Monday, March 16, 2009

The Yoga of Effortless Standing

Since posting on the lifting of the kneecaps, I have had a simple, yet major revelation: In yoga practice we create energy and move into difficult poses by engaging and lifting our muscles. While this is helpful in an Asana practice, lifting these muscles too often will result in strain. Muscle strain produces injury.

Chloe Wing, a senior teacher of the Alexander technique, taught me this: Yoga alignment instructions are not daily life alignment instructions. She said (as I remember it) "Yoga is an ancient and mystical practice created to open the body to [divine] energy. It does not translate to daily function."

I expected a clap of thunder as she said this! I expected her statue of Shiva to leap off the windowsill and disagree! None of this happened. The only changes were my own eyes widening and my engaged shoulders releasing.

In daily life, the body should stand as effortlessly as possible.

Your muscles do not need to grip your bones.

The architecture of the bones can hold you up.

For you to try: Stand tall with your two feet on the floor. Feel the feet, not just what you think they feel like but truly how they feel: warm or cold, heavy or light, asleep or awake. Become aware of your toes and notice how they stream out from your foot without needing to grip the floor. The legs are even and steady. The leg bones stack on top of each other in a comfortable way. Relax your ribcage and shoulders. Forget what you have learned about proper posture, and instead rest and stand in comfort and ease. Let your arm bones hang loose and feel them growing very very long.

Breathe as if you were floating on your back in a clear lake. Stay here for as long as you like and float, effortlessly.

Thank you Chloe!!

No comments: