Friday, May 06, 2005

Tulips & Ideokinesis

My mom called me this afternoon to thank me for the beautiful bunch of pink tulips I gave her this morning when we met for coffee. They were a Mother's Day gift.

I'm not much of a plant person. But even I can see how really marvelous tulips are.

The long, bright green stems look so thin and fragile. Yet the resilience there is the tulip's strength. It seems like you can almost see the stem grow longer as it reaches upward, irresistably toward the sun. And it's capped with a brilliant burst of color.

so tall, so beautiful Posted by Hello

Once you've seen this unmatched picture of elegance and bright pigment, it's hard to forget. As I write this, the tulips aren't here. But I can see them clearly in my imagination. You probably can, too.

Last Saturday, while sitting in the easy pose (sukhasana), I asked my students to imagine that their spines were the stems of beautiful tulips--long, supple, alive, lengthening skyward. But I didn't say those last five words. They weren't needed. The image of a tulip stem was enough.

If you imagine your spine as a tulip stem now, you'll see your imagination alone is enough to create a feeling of lightness and space throughout your torso, neck and head.

Other images are just as powerful. Don't you feel locked down and compressed in the spine when you endure stressful hours at work?

It's called ideokinesis.

What's especially perplexing and rewarding about ideokinesis is that the alignments produced by the imagination are involuntary. Any attempts to voluntarily control them are clunky and inefficient.

Dr. Lulu Sweigard in her book, Human Movement Potential, called ideokinesis "imagined movement." She says it is "the idea of movement occurring within one’s body in a specific place and direction, but not being voluntarily performed."

Your body responds to ideas.

It occurs to me that this is how I know I'm with a great teacher. The images he or she offers me are vivid and powerful. My body cannot resist. It responds.

I remember clearly now, years later, the precise feelings in my body when one of my early Iyengar yoga teachers painted the picture for me of the arches of my feet and my thoracic diaphragm as domes, like umbrellas. I remember now how my arms felt so heavy extended outward in warrior 2 pose and then miraculously weightless when I imagined water coursing through them like fire hoses.

I remember now how my college physiology professor was so adept at offering me image after image after image. His gift of pictures made the concepts he was trying to teach stick in my body as well as my mind.

Fill your imagination with beautiful pictures today, and observe how your body responds.
[W]hatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phillipians 4:8
Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., Using your imagination is the only way to remember the Sanskrit names of yoga poses. I know where you can get dozens of images that will make those pose names unforgettable.They come from experience, vivid experience. You can do it. Click here to find out more about our Experience Sanskrit workshop coming up June 25, 2005 at the Saint Louis YogaSource.

p.p.s., Can you imagine that your wrists and hands are expanding? Getting larger? Feeling warmer? Imagine you can feel your breath travelling into your wrists and hands as you inhale. This is a technique that really works to eliminate the pain, tingling and numbness many experience in their wrists and hands. Order your WristFix report today and you'll be on your way to pain-free paws. Get it at

p.p.p.s., I simply want to say "thank you" today to all of my teachers, wherever they are. I have been so blessed by their generosity and willingness. I have been so graced by the fruits of their labors. I owe a debt I cannot repay. My mom was my first teacher, by the way. I love you, Mom.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved by Mo Yoga LLC.


Blogger Sofia said...

Just want to drop you a mail and tell you that I love your blogg..
It was wouderful to finde it and I you see to be such a lovely humble person..

Best wishes Sofia
-only blogging in Swedish..

2:36 PM  

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