Open Awareness from an Integral Yoga perspective by Margarita Coca
I have an established daily yoga practice. I used to separate meditation from my other practices. This has changed and has made a significant difference in the depth of my practice as well as how I move through each day. For over a year, I have added entering into states of Open Awareness to my yoga practice. Instead of devoting a specific and separate time for meditation or OA, I’ve easily integrated it into my yoga practice. It came as a surprise that Open Awareness could be used to add a meditative layer to any other practice. Beginning my day with yoga and OA, I found I could go on with my day with an open disposition and a more loving attitude towards myself and others.
As a yoga teacher, I discovered that Open Awareness provided the perfect frame for my practice. Entering into the state of Open Awareness facilitated being more profoundly in touch with my body as it opened my awareness inward to deeper levels. I could feel my organs, my tendons, and muscles working together as one and in total alignment with my breathing. I can now listen to the more subtle needs of my body as well as to other people and even the potted plants and flowers in my yoga studio.
Open Awareness has helped me naturally move into the role of observer and has promoted greater compassion and kindness towards myself. For years, and perhaps as a by-product of my culture, I believed that self-care or self-love were mere acts of selfishness. The harsh judgments of myself are softening as a result of this new practice. I see myself as part of an interconnected web of being in which helping others and myself contributes to the well-being of all.
Without a doubt, my spiritual practice and my quality of life has been enhanced by Open Awareness. I still devote the same amount of time to meditation as before. Combining OA with my physical yoga practice facilitates entering a meditative state much faster. My body has become an entry point into the emotional realm and I am now aware of just how much energy was stuck inside of me and in need of release as I open to my vulnerabilities, observing my emotions without hiding from or defending against them. This new practice is my path for getting in touch with my inner wisdom and connecting to my spiritual intuition.
I have also found Open Awareness to be an invaluable asset in bringing together my personal practice, my yoga instruction, and interpersonal development. At the beginning of every class, I invite my yoga students to join me in stepping into an Open Awareness state. This simple move allows each of us to feel the interconnection between ourselves as we open to that awareness of the interconnectedness of being. My students report being able to focus on their body as epicenters with a deeper awareness of the effect of every move within their own body while at the same time enjoying a sense of interconnection with each other. I observe them having a friendlier attitude towards one another and an easier time attempting poses they had never tried before. They are more able to bring their attention easily to “here and now” and allow the mindful flow of their breath channeling Prana (the vital force in Sanskrit) into their entire system.
“Yoga” means becoming one with all. Through Open Awareness, they and I become conscious of that unifying state, letting go of a false perception that we are separate from others and our surroundings. In addition to the physical benefits, this is what yoga is all about.