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In Spirit: How can I be in the present moment during my yoga practice?

Question: The mind seeks to escape from the present moment all the time. Do you think these moments of evasion subside when we are not awaiting an indication of the next action?

M.R.: One cannot stay in the presence voluntarily. It is the presence that takes over you, you can not chase after it. During the practice, when you realize that you are waiting for the next instruction, you are finally becoming aware that you were not present. You then realize that you are in a projection of what is yet to come. When you realize that, when you become aware of yourself waiting, then you are in the present moment. Can you see the mechanism?

When I see that I am not present, that means that I am present to this non-presence, otherwise I would not be able to become aware of it. This experience brings me back to the present moment. However, when I think I am in the present moment, this means that I am in the mind, and the mind is never in the present moment. When you are connected to the moment, you do not know it. When you “know” it, that means that you have left it. The practice that we propose here is based on this principle: it is an invitation to experience these moments, watching without any commentary as I escape the presence all the time. I am in the after, in the later, in the expectation. The whole practice is oriented in a way that one can see this mechanism and then return to presence, through that vision that emerges from direct experience.

When I am in a yoga posture, that I push, and push, and push harder… at some point I realize that I am in the projection that if I go further, I will achieve something. I am in a sort of expectation of the ‘after’. When I no longer need to push, each moment of the action of the posture is sufficient in itself. For example, when I lift my arms, I do not expect to get to the end. I am only referring myself to the sensibility and not the image of the posture, and in that sensibility, each micro-movement becomes an end in itself. Each micro-movement exists in itself. In that case, there is no longer a beginning of the posture. There’s no longer a beginning and neither there is an end as well.

Someone watching from outside would surely tell you “Oh, but I saw it! You began the posture and then you finished it.” But we do not care about that. That’s not important for us. What’s important is what you feel. The only reality is the sensation. You know very well that in your immobility, the posture was already being prepared within you, you could feel the movement sparkling inside and then, suddenly, the movement is embodied and you start lifting your arms. When it stops, the movement has not ended, you can feel the tactility of the arms and the fingertips continuing the movement through the space. You can sense how your chest spreads out through space, how your hips expand through the ground. The movement is your only guide.

Therefore, when you abide in that sensibility, there cannot be an expectation for the next posture, since your yoga session is no longer a multitude of postures following one another: you experience it as one single posture. It is not possible to become more present by trying to be more present. Only this profound way of sensing will allow the presence to pervade you. 

For those who had the opportunity to participate in this week’s yoga session, maintain this presence from today’s practice. Not voluntarily, of course. Sit on your yoga mat and see what comes up, what presents itself. On the tactile level, the yoga session we just did keeps on living in the atmosphere until we meet again next week. Do not hesitate to keep a piece of paper by your side during your practice,  on which you can write questions or observations that emerge spontaneously.

Mariette teaches classes on Zoom to practice yoga, meditation and offer a space for discussion. This form of yoga is inspired by the Kashmiri tradition of northern India which emphasizes the discovery of sensation, in order to dissolve tensions in the body that are created by memory. These meetings allow the participants to explore the connection between the practice and its application in day-to-day life. For more information about the sessions, visit yoginibhuh.com.

Poto credit:

Photo #1,4, 7, 8: by Stéphane Desmeules, extracted from the asana plates for the book Corps de Vibration, by Éric Baret.

Photo #2, 3, 5, 6: by Stéphane Desmeules, Asanas in Inde, 2017.

Photo #9 : by Stéphane Desmeules, series of yoga classes at the Never Apart centre.

Photo #10: Image#10: yoga session on Zoom with Mariette Raina, organized by Pedro Lemme

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