Why I prefer “sexual” to “creative” for the wild energy in yoga.

Nobel of the blog, Yoga in the Dragon’s Den wrote a post yesterday (Practice Report, Confessions of a Yogic Prude) that included a response to my article at Elephant Journal (The Sex of Yoga and Joy of Everyday Life). A wonderful conversation also ensued on his blog.

He expressed a difficulty with the word “sexual” to describe the energy in yoga, preferring “creative” to describe this energy. And I think that you can use this word to describe it, but the word “sexual” is more accurate for what I was trying to describe in the post at Elephant.

In my lexicon the word “creative” has largely sold out. I received an art education, and went out into the world of creative professionals whose job it is to make surprising products that sell, or to slap a new spin on a classic product (of course there is so much more to it). ‘Creative’ became something you offer outward for sale.

Sex energy is carnal and embodied, “creative” energy much less so in my experience of the word. Sex energy is vibrant and personal, you feel it.

Sex gets our attention, for sure, but might there be a good reason for this beyond the survival of our species? I think that there might be a good reason that sex grabs our attention, and that we largely try to minimize its presence in life to try to fit in with how we think we are supposed to be in different situations.

Sex energy is still private and personal. Even if you see pictures of sex your sex is still your personal experience. Sex energy is still free, while creative energy is often harnessed to make a product. So is sex creative energy? Yes. However what sexual energy represents in terms of wildness and freedom more accurately describes what I want to say about yoga.

Embodied yoga energy is wild and free; it cannot be contained by a mental image, and has something to teach us. Similar to sex.

I like OvO’s comment on the Yoga Dragon Den post:

“Mulabandha… sexual?

My sense of MB (which has a lot to do with lifting the cervix, all this anu-talk around Mysore this week notwithstanding) is that yes, sexual. But only rarely in the “gotta get off” sense… and potentially, after that bringing shakti up to shiva stuff has really happened, sexual in a general ecstatic (or, like you said, creative) sense.”

Here’s a picture of where this “lifting the cervix” stuff from OvO’s comment happens in yoga from Moola Bandha, The Master Key, by Swami Buddhananda:

Female Moola Bandha from 'Moola Bandha, The Master Key'

Looks like a sexual energy hot-spot to me. (Location 2 is mulabandha; according to this book it is at the cervix, between the vagina and womb.)

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The Pelvic Palace

Hara (self-energizing earth centre within the pelvic bowl) is the rock on which we build the temple of the body. Those who are centered in the chest have too much ego and those who are centered in the head have too much intellect. The chest and head must rest on and be stabilized in the center of gravity.
~ Dona Holleman, Centering Down

As I’ve been walking around recently, and tuning into the energy of my pelvis it has taken me into some new experiences of myself.

The pelvis is a cozy, nurturing and grounding place. (The picture of the pelvis below is one I colored in about 10 years ago from The Anatomy Coloring Book.)
Pelvis
The buddha’s childhood was set in a palace. His early life was set up so that he would not know the suffering of the people who lived outside the palace walls. The palace of the buddha’s childhood was protected.

This is how I feel about the consciousness of the pelvis—protected and safe. Maybe this is why babies like to hang out there before they are born. It is a nice place.

Over the last month or so I have been dealing with some challenges that certainly could be psychologically destabilizing—and I have had my moments, believe me. You know, things like a difficult financial awakening, a health scare (I’m fine, though.), and I think that it’s accurate to say that I’ve had a realization regarding ineptitude in love.

So that’s challenges in:
Love + Finances + Health = A total challenge to the core.

As I’ve been walking around with this awareness, I have felt strangely safe in my pelvic palace. Good feelings emanate even as I am walking on what would seem to be unsure ground. I feel more confident than I ever remember feeling.

And I think it’s related to feeling safe in the awareness of my pelvic palace (as well as the many beautiful friends I meet with throughout the course of my days who give me courage.). As I walk around it’s almost as if my pelvis invisibly expands to contain my heart and mind, so they too, might rest in the stable calm of the pelvis.

And I just believe that things are going to work out. I will resolve my financial problem. I will probably live for a very long time. And I will love (a personal love) again.

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The Yoga of Money and Things.

Just like it’s important to know where your feet are in yoga, it is also important to know where your money is and things are in your life.

There was a time when I thought that I was learning specific techniques and practices in yoga to transport my mind to a happy place, which yoga tends to do very well for me. So my goal was to go to that special experience and as I became a teacher to also teach others about this. This is a great option to mundane existence, I realized. Yoga offers effective technique to change your state of mind and feel good in the body.

And now I’m thinking that this is shallow yoga. Barely a taste…

Because I am currently addressing challenges in what I once might have called “mundane life”… I don’t think I had much respect for daily experiences like paying bills and cleaning the house, except when it had to do with yoga. The outside world was where my hopes lived, for the most part, as well as the inner bliss of yoga. But that median place of home and finances went neglected.

But now, my yoga appears to be precisely in my home and personal finances. I am beginning to see hope there.

Hope can come during the darkest time. For example when the house is at its most disorganized, is when every little thing done makes a big difference.

I’m thinking that acknowledging my limitations will open up options for me. Similar to the way knowing my feet opens up potential for balance, understanding financial parameters might also help to stabilize a situation.

And this connects with the earthly concerns symbolically associated with the Muladhara chakra, like security, food, shelter, and money, essential elements of living in a city today.

So it’s funny how my research project is really at the heart of my life right now. And it is yoga.

Through the Mula lens, my apartment is spiritual, as is my money because these form the base for my life expression, just like Muladhara chakra forms the metaphoric and experiential base for my body’s energy.

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Mulabandha Wants Breakfast!

Owl Breakfast

You have to serve your mulabandha. Oh, mulabandha, what can I do for you today? I would like breakfast. So you get mulabandha breakfast. Now I would like you to write a letter…You don’t do mulabandha. Just like if you’re a servant in a palace, you don’t do the king or queen. Well, you do, but it has a different meaning. You attend to mulabandha. You sit there and feel the glow. Her manifestation is so glorious that your mind is completely stunned. You don’t want to get entangled with that. It’s like getting involved with a movie star. That’s never a good idea.
~ Neal Pollack, quoting Richard Freeman in the post, To Serve Mulabandha.

Mulabandha Wants Breakfast!

I think that this is how it is. When a core issue is challenged: this is when we are more likely to react in a way that is out of our conscious control.

And mulabandha, situated as it is at the base and core of our bodies, and symbolically representing the root of all of our actions is in a position to tell us things about ourselves, rather than the other way around.

So I think, at this moment, that it’s best to practice with this attitude. And perhaps when attempting to use muscular control to hold mulabandha, it should be just that: making a cradle to hold the beautiful light of essence, rather than trying to actually control this wild energy at the origin of impulses.

This is hard for me because I am a control freak. Like, maybe I think that it’s dinner time when mulabandha wants breakfast. In other words, I think that my mind wants to think it is further along than it is, as if my mind really knows what is best for me. But, I suspect that this world has lessons for me that I need to be ready to embrace, even though difficult.

I suspect that I don’t even understand the flavor of my lunch, and I somehow think that I’m ready to be seated at the finest table for my dinner—sounds like a false thought.

Maybe it’s just breakfast time. (I actually love breakfast.)

 

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Rooting and Uprooting.


Ganesha is a Hindu deity, recognizable by the head of an elephant. According to Moola Bandha, The Master Key by Swami Buddhananda, “The deva, male aspect of mooladhara, is Ganesha.”

Ganesha is known as the “remover of obstacles” and “lord of beginnings.” And only now am I beginning to appreciate the uprooting aspect of getting rooted.

I think when I started this project I was focusing more on connecting with the foundations of my body as a way to remain steady and secure within myself. And this can certainly be an outcome of this kind of inquiry, to be sure.

But another thing that can happen is that I could discover that what has rooted in my foundation is not what should really be growing there. In that case some uprooting would be necessary.

This body is called the field. He who knows this is called the knower of the field.
~Bhagavad Gita

What if I were to discover that fear had been at the root of actions that have become deeply established as habit? I think I might need a spiritual roto-rooter!

Enter Ganesha, remover of obstacles—whatever that means…

I used to think that Ganesha might symbolically represent removing what seems to be getting in the way of what I want. But from where I am standing in this moment, imagining Ganesha hangin’ out at the symbolic origin of all action, I think that what Ganesha represents might be much more awesome than removing a woman from the man of my dreams, or removing the glass barrier between me and that cookie I want to eat (as petty examples).

If Ganesha represents the potential to change the very birth-place of actions, wow! That is huge.

I have heard that it is possible to change anything that has been learned (conditionings). A bad habit that has been repeated many times, may not be easy to change, but it can be done.

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Inner Sanctum of the Pelvis

The pelvis contains an inner sanctum, I think. It is the home of ecstatic life-producing energy that participates in literally creating (and birthing) other lives, and supporting and inspiring the life of the being whose pelvis it is. It is a marvelous place! …the pelvic portal.

I’m thinking about how to best represent the Pubococcygeus, its friendly handle being “the PC muscle”. This is a muscle (or muscle pair made of two pubococcygei muscles that together make a “thick fibromuscular layer”) that Richard Freeman regularly referred to in his recent workshop at Yogaview in Chicago.

I have been finding the activation of this muscular connection between the coccyx, or tailbone (that lives just above the anus) and the pubis (bony place at the base of the torso in the front) to be so helpful. Learning to communicate about this helpful engagement in yoga is interesting because it happens right in the crotch!

Recently, when I was talking to a group of yoga student friends I’ve known for a while about activating the pc muscle, one of them gleefully exclaimed “kegels” and it’s true: pc muscles are a part of kegels. PC muscles help to control urine flow (stop it from flowing) and play a part in orgasms.

And this is where things can seem to get tricky. We’re not usually talking about excreting and orgasms in yoga class, and these are integral parts of pelvic function, as well as important aspects of having a healthy body and joyful life.

So, what to do?

I think the answer is to embrace the truth! …nothing to be ashamed of! The answer is to accept and integrate all aspects of our selves into conscious awareness.

Another part of the answer has to do with having sensitivity. The pelvis in yoga brings up conversations that we may not be accustomed to having in public places. And that’s okay. We don’t necessarily need to talk about our pelvises all of the time, either.

There is a time and a place for everything!

And how to talk about and better understand the workings of this pelvic inner sanctum is something that I am actively cultivating: this is the time and the place for me!

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Why Mula Stars are so Exciting and Scary

My discovery of Mula stars in Vedic astrology was so exciting because I had been thinking of mula like a root.

A root digs in and explores the depths of darkness to find its nourishment, and a star emanates light. A mula star—what a cool combination of concepts!

As I root my conscious awareness into the depths of pelvic darkness, may I also shine with a brighter light.

And it’s scary because it is also such an aggressive symbol of tearing something apart in order to build something new. I’m not always comfortable with this aspect of power.

However, building is on the other side of destruction. And, even so, I am still not comfortable with taking something apart. Imagine looking at the ashes, and saying, “What now?” Easy, right?

This mula stuff is serious business.

And I think of the metaphor of where the mula is considered to be on the body: at the very base of the torso where lots of evacuation happens–poop, pee and so on… It is at the very deciding point: this stuff is no longer a part of “me.”

Around 19:47 in this video at Elephant by Sam Geppi things get really interesting in terms of explaining mula and power. Mula means root, but it really means “to uproot” difficulty, ignorance and darkness according to Geppi, even as it also refers to “root”.

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Mula Stars

I was so excited to discover that there are Mula stars in the sky in an article about the recent Lunar Eclipse at Elephant Journal last week.

In Vedic Astrology, the Nakshastras are 27 constellations in the sky, also known as “lunar mansions.” The Nakshastras represent the wives of the moon, and one of these is called “Mula.”

Mula
“the root”
0 – 13°20 Sagittarius
Deity: Nirriti, goddess of misery
Symbol: tied up bunch of roots, lion’s tail
Shakti: the power to destroy or damage
Basis Above: to break
Basis Below: to crush
Result: destruction

Mula people like to take things apart, literally destroy them, before they create anything. Mula natives are focused on getting to the root of a concept, situation or thing so they inevitably must destroy most of the thing to get at its essence. Mula is a constellation at the middle of the Milky Way, so these natives become intensely interested in their object of study and penetrate the core of whatever it is that they are focused upon. They like to uncover secret knowledge. Because of the naturally difficult aspects of this Nakshatra, Mula natives are prone to experience utter loss and disappointment at some time in their lives. As this is happening, Nirriti will give a healing salve to those in distress. She is also protector of those people who are mentally and physically disabled. The Mula person will confront fear and it will flee. A Mula person has an inner warrior that can confront anything. Prominent Mula people are Henri Matisse and Krishnamurti.
~The Nakshatras: 27 Lunar Mansions of Vedic Astrology

I think I recognize some aspect of myself in this description of Mula. I welcome my “inner warrior”!

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Mulabandha* has Indian Roots.

Moola Bandha The Master KeyIt is of note, to me, that during this time of questioning “the nature and origins of postural yoga (asana),” (as it is stated on the back of Mark Singleton’s 2010 book, Yoga Body) that somehow I have chosen to study a concept that connects to the yogic texts that are from India.

In Moola Bandha, The Master Key, by Swami Buddhananda there are several references to traditional texts. Mulabandha is mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (15th century CE) as “one of the practices which annihilate old age and death.” According to the Gheranda Samhita (late 17th century), mulabandha is the “destroyer of decay.” The Siva Samhita states (17th or 18th century, or before 15CE), “If in the course of practice of this bandha (energetic lock), the yogi can unite the apana (downward-moving subtle energy) with the prana vayu (subtle energy principle), then it becomes yoni mudra. One who has accomplished yoni mudra, what can he not accomplish in the world?” It is also mentioned in several of the Upanishads (from before 5th century BC to as late as 1926). According to the Yoga Shikha Upanishads (probably originating from the 13th century) and some other Upanashads the mastery of practice brings “siddhis (psychic abilities).”

Also interesting is the statement from Moola Bandha, The Master Key, “Scriptural descriptions all relate to the male body.” And, “The actual point of physical contraction varies according to sex.”

I definitely plan to look into the physiology and potential of what can happen in the pelvis, by further study in Moola Bandha, The Master Key (The first edition was published in 1978.), and by looking into more recent information available on the subject.

* I am using the spelling “mulabandha” as it is written in The Mirror of Yoga, by Richard Freeman.

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Yieldin’ Healin’

In looking to the root or mula of things and the body, past trauma can be uncovered as I’ve already found out. Hopefully when this kind of thing happens I can just be present for what’s coming up for me, and not make it more or less than it really is. Last night I had a strong memory of some words said to me as a child that had caused me to feel guilty and suspicious of myself as I was remembering learning Janu Sirsasana B. What I didn’t describe in that post was how I felt. When I was shrinking back and trying to numb myself to the sensation of sitting on my heel, I was colored with a dark emotion, like this is bad and I am ashamed. But I did it anyway, and that felt familiar. I grew up from age 7 through high school in a kooky household. I learned ways that didn’t seem like mine in order to get along in that place. So that’s what came up for me in yoga a while back.

As the moment moved by, and I sat there I thought I might be sick, but then that passed, too.

And it makes me mad now. I’m angry about learning to be inauthentic because now I want to be. So now I’m dedicating myself to the root of things, and hopefully I will do a little spiritual house cleaning “down there” in the course of my study and work.

I’m grateful for yoga and my teacher for a situation that might one day yield healing.

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