gazing can do to your eyes. Varied distances of Drishti, as well as varying degrees of hardness or staring in the postures, helps to exercise the optical nerves and reduce the strain that can produce tension headaches.

Early yogis and yoginis realized that the quality with which you observe something radiates through your body. Your body naturally becomes more tense and rigid, or soft and relaxed, depending on how you are looking at something. A soft Drishti promotes internal reflection, relaxation, meditation. A harder one pushes the focus externally. In our contemporary world, we often find our attention being pulled in multiple directions at once, our eyes have no time to rest on anything. A regular yoga practice can help train us to focus ourselves, but only when we take it outside of the yoga studio, do we feel the real benefits. A Drishti point can to calm our thoughts, reduce chatter and anxiety, allow our breath to flow freely, and give us something to dream about other than who posted what on Facebook.

So, the next time you find your eyes wandering, watch your mind and body, and see if you can notice how your Drishti affects you, notice how you feel when you let your eyes rest on something that you don’t normally allow them – give some attention to that plant on your windowsill, follow the path of a beetle in the sand, notice what the squirrels are doing in the tree in your yard. And next time you practice yoga, play with your gaze point and see how it affects your practice and your life.

One of our main goals in our Kreuzberg Berlin yoga classes is to educate people about the benefits of our practice. We believe that by making yourself more centered and focused you are better equipped to make an impact in the world around you. For more info about our Hatha Yoga in Berlin or Vinyasa Yoga, check out our yoga in English schedule.

Bring the air to your left little toe

Bring the air to your left little toe. How?

Yoga teaching language on breathing

photo by Jordan Whitt

Since I started Leslie Kaminoff‘s Yoga Anatomy course I’ve been exploring some of the teaching language we use in yoga. I remember being in some really beautiful yoga classes and hearing the teacher say “bring the air into” the part of the body we are stretching at that moment. I found it to be a very helpful remark, although I had no idea how one can literally do that. I always took it as a metaphoric remark which meant to bring my consciousness to a specific part of my body. Sometimes I would imagine a little mouth on ie. my left toe and visualize it taking in air while expanding and taking out air while contracting. And funnily enough, it would always bring energy to that part of the body, which I noticed as a feeling of heat or a tinkling feeling.

The truth be told is that you can’t actually consciously bring the air into your left toe. You can bring it only into your lungs. Your circulation system will do the rest for you. But you can’t consciously do that. You can bring your attention, awareness, consciousness to your left toe…but not the oxygen exchange by simply thinking of it.

So what do those yoga teachers mean when they use such language?

According to Leslie Kaminoff, it is important to make a distinction between bringing air into your body and experiencing the breath. The air comes only into your lungs where all gas exchange happens. Breath, on the other hand, can be defined as the shape change of the body when this gas exchange in the lungs occur. When you breathe, your body changes shape: ie. your rib cage expands or contracts, your belly moves, your pelvic diaphragm follows. When you are focused enough you can notice this change in your body shape also in the less obvious places such as your neck, throat, forehead, pelvic floor, legs. This is what the breath is. A change in shape in your body.

When breath is seen in this way, then comments such as “Bring your breath to your pelvic floor” make sense again. They mean become aware of the shape change that is occurring in your pelvic floor as a result of your breathing. Or they could even mean to consciously create shape change in your pelvic floor while you breathe.

Is this just a bunch of semantics? Maybe. But I also believe that when the breath is seen in this way, then you can also notice what kind of breathing patterns you have. Does your body always change shape in the exact same way, potentially indicating being stuck in a breathing pattern? Do you have the freedom to breathe in many different ways depending on what situation you find yourself? Our breath is supposed to be a free changing movement that reflects both our biologies and biographies. It is a movement that is created both as a result of our lives, and can also be consciously controlled, released, or changed.

Pinelopi is a sivananda Yoga teacher based in Berlin. She specializes in Hatha Yoga, Pregnancy Yoga, yoga for beginners and business yoga.

What is Tantric Meditation?

Meditation is a means to train the mind. By repeating certain mental exercises —like fixing the attention on one point for awhile, or experiencing the whole body— the mind becomes more able to do those things. Just like when we train a muscle: Repeat the action and you get better at it. looking

From another perspective, meditation is a means to clear the mind of unconscious patterns and complexes. By entering the meditative state, we allow repressed memories and traumas to surface and dissipate, while we remain as the passive observers of this process.

What is so special about the Tantric meditation? Tantra doesn’t try to control the tendencies of the mind or to lead the mind in one direction or another. It allows anything that comes-up in the mind to fully express itself. We devote ourselves to whatever we experience, and use it as a tool in our meditation. We learn to be with whatever is happening without struggling, reacting or getting overwhelmed by it.

For a very clear example, see my post A Tantric Way to Dealing with Pain

Tantra documents a myriad of different meditations, for every temperament or life situation. Some of the most potent ones are Antar Mauna, Trataka and Yoga Nidra; which have themselves countless variations.  In these meditations you remain still, while devoting yourself to different experiences (a fixed point, the sense impressions, certain visualizations, etc.).  Their effects can not easily be summarized, but include: greater awareness and intuition, more calm and contentment, higher ability to concentrate, etc.

From Tantra we also receive the Kundalini meditation, which don’t so much work with the mind, but with the inner energy (prana) that animates body and mind. These meditations make us aware of pranic energy and of the chakras, where this energy is concentrated.  Two of the main energy meditations are Source of Energy and Ajapa Japa, in which you combine breath, concentration and visualization to connect with, and influence, our subtle energy flows.

Pedro teaches Tantra Yoga and Meditation at English Yoga Berlin.  He will be teaching the 10-Week Meditation Course: Clarity and Energy, where one has the opportunity to learn the meditations mentioned in this post, and to be guided step by step into creating their own meditation practice.

A Tantric Way of Dealing with Pain

Does it hurt?  Can you do something to get rid of the pain?  No?  No problem.

You can remain content and relaxed in the midst of any experience. Including pain, sorrow, fear, or anger. Hang on… nobody said it’s easy, but we categorically say that it is possible. And not only that, it is possible for everyone.

rocksOne way I know of dealing with pain is amazingly simple: To directly experience what is happening, in a steady and concentrated way. In other words, to meditate on the source of the experience.

I have been using the Tantric meditations to deal with chronic pain for years. And, although the pain hasn’t entirely gone away, a lot of the side effects (mental anguish, fear, or other physical tensions) have disappeared.  When my knee hurts I can accept it and remain relaxed, so it doesn’t cause me any real disturbance.

Of course, if you don’t know the cause of a pain, it’s best that you seek prompt medical advice. But, if the pain is already there, you might as well meditate on it on your way to the doctor.

You will find that many pains actually disappear when you experience them in this way. Or the quality or intensity of the pain may change. Or it may move, or get smaller.

How does one do it? Simply by going to the place of the disturbance. Locate it physically with your mind, and then experience it with curious detachment. Experience it, not like you want it to go away, but like you want to know about it. Where is the center of this sensation? How big is this area? Explore it like an objective investigator; or watch it like you watch a film.

We experiment with this method during the Tantric Tuesdays at KiKi, for example, feeling a tension during a yoga pose.  We also practice some of the meditations that (like Antar Mauna) cultivate this ability of detached experience, or (like Tratak) teach the mind to concentrate intensely on one point.

I recently visited a friend, who’s also been coming to my guided moments.  I found her in a desperate state due to an intense headache.  Although she has only practiced for a few months, she has been very consistent and regular, so I felt that the meditative approach would help.  Below I transcribe her impressions of what happened next, written the day after.

I woke up with pressure in the head. Something very usual for me since I´m eight years old. Lucky that since I´m a teenager I can take medicine against it. And I do, immediately, with the first signs of pain. So hard is it for me to resist the pressure, the burning and stinging at my forehead. So with 3 pills per day I get over it and stay 2-3 days without pain, and can continue my daily life …. Therefore, I always have medicine in my handbag. Always!

 

But this morning I received a lovely massage from caring hands and I felt I din’’t want to swallow the pill. The pain got worse and then my stomach rebelled, so it was too late to take a pill. Ohhh I wanted to hit my head against the wall, like I did as girl, when the pain was unbearable.

 

I actually do not remember how I got on the chair in my room. I just remember this voice guiding me into my body, the stillness inside…. Ohh the throbbing got so heavy.. But I trusted and followed the guidance into the movement of my breath. I felt how my body was relaxing little by little, and at the same time the pain in my head became more intense. And I was guided directly into this pain. I felt the pain coming in waves and my tired body, leaning forward devoting to these waves. There was only pain and heaviness, and it felt eternal. I was awake and at the same time like sleeping, sitting on the chair. Until… Hari Om Tat Sat.

 

I just observed how my body laid down on the bed beside the chair. When I woke up, my head was completely free! I could not believe it, and noticed how I started to search for the pain. But quickly I dropped this idea and enjoyed my day.

 

Kathi hasn’t had any more headaches in the two weeks since this happened.  But she claims to be eagerly awaiting for another episode, so she can try this method again.  She also says that this experience has completely changed the way she approaches any pain or unpleasant feelings:  Now she meets them as their curious explorer, rather than as their victim.

On another post, we will write about the mechanisms that make this shift in the experience of pain possible.  For now, just take our word that it works.  Or come and practice it yourself to find-out.

Pedro teaches Tantra yoga and meditation at English Yoga Berlin.