Author: Aryn Trimble
Yoga and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
There is not much to compare with the feeling of freedom and power that comes when riding on a motorcycle. The wind blowing on your face, the smells you experience as you pass varying environments and the sight of pavement rolling underneath you is a thrill that is unmatched. As with any modern technology though, there are times when the machine fails to serve its purpose, and it breaks down. Most of us use machines to increase the efficiency of our daily lives and when this break down occurs, it can cause much frustration and inconvenience. Luckily, the engines that are the driving force of these machines are actually pretty simple and easy to understand.
Motorcycles, and most engines, require only three fundamental elements to function properly: air, fuel, and spark. This principle can also be said about the human body in that to function properly the body requires air (breath), fuel (energy from food) and spark (an active mind). Without these three elements and some regular maintenance, a motorcycle will not propel the rider forward and the rider will not drive forward in life.
In a motorcycle, inefficient airflow to the engine may cause sputtering, a decrease in power or improper exhaustion of burned fuel. The same holds true for our bodies as a lack in air causes improper oxygenation to our blood, which affects the efficiency of our entire body (internal organs as well as muscles and tissues) and can lead to a build up of toxins in the body. The yoga practices of asanas and pranayama deal with the first required element of air.
While practicing asanas, focus is directed to breathing as a means to normalize the heart rate and blood pressure allowing our mind and body to relax into the posture and receive greater stretching to the muscles and joints. Becoming more aware of our breath helps us to gain greater control over our body. While practicing pranayama, we using breathing techniques to calm our nervous system, increase oxygenation to the blood, remove toxins from the lungs and increase our overall capacity of the respiratory system. Our breath is our vital energy source and without the breath’s existence, we fail to exist.
The second essential element is fuel. Impure fuel leads to build up of particles in the supply line to the engine of a motorcycle and may eventually lead to blockages. There are many fuels available on the market, and clean-burning fuel may be more expensive then lower-grade fuels. Food is the fuel for the body. There are so many food products available to consumers that we often become confused and have a difficult time making healthy choices. Pure and wholesome foods may cost more but are worth the expense when you consider the benefits to your body.
Yogic diet is simple. Eat fresh and natural foods. This simple guideline indicates eating fresh fruits and vegetable, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Fresh and natural implies avoiding food that has been processed and preserved and excludes the consumption of meat, eggs, and stimulants (i.e. coffee). Extensive research has been performed that links heart disease and cancer directly to diets that are high in animal-based foods. Animal-based foods cause build-up in our arteries and blood vessels as well as in our digestive tracts, causing blockages of blood supply to the body and to waste leaving the body. A plant-based, yogic diet gives the body the clean-burning fuel it needs to function most efficiently.
Without a spark, an engine cannot perform combustion, which is the driving force for propulsion. This third crucial element, spark, is our mind. If our mind is in constant chaos, without clarity, our body has no source of power behind it. Yoga literally means to join, as in joining, or balancing, the body and mind. All aspects of yoga are to help calm and clear the mind. Chanting mantras and prayers help to inspire and motivate the mind to maintain positivity and compassion.
Along with the three essential elements of air, fuel and spark, a motorcycle needs regular maintenance to keep it in working order. This may include proper lubrication and checking parts for wear and tear. The body requires similar maintenance such as hydration and being aware of any pain or injuries. Yoga improves the mind-body connection. We can focus to improve on the weaknesses of our body when we become more adept at recognizing them. The needs of the body become more apparent the more one practices.
Sometimes machines break down. This is inevitable. The body and mind will not always function properly either. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes we neglect preventative maintenance. Often times we fail to recognize the symptoms before a break-down occurs and are then caught by surprise when it does happen. We become impatient in diagnosing the source of the break-down and either expect a “quick-fix” or expect someone else to fix the problem for us. Whether the problem stems from a physical or mental collapse, yoga helps to deal with these issues.
By living a yogic lifestyle we can stabilize our breathing, maintain a healthy diet and calm our mind, which are all forms of preventative maintenance. If we are practicing asanas, pranayama and meditation we can become aware of ourselves more fully and will notice any changes to our physical or mental health. Once aware of these changes we know where to focus our energy for improvements and we are able to detect symptoms before they escalate into serious problems. These yoga practices also calm our mind, which improves our patience in resolving any issues, whether internal or external, that arise throughout our lives. Yoga places importance on self-realization and that each person’s journey is their own. We cannot expect others to perform our maintenance or fix our problems for us. The only way of truly finding your path is to focus inwards and steer the direction for your own life.
Maybe you have never ridden a motorcycle, but most of us have driven some type of motorized vehicle and can appreciate the power and efficiency of the machine. Our bodies are just as fascinating, if not more so, than these modern machines. The beauty of our body is that it belongs to us and we can have complete control over it. So anyone that feels their air filter may be congested, or their tank is lacking quality fuel, or their mind is lacking sufficient spark can rest assured that there is a simple and easy to follow owner’s manual for their machine. Practice yoga regularly to “get your motor running”.
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