I have always been fascinated by the solitary tree - what is its story, how has it been able to withstand what others seemingly have not, what is its secret?
This week I have been lead to the very same question within my practice? How do we maintain the ease at our centre amidst chaos and struggle without becoming rigid, how do we balance firmness and ease?
My teacher Matthew Sanford always says “Strength without a sense of direction is violence, strength with a sense of direction is grace.” I think this is part of the the key, but how do we explore it in practice.
I want you to start with the sensation you were working on last week, to come back to laying over the rolled blanket, find the softness and ease in the abdomen, the opening in the chest. You have to know the sensation of ease first so you know what you are trying to come back to. Experiment, what is the difference if you belt the legs or not, if you weight the legs or not?
Then play with Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog Pose:-
Notice how using the legs well helps support the ease in the organic body. I have attached a sequence of standing poses - if you want to take this inquiry further see how that remains true in the poses in this sequence, work out the sense of direction first to help you find grace and ease in the pose.
By first finding our sense of direction, looking within, using discernment and recognising what truly moves us then allowing it to guide our action we are able to move sustainably with grace. We are putting our strength (however much or little we have) in service of something rather than wasting it by forcibly trying to push on in a direction that may not be helpful to us.
We are using props, taking support where we need to in order to quieten the noise of effort and look within, to maintain our centre of gravity and reveal our sense of direction. Look again at this second image of the tree from a different angle, notice it is not quite as solitary as it at first seems. Part of how it stands with grace is the deeper connection to something greater than its self sensed deep within its roots. There is community.
In this time of uncertainty I have no wish to add to the noise in this world. I leave these writings for those I have shared Yoga with, so our community may continue and flourish - as ever take what you need and leave the rest...