Yoga Asana practice could be perceived as a sequence of spirals, of pulsating movements beginning at the center of the body, moving outward through the limbs, then flowing back to center along the limb pathways, riding on the breath .
Consider Trikoasana (Triangle Pose), from Tadasana (Standing Mountain); Tadasana is a symmetrical pose, legs and arms close to center. When Triangle pose is mapped in our attention and intention, the center stirs a spiraling that radiates outward from the naval. Movement flows outward along the skeletal pathways of the pelvic halves into the feet, creating an asymmetrical pose base undersupported by earth. Almost simultaneously with the formation of the base, the spine begins to spiral laterally outward and downward, rotating from deep in the base of the legs and feet, and supported by the organs as they slide and glide into supportive place around the vertebral bodies. Muscles tone as guided by the bones. The arms, spiraling from the rib cage halves flow from the shoulders, spiral through the humerus and the elbows, and into the hands; one hand bonds with earth support beneath the body while the other bonds with space above the body. And the head and tail, which are also limbs, lengthen away from and return to center as they undulate with the spine breathing. Spirals radiating in at least 6 separate directions create asymmetrical bliss in this posture. And we are suspended in the center, a place of space. This suspension is a kind of kumbhaka, a pause, within which we glimpse a personal sacred alignment. Then we allow a returning to symmetry as we dissolve the pose into Standing Mountain.
These movements are some of the most complex in yoga. When did the ability to create them begin? The mosaic of movement patterns we flow through almost effortlessly to create this posture, and many others, began in the womb.
As infants, gravity guides us into exploring movement patterns such as spinal push, then supine naval radiation through the limbs. These movements spiral us to roll over and explore through the limbs, creating homologous, homolateral, and contralateral movements. These movements, in relation to each other, create yoga postures.
How does this knowledge apply to yoga?
Adult bodies can benefit from returning to these early movements within a yoga practice. We can pattern, or sequence, yoga practices from our movement beginnings, easing into our complexity from conscious undersupport. This allows each body to realize it's own natural alignment and appreciate movement as a gift of consciousness.
EmbodiYoga® is an exploration of this remembrance, called vairagya in sanskrit. Nischala Devi's translation of the Yoga Sutras, The Secret Power of Yoga, relates the meaning of Yoga Sutra 1.12 as "Consciousness is elevated by Abhyasa (Devoted Practice) and Vairagya (Remembering the Self)". Vairagyam also translates as discernment, a wisdom quality of remembering which guides us to find our true selves and relax into knowing what supports us fully.
Enjoy spiraling from and returning to your movement roots! Join us for a class to explore the liberation of movement via EmbodiYoga®.
Next time: Yoga from Your Limb Buds: Embryology Informs and Liberates our Yoga Practice
Deep pranams and thanks to Lisa Clark, founder of EmbodiYoga®.
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, founder of Body Mind Centering®.
Nischala Joy Devi, The Secret Power of Yoga
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!