We have spent quite a few weeks exploring energy themes in our yoga practice. We move back into the body now, and more specifically, the spine. Given that many of our Chakra energy centres were located along the spine, we do not cast this aside, but bring it along with us as we explore directions of motion of the spine and how we experience them. The following link has some nice diagrams showing the five directions of movement of the spine http://sequencewiz.org/2015/03/04/movement-of-the-spine-in-yoga/ .
Last week our focus was primarily axial extension, that sense of lifting up at the crown of the head, creating space along the spine. When standing, this action works in opposition to gravity, so we need to exert some effort to extend the spine upwards. If we are lying on our backs, gravity can help to create a sense of space as we completely relax the body. When standing or seated, we can notice this lifting action results in the weight of the torso being more self-supporting, rather than resting on the pelvis. Hence axial extension helps create more space in the hip joints (and as the upper vertebra lift, in the shoulder joints as well.)
This week we move the focus to spinal rotation and lateral movement, yet axial extension is still there. And it features too in extension (backbend) and flexion (forward bend.) We can notice the difference in effort between a seated twist versus a supine one that harnesses gravity. Where the hips are not well anchored e.g. in standing or kneeling twists (e.g. Revolved Utkatasana), we can draw attention to the natural tendency for the pelvis to also rotate. We can then take action to leave them out of it, to isolate rotation through the spine, and then feel the effect this has. We can reflect on the difference in the mind state too.
Once you let go of the idea that you are trying to reach some final destination, it becomes easier to simply be where you are, noticing, learning, exploring. There is a directional intention to our movements, but as you apply your focused effort, know that you are exactly where you need to be, and enjoy the ride.
Ruth teaches yoga in Cheltenham UK, weaving yoga philosophy into the asana practice to help students connect yoga on the mat to their lives off the mat.