When you tell people you do yoga, a general response often features adjectives such as calm, centred and grounded, and an assumption that you embody those aspects and exude them at all times. Firstly, it is challenging to feel grounded when so many aspects of the world around us seem to be in constant state of uprootedness. Secondly, are we fully aware of how exactly our yoga practice can lead to us feeling this sense of equilibrium with gravity and the wider implications this has for our bodies, our well-being and thus creating the potential to lead to a world which also operates from a more centred place.
This month, the flow I am sharing in class in inspired by making a connection to this place in our bodies, feeling expansion of energy and directing our movement from here. So what does it mean to feel centred? So many times in yoga, we hear the same words and phrases but it is only when we begin to explore and experience them with our own senses and within our own body do they begin to really take on any resonance or meaning.
An integral element of the practice is breath. This not only constitutes the inhalation of new oxygen and exhalation of toxins, but also correlates to the movement of energy/prana in the body. If we do not send and spread energy to our limbs, muscles and internal organs then we can experience stagnation and energy becomes stuck. We should think of ourselves as one, whole living thing and no part of our body being separate from another. When we breathe from our centre, we promote stillness and our movements take on an expansive quality, feeling our breath as starting from the base of the pelvis and rising up and moving outwards.
Our centre also corresponds to our midpoint of gravity. This is where we can begin to feel grounded and balanced and so forming a relationship with our core can take us to a place where we feel less influenced by instability around us. When we think of the earth’s core, this is the place where heat is created and energy is stored before it expands outwards. It may be the same in our bodies. So often when we hear the word ‘core’ in a yoga class, we think only of our stomach and perhaps those very long, five breaths holding Navasana/boat pose. Yet, our core is not only restricted to our abdominals but actually involves other, deeper and intrinsic muscle groups. It is activation and awareness of these parts which can in turn cultivate more strength, balance and flow of energy both in our practice and in our lives.
Once we place our focus on an area of the body, feel the breath and feel the movement from this place, we might be able to take ourselves a little deeper, to feel a little more and to find our roots.
“In the vessel of your body, you yourself are the world tree, deep roots in the Earth and a crown of stars. Your essence bridges dimensions.” – Elizabeth Eiler.