“Step into your POWER”! A phrase that gets used a lot during a yoga class (hands up!), but what on earth does it mean? It makes it sound like power is some kind of suit you can just slap on when you’re feeling less than or compromised.
Asked by Featherbeats (a boutique gym in Woodford Green) to teach a Power Yoga class, I got all excited with flow transitions and movement, just buzzing with ideas…… But then I thought:
What is power?
What does it actually mean? For many years I taught Vinyasa, creating extremely challenging sequences. But when I reflect back on that time, the emphasis wasn’t on building power, but expending it. Since studying mixed movement arts at Budokon, Miami, my own personal definition of power has a clearer perspective.
Power is being totally present, right now, with the ability to feel your body and what it needs. There are never any problems, issues or dramas in the now due to the fact that many of them don’t exist in the first place. And when you have the ability to feel your body in the present moment, you understand the chemical reactions taking place underneath your skin and how you use them to address day to day experiences. I’ve had to go pretty deep recently with my emotions, as for the last 9 months we’ve basically been rebuilding our house, living on site in one room (with a 3 year old), surrounded by dust, chaos, drama, trials and tribulations and running out of money. Whilst in the car with my husband, discussing said building works, I realised how angry I got every time I thought about it. Rage would just overcome me. So I sat with this anger and watched it as it all consumed me. I felt its tension creep through my body like a spider, eating me up and making me feel brittle. In that moment, I realised that I address most life experiences/situations with anger. I get angry and then I action. I might be calm on the outside, but inside I’m on fire. As I let this anger travel, it turned into anxiety and panic, before settling into fear. Ha! Never would I think that I was afraid of anything, but there it was. Fear in all its glory.
But what was I afraid of?
It’s not so much of what I AM afraid of, but where that fear comes from. And it’s all part of your programming growing up as a child. Whenever we react, we return to the blueprint of our limbic system which was etched in our grey matter between the ages of roughly 2-7 yrs old. For me, life was pretty chaotic and stressful at that time and fear was something I picked up on as a way of understanding what was happening. Fear was also a tool of learning. It’s amazing how I can feel that little girl, gut wrenching, breathing rapid and tears stinging behind the eyes, as I remember and take a step back in time. Fear personified.
This realisation is where true power lays. Not in unconsciously moving in a way that leaves you feeling spent, heavy and dead because you’re not aware of whats going on under your skin. But by understanding your chemical processing, you become aware of how you are moving through life. You become aware of how you’re showing up.
So what happened at my first Power Yoga class? Well It didn’t involve 100 Sun Salutations. What it did involve was support, encouragement, physical challenge, direction and focus on the group moving with power and integrity. So much so, one commented that it was the best yoga class she had been to because she hadn’t had time to think of anything else. She was totally in her body, thinking about her body at all times.
That, my friends, is pure power.