In the tradition of yoga that I am studying, there is a lot of emphasis on good digestion. We talk about the five vayu-s (vayu translates to "wind" in English): prana (energy coming in), apana (waste going out), vyana (circulation), udana (communication) and samana (digestion). Even as these vayu-s are specific and separate, they are all connected with each one affecting the others. If your prana is blocked, you won't have good apana or vyana, which affects your udana and samana. You get the picture. Each one needs to be in balance so that they are all working together in a healthy way. It is a way of thinking about our bodies and about how we interact with everything we encounter in the world. It also is a way of understanding things when something is not functioning well - it helps us figure out where the problem comes from and gives us an idea of how to change the conditions that are causing it.
One of the cool things about this whole digestion process is that it is happening - right now! - without needing to think about it. I mean, you can think about it and affect it and consciously take steps to alter it but even if you don't do that, things are happening.
The vayu concept is a beautiful metaphor and it is not a metaphor at all because you can see it in yourself if you take a look - right now!
I have been thinking a lot about this process lately. The training in Nashville at the end of June was deliberately designed to stir things up for us. We have to experience for ourselves the effects of these practices in order to be able to offer them to others - just as in any other therapeutic training. Perhaps what is different about this training is that it is done very consciously on so many levels. We can watch it all happen: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It's happening and we are watching it happen. Noticing it and deliberately making note of it. The process isn't always clear, however. That is the edge that we work - you can only see as much as you see and the rest is dark. Until it isn't dark anymore.
I was talking with my mentor teacher about my practice(s) and my ongoing questions about why I stay devoted to Ashtanga (this is NOT seen as a good thing in this tradition) and how my Zen practice fits into the whole picture. It can get pretty murky and dark and complicated in my head. Stuff happened in Nashville around these areas and I was trying to articulate how it was feeling to me at this point. After I spoke for a bit, she said to me, "You don't need me to give you an asana practice - you can do that yourself. In fact, the whole thing is for you to do for yourself. You just need to say yes to it. That's the whole practice. You have to say Yes."
Once again, it all comes back to this.