Flow asked Angela Cerkevich, a Doctor of Psychology and a long time yoga teacher at Flow some questions about the mind body connection and some self-care tips. Check out her answers below!
What is something about the mind body connection that you find helpful to your student's experiences?
We can't do two things at one time. So when we are feeling into our bodies, thinking subsides. This means that the body is an infinite resource and a direct conduit to what IS. This is the great thing about the early stages of an asana practice: it feels great because we get a break from the bouncing around of the mind. Unfortunately, we become habituated to the asana and unless we are willing to dive into more subtle sensations and link the breath with the movement, we may eventually find ourselves disappointed in our asana practice because it doesn't feel as revolutionary as it first did. The trick is to return to feeling and sensation again and again and again. The sensation of the eyes, the feeling of the tongue, the sensation of the webbing of the toes. The mind is a time traveler, but the body exists only in the present. Eventually, we expand our capacity to experience thinking and sensing at the same time, but we are no longer engaging in the thinking as much because we are abiding in what IS. To sum: when in doubt, feel and feel and feel again. Feeling into the sensations of the body, changes patterns in the brain and results in greater ease, calm, and increased awareness of both the more subtle emotions and thought patterns and the more easily felt gross sensations of the body.
What are some of your favorite self care tips?
Variety. I don't get to rigid about a particular routine or practice. Sometimes that means I go to a spin class, other times that means I go for a walk in the woods and other times that means laying on the couch with my cats. Having flexibility and variety in my self care means I'm more likely to be really present enough to enjoy it.
What is your one piece of advice for folks for folks who are seeking a deeper connection to understand themselves?
There is nothing to fix. There is only recognizing what you already are. There is only recognizing what already IS. There is no need to "cultivate" more gratitude or to practice a particular niayama to purify. Gratitude is already present. Just like loving-kindness, peace, and open-ness, gratitude is what we already are made of. We just misperceive that something is wrong and that we need to be better, fix ourselves, or do something different like have more gratitude to be happy. This is a great problem with practices: having a practice that we are attached to may cause us to forget that we are actually already complete and that there is nothing about us that needs fixing. Similarly, we don't need to purify to experience our perfection. Cleansing practices may assist in the process of recognizing our true nature, but they are not a magic bullet; they are not guaranteed. All practices work sometimes and maybe they even work for years, but they don't work all the time and because the practices of niyamas or asana or japa don't work all the time it's even more important that we don't rely on them. The only thing we can really know is our perfection in this moment and that particular form of KNOWING is a felt sense rather than a thinking process. As for practices, if they bring you joy, enhance your life, give you hope, change your mood, then there is no reason not to do them either. Just remember the practices a have a purpose and once that purpose is met, there is no longer a need for them.
Meet Angela on the mat Mondays for Hatha Yoga at 6pm and Yoga Nidra at 715.