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Are You in Love or at War with Your Body?

Eoin finn in love or at war

I am practicing to a routine on Cody App. I always enjoy what the next generation of yogis are bringing to the practice. I love the “new school” moves and the creativity these Instagram stars bring to the table.

The warmups are vigorous right out of the start.  We do what seems like a trillion chaturangas, plank with the knee and forehead touching, chaturanga to dolphin.  I thought I was pretty fit by my arms are shaking.

“Wow, I must not be pushing myself a lot in my personal practice,” I think to myself “because this is damn hard.”

I love the challenge, I love getting strong and I love the heat it brings.  At one point we hit a pose that is about stretching and not strengthening and we are told that is the way it works for this teacher. We must work hard and then earn a rest.

The thing is, when the time comes for poses that are emphasize stretching as opposed to conditioning my body for fitness, I find myself not as open and flexible as I normally am for these poses.  It’s not that I haven’t been working.  My muscles are warm, I’ve physically exerted myself and my sweatshirt came off long ago.  I’m warm.

The thing is, I am just not “embodied” – with the fast pace and the performance-oriented practice I haven’t had time to let my mind penetrate my body and untie the knots from the inside out.  Rather, the emphasis has been on the outer body movements of muscles and bones and perfecting the shapes of the asana.

I’ve been doing yoga but haven’t had time to feel the yoga. My mind is still trying to submit my body into a flexible and toned person, but it’s a one-way conversation.  It’s a boss, rather than an equal participant in the process; it’s running a dictatorship of mind controlling my body rather than a democracy where the mind and body work together in synergy.

This approach is endemic to our modern culture and frankly a lot of the early yoga I was exposed to. Mind over matter and not mind within matter.  It’s a feeling of control rather than harmony.

I’ve been writing about embodiment for our Blissology Teacher’s Training manual.  I am committing this year to creating incredible teachers who can impact their communities through yoga, mindfulness and love; Our Bliss Army.

I have been thinking the whole time during the practice, “wow, I should get our Blissology Teachers together so we should all do this class as a group so I can point out the difference between doing and feeling yoga.”

Then it comes: the instructor says a phrase that explains exactly what I feel behind this approach:

During a long, two-minute hold of warrior two the instructor says in his sermon:

Don’t let your body control your mind, let your mind control your body.”

It’s as if there is a battle between team body and team mind.

Plank Pose Eoin Finn

In plank pose, can you somatically regulate your body and keep yourself calm or do you want to mentally conquer your body?

I used to think and teach like this before it became clear what embodiment and specifically what “embodied peace” was.

The “Power Yoga” process was like this.  Hold people in an impossibly long plank pose.  As their arms were shaking and they were about to break, the soliloquy was:

“Life is full of hardships, there are going to be so many challenges we face in life; relationships, arguments, traffic…. The only thing we can control is our reactions to things so develop a resilient mind now.”

It seemed like good enough advice but the problem was it was a mental game that involved cutting off feedback from circuitry to the body and over-riding it with strength of my mind.

I’ve learned that a better way for me to deal with those scenarios is to use bodily sensations and not numb myself to them.  For example, while holding plank pose, I would notice that my throat and jaw would tighten, my breath would constrict and become short and my butt would clench.

What I needed to do was to literally, relax the jaw, loosen the butt from clenching, and keep the breath L.S.D. (Long, Slow and Deep.) I could take the lid off of the pressure cooker and remain calm in a challenge not by cutting myself off of bodily feedback, but by using it to my advantage.

Suddenly even these hard poses became no sweat. Literally.  I stopped sweating buckets when before I used to be one of those sweaty yoga guys nobody wanted to put their mats beside they were dripping bodily fluids onto their neighbor’s mats.

My physical toolbox of mind-body integration to maintain calmness under pressure became indispensable to me.  The incredible thing is that this has huge implications for life: whether dropping into a scary wave on my surfboard, in a situation of confrontation, I can control my reactions physically and maintain my setting of calm and clarity.

I can use my body to find mental flow states. I can somatically self-regulate towards peace.

How about You?

A 4-minute Meditation to Stay Clear in Stressful Times

“No one becomes smarter under stress,” says Charles Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist at the University of New Haven CT. “The question really is who becomes dumb faster!”

A lot of what he’s talking about in relation to first responders and military, but it’s still true in our everyday life.

Especially in this COVID Era where there seem to be even more reasons to be stressed.

I would love to tell you that “the Universe Has Your Back” and share with all kinds of New Age meditations that tell us we can just manifest whatever we want. I believe manifesting and visioning is important, no doubt.

However, there’s another side to this: It is called getting clear even when the world seems like it’s conspiring against you. In these post COVID times, I have been full of fear of ill health and bankruptcy. I have to believe that the universe has my back, but I have to get smart under my mounting stress and not dumber.

If you take the phrase, “The Universe Has Your Back” and shorten it to just the letter “U” instead of Universe it becomes “U Have Your Back!”

That’s what we’re doing here in this meditation. We are taking just over 4 minutes of our time to release from the fog of stress and keep our head and body clear.

I’ll see you on a cushion and we will have a beautiful micro-dose of meditation goodness, Blissology style.

In these challenging times, this is a donation-based meditation. You can make a donation to our Blissology Eco Karma Foundation via PayPal.

Share with anyone who needs this. Stay safe. Stay Smart.

U and the Universe have your back!

10 Signs your Body (and your Mind) wants you to Practice Yoga

You’ve heard how amazing yoga can be for your body, but do you know how much your body needs it?
You know someone who does yoga. We all do. It’s clear they’re devoted to their practice. And many say that it changes lives and bodies. But how do you know if yoga is right for you? Your body knows, says Eoin Finn, who teaches the Yoga Mind Body Medicine course in Ucluelet, B.C. And it’s trying to tell you to practice yoga with these silent (or maybe not-so-silent) signs.


1. Your body is tight

Tightness means that you need some of the dynamic movements that yoga can provide.

The yogi says: “In general, when people are new to yoga I notice that there is a lot of tightness and rigidity in the body,” says Finn. “It’s easy to label this simply as inflexibility but that’s too general. I see this inflexibility as a symptom in the body but the root cause is often in the mind.” (This yoga flow will loosen you up.)

2. You breathe quickly

Short breaths can show that you are stressed. Learning how to properly breathe with yoga can help.

The yogi says: “There is a lack of awareness about how to regulate the body towards a state of peace and clarity,” he says. “We all face a lot of stress and worry in modern living and we are not given the tools for how to stay centered using our breath and awareness in stressful situations or how to effectively move this out of our bodies and minds.”

3. You can’t remember the last time you relaxed

And we’re not talking about going on vacation or to the spa – but on a regular, routine day.

The yogi says: “By relaxing the body and following the breath in a yoga pose, we learn how to relax the mind,” he says…


Read the rest of the article and interview with Eoin on Reader’s Digest Best Health.