Yoga and Empatharian

Google defines “Yoga” as: a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.

As states “Modern yoga is most commonly associated with the physical practice of asana, a series of postures often weaved together in styles such as Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga. Asana practice is generally intended to build strength and stamina, to improve flexibility, coordination and balance, and to relax the body.

Traditionally, “yoga” in the ancient Sanskrit language means “yoke” or “union”, as in to create union between body, mind and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness.  I believe it could also mean the union of many specific practices into a wholistic spiritual practice, which is the traditional yogic eight-fold path.

The Eight-Fold Path Relating to Empatharian Peace Arts Practices

The eightfold path of Patanjali’s yoga consists of a set of prescriptions for a morally disciplined and purposeful life, of which asanas (yoga postures) form only one limb.[ Empatharian Peace Arts similarly has eight practices, which though not parallel, are compatible, and movement gestures of Empatharian are just one part.

1. Yamas – Five universal, ethical and moral observances to live by (nonviolence, truthfulness, non-stealing, continence and non-covetousness)  parallel:  Emotional Intelligence Training Workbooks, story sharing in talking circles. 

2. Niyamas – Five spiritual and self-discipline observances (cleanliness, contentment, spiritual austerities, study of scriptures and surrender to God)  parallel: Self-nurturance and connection to Source.

3. Asana – physical posture, originally intended only for seated meditation, but more recently adapted to encompass all physical yoga practices  parallel: Movement Meditations Physical Practice 

4. Pranayama – breathing exercises to control the flow of prana (vital life force)  EPA: 4 Breathing Techniques

5. Pratyahara – Withdrawal of the senses  EPA: 5 Self-Massage and Tapping Techniques

6. Dharana – Single pointed concentration  EPA: Focus in Movement Meditations, choreography, group work for posture, alignment, and intuitive understanding.

7. Dhyana – Meditation  EPA: movement meditations

8. Samadhi – Liberation or blissful union with the Divine  EPA: Improvisational Art Practice, Improvisational Movement, Movement Meditations, leading to luminosity and presence.

Yoga Asanas Compared with Empatharian Movement Meditation

In Yoga, the asanas generally have names after animals, while Empatharian has positions that are symbolic meanings, gestures that communicate a thought or feeling.    In Yoga a famous beginning combination of asanas is called the Sun Salutation, while in Empatharian the beginning movement meditation is called The Empath Stretch.  The yogic idea is simple devotion, while Empatharian begins with Making a Stand for Peace-building, quite a different empowerment, and an affirmation into the universe and the psyche of the participant.  

In Yoga, the participant follows a teacher, while Empatharian uses facilitators to coach and model for the group or the individual.  Both practices can eventually be done without the need of a facilitator or a teacher, on your own, but Empatharian continues with additional group work after the movement session, or sometimes before, so that discussion and conversation/storytelling among participants informs and creates the practice work.

Mentally, both practices are quite different: yoga allows you to leave your thoughts and feelings, your mental apparatus at the door, and (if you can do it) check out.  Then you focus inward, as you become aware of sensation and focus on your breath and the movement itself. In Empatharian, you also focus on breath and the movement, but bring the mental apparatus along to make the statements of the meditation, feeling into the movement, and feeling into the meaning of what is being said.  You are stretching your empathy, your feelings, and your body- a body-mind-spirit connection in the moment.

Yoga is also used as a therapeutic tool for many physical and mental conditions, and mind-body research is now demonstrating its effectiveness as a treatment for chronic pain, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to name but a few.

Empatharian Peace Arts combines the movement benefits of yoga with the benefit of purpose and intention, and the benefit of emotional expression.  It’s a Stretch of your Empathic Muscle, your dream weaving luminescence, as you interact in small groups and in pairs, and trios.  The benefits of yoga are amplified in Empatharian Peace Arts.

Empatharian Peace Arts #9:  Community

Being aware of the safety and groundrules of the group becomes the first priority as group norms are established: non-judgmentalism, acceptance and reflection, speaking from authentic presence of our own experience.  Non-violent communication principles inform the groups interactions, helping participants to assertively state their needs and wants in a situation, without put-downs, demands, or manipulation.

Developing a diverse and balanced learning/moving pod for each person is the magic of our facilitation.  No one is left out.  All are included, members of the Core-Us.


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