by Kara-Leah Grant
Welcome to the second in this series of Yoga Explorations.
This week we’re going to continue building on our sequence while exploring a second pair of breath movements.
Tuning into these two breaths – inhaling and cultivating the core, exhaling and radiating through the limbs – helps us to find strength and integrity in postures.
But for many of us, tuning into the breath movements within the pose can be difficult.
We struggle to keep our awareness on the breath as it moves in and out of the nostrils, or to feel the breath in our lungs, let alone feel it anywhere else in the body.
However, through the use of body vinyasa we can access the way breath moves within each pose.
Once we’ve got a sense of that movement on a more gross level, we can come into the posture and feel it on the subtle level.
What’s body vinyasa? This is moving part of the body within a posture in a way that mimics the movement of the breath in that posture.
Or, as Shiva Rea defines it:
“Using limbs: arms, legs, torso with the flow of breath to highlight energetic alignment and awaken the flow of prana.”
In plankasana, as Shiva likes to call high plank, and Chaturanga Dandasana the key energetic alignments are cultivating the core and radiating the limbs out from the core.
For many of us, these energetic movements within the body haven’t yet ‘turned on’. We don’t know how to cultivate our core. We might have heard about Uddiyana Bandha* but we don’t really understand how it works or know how to keep it engaged in postures. Plus, when we get into a weight-beared posture like high plank we’re focusing on using our strength to hold ourselves up because it’s bloody hard!
There is another way.
And a way that doens’t require brute strength.
In both cases, we use body vinyasas that move limbs and mimic the energetic alignment of the posture.
Plus you get a chance to spend time exploring a variation of Upward Dog because we take the weight-bearing element out. This allows time to really feel what’s going on in the pelvis and the spine during this posture – and gives us an opportunity to use body vinyasa to unlock the energetics of the pose.
If you can get this, it can unlock all kinds of things in your yoga practice. Core cultivation and radiating from the core play out in almost every pose we do.
Activate this energetic alignment and your practice comes alive!
This week’s video is free for anyone to watch, as was last week’s.
Insiders also get access to the Forty Days of Yoga Facebook Support Group, where people can share their experience of the practice, what day they’re up to, and ask questions about the practice.
Video Exploration #2 with Kara-Leah Grant
Cultivating the Core & Radiating through the Limbs
Now you’ve watched the video, here’s your Om-Work for the Week
Week #2 Om-Work: Take what you learned from Week #1 – Tadasana and Uttanasana, and add Week #2 to the flow, stepping back into Plankasana, down to Chaturanga Dandasana and inhaling up into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward dog) variations.
Now you’ve got the beginning of a sequence.
Focus on playing with the two breath pairs we’ve learned – Ascending & Descending Breath, and Cultivation & Radiation.
Go slowly through each posture, taking time to explore and play, surrendering to the flow of breath and allowing your body to open and move as it needs.
Do this every day this week.
You may end up going on to do more postures. Or you may just go into shavasana afterwards.
*What’s Uddiyana Bandha?
It’s a lock or seal within the torso. The belly is lifted in and up, scooping energy from the navel and tucking it under the ribs.
Any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll respond. It’s likely that if you have that question, other people do too.