Hatha yoga for manifestation
Those of us who practice hatha yoga, or physical postures (asana), come to it for many different reasons: improved vitality; a more durable, adaptable body; to calm our mental static; and lots of ego-based goals, such as achieving a “yoga butt.”
I was one of those who came from an athletic background, and at first approached yoga mainly from the standpoint of wanting to maintain my athleticism well beyond the usual parameters of age. Not surprisingly, it was the Type-A intensity of hot yoga that first attracted my attention, and it took nearly a decade of me sweating in a 105-degree room before that yoga beat out of me any idea that I needed to “win” at it (a decade that turned out to be very necessary to my path).
At first, I found it strange that registered Bikram teachers — who recite virtually the same words in every class, in every studio in the world, for the exact same sequence of 26 postures — referred to their monologue as a “dialogue.” Who represented the “other half” of that dialogue, I wondered. I finally settled on an understanding that it must be a two-way conversation in which the teacher spoke, and students responded with the shapes of their bodies. (With some of the Bikram teachers I encountered, this often became a “heated” negotiation, but that’s a whole ’nother post.)
Eventually, I moved to a town that had no Bikram studio and tried several other styles, which led to the stunning realization that when we practice yoga, we are actually engaging in a multi-level conversation — with the teacher; with the Universe; with our energy bodies and Higher Selves; and ultimately with Source (which if you want to get esoteric about it, is all of those things already).
It is a somewhat maddening paradox that words both create our gross physical Reality and, being extraordinarily limited carriers of information — cannot begin to express it, which is why we need things like art, poetry, music and dance. In yoga, the asanas constitute a highly sophisticated, complex language that sends and receives things like our intention, intuition and energetic orientation to our physical experience. They express our relationship with Reality.
I was in a vinyasa flow class once where the teacher, a lithe, ethereal woman in her 40s with little pronounced musculature, cued us into Virabhadrasana/Warrior 2. As she moved into the posture herself to demonstrate, I literally felt the energy of the room shift. Suddenly this smallish, unassuming woman — someone who would probably never pick a fight, nor would you imagine her doing so — appeared to embody the power and ferocity of an army. She settled calmly into her stance, gaze steady, shoulders relaxed, arms extended and still. I swear you could not have knocked her over. I somehow felt her feet anchor down through the floor as though they were my own.
Maybe she spoke, maybe she didn’t, but it wouldn’t have mattered. I absolutely understood what she was saying with that shape.
In the same way, asana can help us to express and understand the physical reality we are always manifesting, using the body as an interpreter. If we feel fearful, postures in the Warrior series can counteract that by expressing strength, steadiness and calm confidence — a reminder that we can handle whatever arises. If we are feeling limited and small, expansive asanas such as Suryasana/Sun can help us expand our presence. If we are closed off from connection, a heart-opening pose such as Anjaneyasana can express a willingness instead to be available and even vulnerable (which as I often note in class, can be an act of great bravery).
As the body speaks, the mind perceives, believes — and ultimately receives.
So when we’re engaged in consciously manifesting our reality, we can use asana practice as a way of physically reinforcing our intentions and our thoughtforms around our abilities. If you already practice some form of hatha yoga, doing so may be as simple as setting your intention at the beginning of class, something I almost always invite my students to do, and many other teachers do as well.
Let me emphasize, though, that we’re not intending the manifestation of material things; we don’t think, “Today I dedicate my practice to the manifestation of a fancy new home,” for example. Rather, we set an intention to offer up our physical form as a vehicle through which the universe can express itself. We literally allow it to shape us, with gratitude. (As I explain in the course, expressions of sincere gratitude — for our bodies, for our lives, and for our experiences as the Divine moves through us and as us — are the best accelerators for our creative growth.)
We acknowledge our trust in that power that moves us, that we are willing and open to change, and that we are strong and resolute enough to meet any challenges that arise along the way. We demonstrate the commitment and understanding that we are aligning ourselves in every dimension, on every available level — including the expression of our physical form — with the higher wisdom and force of the Divine.
How you affirm this, of course, is up to you — but you should use whatever words feel most natural and meaningful to you. A sample affirmation might be, “I now align this body with the wisdom of the Divine to manifest the experience of peaceful abundance for all Beings, and for the highest good of all.” If you’re engaged in manifesting a particular job or project that speaks to those ends, you could of course hold that in mind as well.
Then, as you begin to move your body, let your intention inform your practice, no words required. As you move through a Viribhadrasana/warrior series, you may deeply sense “I am alert, ready, and able to meet the challenges to come.” As you refine Trikonasana/triangle, perhaps you feel the ways it subtly evokes one of Yoga’s many trinities, such as satchitananda (Sat/Chit/Ananda, or Truth/Awareness/Bliss). In Balasana/child’s pose, you might turn palms up to demonstrate your willingness to humbly receive.
It’s a language in which you will become increasingly fluent the more you use it. In the same way that the subconscious mind is always in two-way communication with the manifesting activity of the Vibrational Web, our bodies are constantly speaking and receiving information from other dimensions — physical, mental and ethereal. What you express with the body “goes out.” What you perceive with the body “comes in.” Over time, those messages begin to resonate more and more closely with each other, until we are able to focus our attention/intention like a laser beam on what is truly important to us, to our progress, and what Higher Self wishes to manifest as part of our human experience.