Some time ago, one of my teachers was telling us about the virtues of the standing forward bend (Uttanasana). He pointed out that, during this resting pose, passive and active energy are working through us simultaneously – the thighs and hamstrings are engaged, the knee caps firm, strong and unmovable while the upper body, neck and head hang loose. The brain is at rest as blood flows to it, bringing about a relaxing sensation but stimulating enough to give way to alertness and acute consciousness.
I noticed that some asanas are a combination of passivity and activity. Bring your attention to this yin-and-yang exchange the next time you practice. Notice which muscles are taking a beating and which ones are relaxed and chillin’out. Opposite energy types working perfectly together.
I apply the passive-active dichotomy to my daily life as well. There are times when, even as give my full attention to an activity, part of me is able to just stay focused and be still despite the madness. And when a situation becomes too much to bear, I now know when to take a moment for myself before I either speak up and be firm, or walk away. I’m getting better at being more aware of when passive or active energy should prevail. I consider this a gift. Mind you, I don’t always take advantage of this gift, especially when I’m stuck in a massive traffic jam, or dealing with someone obnoxious. In these instances I lose awareness and simply gnash my teeth in anger, or even lash out. Uh-huh, I get mad. 🙂 The good news: Being upset is not my default reaction anymore. Passive energy tempers my active energy and vice versa. There’s balance somehow. Do a little experiment on awareness the next time you’re in the studio and let me know what you find out.