Defying Gravity Workshop Notes, Bodywise, 4 November 2007
Lightness is in the mind, it’s an attitude, and as with all the Asana postures comes out of the pelvis. As nobody really yet knows where the mind actually is there’s a lot of fun to be had investigating! We know that gravity pulls downwards and has a rebound energy that bounces back upwards, and it’s this energy we need to collect and redirect to give us the freedom of movement and lightness in the body, it comes from the centre. As with all postures it’s the Hara (the fire within the pelvis) that collects and distributes Chi energy. Breath and a focussed mind is needed too for the natural intelligence of our bodies to enjoy and be confident in defying the downward pull. I can only share my self-experience of lightness I’m able to (sometimes) find in my body after many years of practice, and hope it will be useful to your journey. The practice of Yoga naturally pulls us towards investigation, study of our self and how we live in the world. Practice and self study leads us to be interested in things that many people never think about in the modern day world, because they never stop and take the time. Giving ourselves the time to practice and feel our connection to what’s around us, and running through us is rich and fun, we always learn something new about ourselves, and become more sensitive and discerning, able to absorb the positive and be less effected by the negative. Fun is key factor to my personal experience in defying gravity and embracing lightness, of heart, and body. Feeling uplifted in spirit and not taking ourselves too seriously uplifts us physically, dancing is proof of that. What makes us feel like dancing?
My personal and sincere tips on defying gravity are:
- Don’t think of moving in one direction but in all directions out from the centre of the pelvis (the Hara) - like a slow released explosion, but silent and controlled.
- Use your feet more, there is always a new part of the body to discover through the feet because they reflect the whole body (Reflexology).
- Use the Vital Principle of Intent. Trust the subtle body and Chi energy to carry your weight. Again, the mind carries that trust and confidence to express ourselves.
- Allow lightness to happen, which often means dampening our urge to ‘achieve’ the posture and take more time to feel. Listen and look inwardly and wait for the body to understand. Of course it doesn’t always! Accept that, don’t judge or get frustrated, just enjoy the journey anyway. With consistent practice your body will understand and join the mind in connecting energy channels and muscle chains.
- Stay focussed in a light hearted way without being distracted by others, or indeed by your-self trying to tell you you can’t do it. Just enjoy practicing without expectation.
This main area of the lower back merges with the energy of the spine, and represents relationship. Fears and conflicts to do with our security, our loved ones, family and friends are often found in this part of the body. The pelvis is the centre of movement within us, the area where we can give birth, not only physically but also to ourselves, giving birth to new aspects and attitudes; from here we can also begin the journey upwards through the charkas to higher states of consciousness - Debbie Shapiro
Gems of from Dona Holleman
The outer layers of the back muscles run horizontally away from the spine, the inner layers run vertically along the spine. Let the back widen and lengthen.
The spine elongates from inside if we release tension and allow it to ’un-do’ itself. Using muscular force only stretches the front body. There is a limit to stretching the muscles but no limit to ’un-doing’ or elongation.
Learn to go slower. Learn to do nothing. When we listen to our body there is no chance of injury. Don’t force, but co-operate. Don’t overpower the body but let it flow. Always act with great clarity and affection.
The freedom of the posture comes at the beginning , not at the end. Take the time to prepare the posture so no correction is needed once in the pose. Be attentive only to the moment with no goal in sight.
Sitting- Breath awareness
Diaphragm awareness - Abdominal Breathing - skull poised
Chair work - feet - knee impact (natural suspension) - Leg pendulum and Donkey
Ardha Chandrasana following on with chair
Tadasana - blindfolded
‘If you do Tadasana correctly, you know how to do each Asana correctly’
It serves to align the spine, to reduce exaggerated curves in the spine so that:
a. you can have maximum length between the sacrum (root) and the atlas or occipital
b. the crown of the head is in exact balance on the sacrum root
Then Chi/Prana energy flows without being caught or blocked.
The two places in the spine which are most often blocked are:
a. the lumbar-sacral joint, inhibiting the flow of energy between sacrum and spine
b. the connection between atlas and skull, inhibiting the flow of energy between spine and brain
Many people are weak in the middle region of the trunk (solar plexus) and stiff and unconscious in the four corners (shoulders and hip joints) - Dona Holleman
Suryanamaska with kneeling Virabhadrasana & Dhanurasana working on height and lightness of Hara. (Lifting / Jumping enquiry). Hands on 2 blocks.
Adhumukha Vrksasana using boards - slow control - foot suspension - Hara expressing the form of the waxing moon, with a similar cool gently energy
The Principle Condition For Success
The power needed in Yoga is the power to go through effort, difficulty or trouble without getting fatigued, depressed, discouraged or impatient and without breaking off the effort or giving up one’s aim or resolution. A quiet vigilant but undistressed persistence is the best way to get the sadhana (yoga practice) done - Sri Aurobindo