Add as bookmark

Hatha Yoga - The Energetics of Movement Transformation

by Lillian Irene Lovas(more info)

listed in yoga, originally published in issue 83 - December 2002


What would it take to transform your life, to change things around you? Change starts with you, within you. In fact, you are the only one that you can change. And to change the things around you, the only thing that needs to change is you. One learns in life that change is inevitable - change happens. So if this is the case, why not consciously participate in that change? Why not become the motivator of change, your own change? Take charge of your change.

So where would one begin with this transformation? How can movement be a part of that process? How does working with the energetics of movement apply to therapeutic change and its co-partner, personal transformation?

Virabhadrasana - Warrior Posture
Virabhadrasana - Warrior Posture

Movement and Change

The maxim is that energy goes to where our attention is. What are we paying attention to? The answer to this question is crucial, because the more we pay attention to what we don't want in our lives, the more of what we don't want will appear, or manifest (this goes for the opposite as well). Quantum physics demonstrates this elegantly. The observer and the observed are linked. The thing observed reacts to what the observer expects. (If the observer is looking for waves, waves appear, if it is particles, then particles). The observed is quite accommodating. Thus no phenomenon occurs unless it is observed, thus the 'observer effect'. So we need to know what our expectations are.

You are what you think - how you think about yourself and the world around you creates your reality - creates the space you move around in. In mind/brain research, the brain has been shown to have a 'plasticity factor' instead of being hard-wired.

One of the ways brain cells demonstrate this plasticity is through rhythmic movement. Rhythmic movement effects your neurology - moving rhythmically will add more neural pathways, therefore 'enriching' brain cells. So in a way you become smarter. Creating neural pathways is about internal reality, whereas "creates the space you move around in" is about external reality, or the external extension of internal reality. Creating new neural pathways creates different choices - pathways - to get something done, to change, broadening the ways you think about yourself and the world around you.

These neural pathways have energetic equivalents in the Chinese Medicine system in meridians, used extensively in acupuncture, and in the Ayurvedic system (of which yoga is a part), the nadis.

How we move through our lives is first coded in how we think or what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. To change our perceptions we must be aware of our thinking. In that awareness, we can step into new ways of movement. And one of the most effective ways by which we can shift our thinking, increase our awareness and affect the ways in which we experience ourselves is to develop a movement practice.

Yoga and Transformation

The movement practice that I find both personally rewarding and therapeutically effective is yoga, a 5000-year-old, ancient way of movement, formalized through the writings of Patanjali. I have been a student of yoga for over 30 years and have been teaching for nearly 20 years. In these years of learning to observe, to become aware and not to judge, my practice and my teaching have evolved into a deeper understanding of what yoga is all about and of how one can consciously transform spiritually, emotionally, mentally, psychically and psychologically, as well as physically.

Yoga practice is about postures, breath, and the focus or awareness of where we are in our bodies. In Western culture we have been taught to dislike our bodies, so we tend not to be 'in' them - we aren't paying attention to how we feel in them. And this is where injury occurs. Or we try to push our bodies into forms and postures for which our bodies are not ready. We are looking at the picture in a book or video, or we are paying attention to the teacher's body or our fellow classmates' bodies, so that we miss out where we are. We think the goal is to look a certain way in a posture. We think the floor is the goal, for instance, in the triangle pose (trikasana), and not the lengthening of the edges of the body, the lengthening of the space between the shoulder blades, the awareness of breath filling in the tight space. We lose the benefit of the posture by forcing ourselves into that picture in our mind, rather than wondering how we feel in the posture: "where am I in this posture? What's different today when I am in this posture?" Becoming aware of the subtle shifts and knowing your intention is mastery - this moves you into transformation.

These postures have an energetic signature that, with awareness, can change not only our bodies but also, everything we do. Asanas can change our perception, our beliefs about ourself and our world, about who we are and how we move through our world. We are decoding and recoding who we are through each posture. Each posture metaphorically and energetically moves a certain group of muscles and our minds in a particular way. These movements affect the energetic channels, the nadis, as well as our mind, opening new channels for experiencing oneself in one's body. "Who are you in your posture, what are you noticing about yourself while in this posture and how do you bring this into your everyday life? Who are you if you move through your life this way? What part of your life needs this kind of energy and movement?" These and other questions I ask my students, clients and myself to be aware of, allowing themselves to be in the flow of change and transformation through the energetics of yoga movement.


An example of this process comes out of my own life, when I used yoga to work with a painful hip injury. Missing a step or two coming off a ladder, I landed too hard and jammed my right hip, causing a foreshortening in the groin area, which in turn caused a tightening up. As a result, I could not comfortably put my right foot on my left thigh in the adept pose. So I had to pay attention to what was going on in my hip - what lessons of awareness I needed to become in tune with. What habitual postures was I holding to keep this tightness in my body? How was I compensating my walk and posture to accommodate this 'injury'? But before I could activate a healing process, I first had to stop judging myself as to why this had happened. Only then could I focus on what I could do to contribute to my physical improvement. After this change, the hip loosened up and is now nearly more flexible than it was originally.

Specifically, I practised a deep hero/warrior posture (virabhadrasana) that opened the hip/groin area, along with plank pose, that lengthened from the top of the buttocks through the heel. In mountain pose (tadasana), I worked with being aware of lengthening down from the soles of my feet into the earth and also of lengthening up from the soles of my feet to the crown of my head, and beyond.

My awareness grew and developed in this process. I discovered, in an in-body experience, how there is equanimity in these postures, in the lengthening down and up. My awareness extended beyond my practice into my everyday life, into my everyday postures, no longer limiting it to just in practice. What started out to be a physical practice, evolved into a lifestyle impacting my emotional, psychological, mental, as well as, spiritual well-being. This to me is the most important effect of yoga - the effect it has energetically on the rest of your day, your life. Yoga is not only a practice for 1-2 hours a day, it's also 24/7.

For this reason, the warrior/hero posture, for me, is a profound posture to start my day. It reminds my self of what my goals are for this day, week, season, and year. I am grounded on my path, stable in my footing. If I am knocked off my path, how do I regain it? My arms reaching out from my heart, I ask: "is my heart in these goals?" With my chin aligned with my shoulder, my gaze is just beyond my fingertips - my goals are in sight, they are within reach. What would be the next step to reach those goals - they are possible in this posture.

I bring this same insight to my students, and ask them, as well, when they are in this posture: "are you presenting the outside world a narrow edge?" I tell my students that, just as in fencing, you don't present your opponent your vulnerable spots; otherwise his foil will touch you and he'll win. Your shoulder and your hips are facing forward, which is not to deny your weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but rather, to develop strengths from them. With this intention in the warrior posture, I have had several students remark on how differently they look at challenges and their day.

As another example, I have noticed that many of my students have very rounded backs; when they do the staff pose or 'rag' doll, the spine has a hunched look. So now, I ask my students if they work with computers (computer backs) or if they do a lot of driving. In both cases there is a tightening in the spinal column/foreshortening from the tailbone to the base of the skull. In class I encourage my students to build an awareness of where there is the tightness (usually right between the shoulder blades, or just below). Then, while they are in posture, I further facilitate their awareness in their bodies - for instance, visualizing lengthening the spaces between the vertebrae and right through the crown of the head and grounding through the tailbone while sitting (sitting mountain pose). I help them work in a similar way while doing counter stretches in fish (matsyasana) and camel (ustrasana), and doing the bow (dhanurasana) to strengthen the front of the body. Both physically and energetically, this set of postures develops equanimity between the front and back of the body.

Through all levels of being, building this awareness is crucial to transformation. Back in the days when I belonged to a health club (and I am aware it still goes on) people in the gym (men and women alike) were on tread mills, Stairmasters etc., plugged into Walkmans, watching TV screens across the opposite wall or reading the Wall Street Journal or US News and World Report. (I'm sure there are comparable scenes in England.) I'd observe them working out for their hour or two, sweating and driving themselves, missing the whole physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, psychological benefit, because of what they just put (and I do emphasize put) themselves through, and here again is where injury occurs. I have also seen this in outdoor events, like races and bike riding, only with not quite as much media input as a gym. Where are these Walkman walkers in their physical experience? Where are they in their bodies? Not usually with the experience, but trying to get through the 'boredom'. Not in their bodies, but in the paper or the television. Not listening to what is crossing their minds - maybe even "watch out" or "stop" - "need some water" - "breathe". With that loss of awareness is also the loss of the opportunity to change, to transform. Why are we exercising? Why are we moving, if only to reinforce where we already are?


Mastery is doing the same thing over and over again with awareness, noticing the differences in body, mind and spirit, the subtle changes. No matter where we are, who we are, or what we are paying attention to, the questions and the awareness are the same: where is my focus? What is my intention? How am I achieving this from minute to minute, day to day? Who am I in this moment? Where is my potential today? Who am I becoming? This is the movement of yoga - yoking together your inner and outer worlds, uniting your dreams with your reality.

In 1989 I was on a trip in India. One part of the trip we stayed at an ashram in Bangalore. Staying there was a wandering Siva saddhu. In the morning he would find a quiet place to do his 'toilet'. He would in a meditative spirit unwrap his dreds and neatly rearrange them. Then he would proceed to wash his hands and face, reapply the markings of his devotion to Siva and re-wrap his tanga. He did this prayerfully, without rushing, without self-consciousness. He had all the time in the world and the world was providing that time for him.

When I arrived home, I had another experience. Not too far from my home there is a small plaza where there is a cafe and benches for us locals to gather. There, in that plaza, was a man who was preparing for his day. He was rearranging his clothes and combing his hair, going from one activity to the other. Then every so once in a while, getting up in an agitated fashion, he would roam back and forth and then, start all over again. His movements were quick, distracted and self-conscious. I mean no judgment of this man - it was just such a sharp contrast within days of my experience in India. Both of these men were homeless, both had the same purpose in mind, getting ready for their day, yet for each man it was a remarkably different experience/focus. The difference was in the inner intention and reality that each man brought to the same outer activity. Both images have vividly remained with me, counter-posed.

The energetics of yoga is being in the centre of your experience, in the now, in the most profound way. Like the saddhu, you, too, can be fully present, actively living out your life with intention, choosing your direction and moving through your trans-formations.

You've been in movement ever since your mother's egg and your father's sperm united - you've been doing a choreographed dance of phenomenal magic. If you ever have had the opportunity to see live the dividing of the cells from one to two to four to eight - it's an incredible dance. Shape shifting from simple, mathematical and geometrical proportions to a point of form and function. Cells migrating and grouping to that first heart beat. Watching this performance, these effects of energy and life force, change and morph, creates a wondrous mystery to behold.

This is the internal experience of yoga movement - being in the awareness of the life force of the postures, changing, transforming, with intention and direction, moving with the wondrous mysteries of life. This is the energetics of movement transformation.


Asana     Sanskrit, a specific position of the body which channels prana (energy/chi), opens the chakras and removes energy blocks.
Energetics     the physics of energy and its transformation.
Energy     the work that a physical system is 'capable' of doing in changing from its 'actual' state to a specified reference state. From the Greek at work; vitality of expression.
Hatha yoga     Sanskrit, ha(sun) and tha(moon), a scientific system which purifies the whole physical body, asanas being a part of that system.
Movement     change in position, from the Latin 'to move'.
Nadi     Sanskrit flow, subtle channel in the pranic (energy) body, conducting the flow of energy, comparable to the meridians of acupuncture.
Saddhu     Sanskrit, roaming monk.
Transformation     to change markedly the form or appearance of, to change the nature function or condition, from the Latin 'across shape'.
Yoga     Sanskrit, state of union/'yoking' between two opposite poles (ida/pingala, yin/yang, sun/moon, male/female), union of 'opposites, a system of asanas/poses practised as part of a discipline of Yoga to promote the control of the body and mind.


Lappa Andrew. Yoga: Tradition of Unification. KYIV. 2000.
Iyengar BKS. Light On Yoga, rev. ed. Schoken Books. New York. 1979.
Muktibodhananda Swami. Commentary: Hatha Yoga Padipika. Yoga Publications Trust. Munger, Bihar, India. 2000.
The American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd College Edition.
Wolf Fred Alan. Mind into Matter. Moment Point Press. Portsmouth, NH. 2000.


Editor: Mimi Sandeen is a health and wellness writer/editor also working in the USA. She can be contacted at
Model: Bonnie Winer, Chinese Energetic Method practitioner.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Lillian Irene Lovas

Lillian will help guide you in your transformational work; uncovering lost dreams, or discovering new ones, strategizing their manifestation or removing blocks from your success. Integrating over 30 years experience in the health field as a nutrition counsellor and research fellow in cardiovascular disease, preventive medicine and epidemiology, yoga and movement meditation instructor, and nearly 10 years in the field of NLP, focusing on solutions, setting goals, aligning yourself with your desired outcomes, discovering what stops you and modelling your states of excellence, and applying these to your goals and holding accountability to those goals. She is a Master Practitioner and Certified Health Practitioner of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Oriental Natural Energetics (ONE Model), nutritionist, practitioner of Chinese Energetic Method (Yuen Energetics), Reiki and Shinkiko Master, Akashic Record reader, certified crystallographer, ecstatic dance teacher, certified Yoga instructor at the Temple of Kriya Yoga, Levels I & II, Chicago and the Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas, Chakra Yoga with Anodea Judith and certified Cardiac Yoga(r) Yogaville Ashram, Virginia and has lectured and taught nationally and internationally. She integrates NLP, Chinese Energetic Method, Yoga, and her own life experiences and world-travels to help others transform their lives - to lead the lives they envision in their minds. She can be reached by post: c/o Healing Earth Resources, 3111 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60657; Tel: +1 773 220 1329;;

top of the page