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Identity & perception from a yoga visor

9 Nov 2018
by Aimée Kuntz & Sandra van Nieuwland

To write this blog, I was inspired by Hum of Multitudes by Sandra van Nieuwland. Apart from the video in this blog where Sandra tells something about this song, this yoga blog is about how a different perspective changes your experience and how you can change neurological patterns through yoga.


Identity & perception

How we experience something is influenced by our perspective on the situation. And so whether we feel good, or not.


The world around you looks different when you stand on a table, when you’re upside down or when you’re looking through pink glasses. Also, another pair of eyes (with other beliefs and expectations) will experience the same 'picture' very differently. My cats, for example, see a pen as a toy. That does not mean that they are less right than I; they can use a pen to play with. And if I would disassemble the pen, I would no longer see the parts as a pen. But it has certain properties that many people perceive as a pen and cats as a toy. So neither is the ultimate truth. It just depends on through which glasses you are looking at it.


Whereas when we look at the pen from a metaphysical perspective, we are talking about something that is made out of quantum soup, a field of possibilities. It is energy that is so focused in a way that we can see it and use it as a pen. By seeing other features of it, such as that it can roll (whereby a cat might like to play with it), you can look at it differently. If you are someone who loves to write, that same pen could put a smile on your face. While for someone whose fingers has been beaten up while writing in the past, the pen might function as an anker that misery and pain is around the corner. Or maybe you’re someone that likes to click pens 'on and off' to calm yourself, while someone else would get nervous by the same behavior. Another could see a pen as a physical weapon, while one could also see it as a means by which we can contribute to world peace.


The same principle applies to everything else we observe. All influenced by our (shared and personal) beliefs and expectations, which form neurological patterns. Sometimes even on a cellular level (and even affected by our ancestors). Making what we experience as a fixed reality is actually not so fixed at all…. if you would be able to change beliefs and expectations quickly. Though, the fixedness in our experienced reality is useful to experience situations as intense and real and gives us the opportunity to (co-) create.


We also look to ourselves from different perspectives: by the different roles we fulfill. For example, in your job, relationship, friendships, family, study, etc. Depending on the role you fulfill for them, various people expect different things from you. So we work with both a perceived reality and perceived identity. That’s also why you can get resistance when changing your behavior if that changes your role in relation to others (although you are still you).


You can of course also look at the concept of 'perspectives' from different perspectives. YogaHabits ambassador Sandra van Nieuwland has written a song that deals with how we are influenced by the perspectives of others and ourselves: Hum of Multitudes. And especially for YogaHabits she also tells something about this in the video below.


But how do you then change your reality?

If how we experience things is influenced by neurological patterns based on beliefs and expectations, we can change our perceived reality. By changing those beliefs and expectations. Or by focusing on the neurological patterns.


For example by observing yourself. If you observe yourself, this gives information about your thoughts. Since we are not these thoughts, but the thinker, we can change these thoughts. And thereby also our reality. One way to do this is to alternate between focus and relaxation. There are many 'reality creation' theories and exercises about this to be found, but in this blog I will focus on how we work with this within the yoga practice.


In yoga postures, we also alternate between focus (in asana) and relaxation (in savasana and of course by your breath). For example, if you work on a balancing posture, you focus your attention. To learn the yoga posture, you work on creating new neurological patterns. Like how you use your feet, legs, abdominal muscles etc. Probably in a completely different way than you use them while sitting behind a computer.


With every attempt of the balancing posture, you use your thoughts to focus: to give direction. And with every attempt you get new information, which could show new perspectives. The more you go inward within your practice, the more different perspectives you can add to your awareness. For example by keeping your attention focused on what happens in your foot (or your hip joint, your calf, how your breathing flows etc.). You do this by feeling. Where do you feel sensations in your body? How does that body part feel if you change something in your alignment?


Research has also shown that if the time between attempts is short (read: if you fall out, try again immediately), it is easier to form a new neurological pattern. That is why we often say that it is human to fall out a yoga posture and that it is a yogi who tries again.


However, you might also have experienced that infinite attempts sometimes don’t seem to help. This is indeed the case if you can’t keep the other aspect at the same time: the relaxation. In other words if you get frustrated and especially if you do not breathe properly (or if your body just needs physical rest). An 'easy' way to work on more relaxation in your yoga practice? Focus on your breath. And by taking a longer savasana at the end!


Enjoy your YogaHabits© today with love and light!





More info about Sandra van Nieuwland & Hum of Multitudes



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