If you are not familiar with ‘inner body’ awareness, close your eyes for a moment and find out if there is life inside your hands. Don’t ask your mind. It will say, ‘I can’t feel anything.’ Probably it will also say, ‘Give me something more interesting to think about.’ So instead of asking your mind, go to the hands directly. By this I mean become aware of the subtle feeling of aliveness inside them. It is there. You just have to go there with your attention to notice it. Your may get a slight tingling sensation at first, then a feeling of energy or aliveness. If you hold your attention in your hands for a while, the sense of aliveness will intensify. Some people won’t even have to close their eyes. They will be able to feel their ‘inner hands’ at the same time as they read this. Then go to your feet, keep your attention there for a minute or so, and begin to feel your hands and feet at the same time. Then incorporate other parts of the body- legs, arms, abdomen, chest, and so on- into that feeling until you are aware of the inner body as a global sense of aliveness.
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
That was where we began class this week. Since my inspiration this week was metaphorical- preparing the soil for the seeds we will be planting and growing in the rest of 2013- this passage from A New Earth served to anchor our practice in our bodies rather than our minds.
Spring is a time of renewal, and I find myself excited and inspired annually at this time. I have had a backyard vegetable garden for a few years now, and the process of preparing, planting, and tending that garden has connected me more deeply to the unique qualities of this part of nature’s cycles. I’ve become more aware of how my efforts in the garden can serve as a template for renewal in many areas of my life- and how those efforts can be bolstered by the prevailing conditions of the season.
As any gardener knows, before you can begin planting the seeds and watching them sprout, you must uproot the weeds and prepare the soil. Our practice, therefore, comprised of grounding, standing postures and special attention to the flow of apana vayu. Standing postures activate and balance the root chakra, which governs our sense of security, stability, and safety. A healthy root chakra is an essential foundation.
Apana vayu, one of the five “winds” or aspects of the life force, is associated with the lower abdomen and pelvis and relates to eliminative functions. Shedding, of sorts. It is the downward-flowing energy that allows the old to be released and transform into the fertilizer for the new to grow. Staying in the “inner body” awareness where we opened our practice together, we used various standing postures to explore apana vayu and connect with this “shedding” energy that enables renewal. To learn more about apana vayu and yoga postures that activate it, check out this article from the Himalayan Institute.
I’ve created a Pinterest board to gather my “spring cleaning” inspirations. As I said, this is one of my very favorite times of the year, so I’ll be keeping you posted on my progress throughout the next few weeks. Stay tuned…
Namaste, yoga lovers!