Opening Into Life

Vitally alive! A body that is breathing and pulsating with aliveness in every cell. Eyes clear and radiant. Glowing with a happiness that arises from an inner surety of being. Yoga makes you alive — fully alive. You have the capacity to live this way in every moment, and some work to do in order to get there. Too many people settle for less and walk around half-dead.

Can you really be fully alive in every moment? There are so many parts of the day that are difficult. Maybe you have a long commute in traffic every day. Put on some rousing music and sing along at the top of your lungs. Perhaps your challenge is at work: it is simply a dead-end job. Pour yourself into it and give it your best in every moment. Even if nothing changes on the outside, you will feel better for having put yourself forth fully.

If you are going through difficult things at home, open your heart even more. Love the people in your life even more! Even if you are facing the imminent death of someone you love, you can decide to celebrate their life with them. Say all the thank yous and remember all the times you have shared. Allow yourself to feel the joys and the pains all over again. Walk into grief with your eyes wide open, even when they are full of tears. Live! Allow yourself to feel, regardless of what is going on.

In the practice of Svaroopa® yoga, we use customized poses to open your spine. This releases the deepest layers of tension for the purpose of freeing your body from what makes it less alive. As you open up space in your spine, your internal organs are no longer subject to compression and begin to work better. Your nervous system, immune system, respiration and circulation all improve. Additionally, your mind and emotions become progressively more clear; you are able to live in the moment and carry less baggage from the past. The joy and love that is inherent in your being can rise from the Inner Source and spread into your life and the world, while your sense of self continues to deepen. All this makes you more and more alive — more and more fully alive. You can participate in every moment of life fully, even if it isn’t what you thought it would be.

When you have painful experiences, you don’t want to feel the pain, so you tune it out. You shut down on the inside, so that you don’t fully experience what is happening. This process of shutting down is one of creating physical tension. Your ability to feel the physical sensations of your body actually diminishes as you try to not feel what you are experiencing in your mind and emotions. Sometimes this is a valuable decision —especially as a child, your ability to shut out the painful stuff might be what got you through a tough time. Even if that was what you needed to do sometime in the past — that was the past. Your ability to look life fully in the face and to move into it with vigor is based on your current stature as an adult, and as a yogi.

As you continue the process of inner opening, you discover a deeper and greater sense of self. Then the stuff of life doesn’t slay you. Things come and go while you fit it into a larger perspective. The ups and downs of life become less all-possessing because you have a larger sense of self. It is not threatened by the momentary losses and it is not lost in the neon light of success. If you make a mistake today, you have a sense that there is a tomorrow coming in which you can try to rectify it. If you enjoy a great success today, you know that there will be something tomorrow that will humble you again, and you enjoy that too. Your inner sense of self is large enough to accommodate the ever-changing world along with other people’s opinions of you.

If you’re striving for perfection, you will be hard on everyone who isn’t perfect. That includes you and everyone around you. Yoga’s goal is Self-Realization, not outer perfection but discovering the perfect within you. This is the meaning of the ancient verse:

OM purnamadah purnamidam
purnat purnamudachyate
purnasya purnamadaya
purnameva vashishyate
OM shanti, shanti, shanti

Om. That is perfect,
This is perfect.
When perfection is taken from the perfect,
The perfect alone remains.
Om, peace, peace, peace

Swami Nirmalananda Saraswati leads Downingtown Yoga & Meditation Center and Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram in Downingtown PA. An American yogi, she is an inspiring teacher with a loving manner and a great sense of humor. Before becoming a swami (yoga monk), as Rama Berch, she served the yoga community as the founding president of Yoga Alliance. Traveling and teaching nationally and internationally, she is authorized to initiate people into deep meditation through Shaktipat, as did Swami Muktananda, her own Guru. The Ashram website features extensive Freebies, including articles and audio recordings on the principles of consciousness as taught by the sages of India, as well as how to apply them in your life today.