Prana and Mathew Sanford

Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

Prana and Mathew Sanford

One might doubt whether someone in a wheelchair could deliver a most profound experience of yoga, yet that is exactly what happened during my week of studying with Matthew Sanford in his home studio, Mind-Body Solutions, Minneapolis.

As all dedicated yoga practitioners are destined to discover, how “yoga passes down thru time access to the magic energy of the spine. The spine is the organ of connection with life and the mind is the organ of disconnection,” according to Matthew. Patanjali said it this way; yoga is intended to reduce the fluctuations of the mind in order to reach union with the Self. My experience this past week tells me that union is to be found within the energy of the spine.

During our week together Matthew skillfully guided us to understand how grounding was necessary for expansion, and that the inner space of expansion was the relief we all seek regardless of our abilities or disabilities. How any action that comes from a sense of relief and direction is expressed as grace, and action coming from your effort, without a sense of direction, is registered by the body as a form of violence.

Again and again we investigated and practiced the reflex arc of grounding and expansion, sensing the space of the inner body and learning to follow the relief into expansion. In this way we were able to experience how prana follows consciousness revealing the energy of the subtle body with or without the use of breath.

Mathew prodded us to realize that presence is not something we intend but rather something we allow. So moving from relief to expansion and sensing new space opens us not only to the energy of our subtle body, but also to the vast presence of prana or life force that permeates space. Allowing that opening ushers us into the graceful and vulnerable state where we can both receive from “all that is”, as well as move outside our preconceived ideas and beliefs. To be open and vulnerable the conditions of safety must be met. The journey of safety and venerability are required if liberation of the spirit is to occur.

One key comment Matthew shared struck a personal chord in me, the invitation to remember that the space around our bodies is benevolent, which allows us to simply be in the space. Helping me embrace that each of us inhabit our own vortex of energy, and that we are containers of consciousness with subtle energy living in us and around us as space. A very comforting thought.

What about alignment? Mathew relflected beautifully the brilliance of BKS Iyengar, how alignment in the practice of yoga supports and defines space so we can feel and perceive the deep connection to our true nature through the energy of our spines, thus helping to fullfill the never ending promise of yoga.

I could go on, and no doubt in the days that unfold more of what I gained from studying with this remarkable man will be revealed. But for now, I will leave you with one last thought. “There is good stretching and bad stretching and then there is yoga.”

May our practice take us deep in an effortless and graceful way and may we know we are connected thru our spines to our true nature and each other.

Namaste. Lillah

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