Reawakening : Moving Inward
Alder leaf-buds are swollen and reddening, the resilient dandelion is flowering and the Great Mother is stirring in her bed.
Returning light is enlivening. The melatonin and serotonin levels produced by the brain in response to light undergo change in Spring. Consequently, our yoga practice is also changed. Sometimes the sense organs are drawn outward and it is a challenge to stay with the body/breath/mind in yoga asana.
To begin your practice with an inward focus and refined awareness, try this:
Sit with your ankles or shins crossed in front of you. Take some support under you if the lower back does not lift and move into the spine easily. A firm cushion or two yoga foams will do. Some people have special cushions for meditation to support the lift of the spine. They are comfortable but not essential.
Let your ankles, thighs and buttocks descend onto the support beneath you. That Earthen quality is a downward action.
Gently lift the side ribs, the spine and the breastbone. Let the flesh over the rib cage and back body rest downward. Relax the back of the neck, the base of the skull and the scalp over the bones. In this way, the skeletal body becomes the lifted frame over which the skin and flesh rests.
Let the inner body lift gently within the support of the frame. Draw the creative, generative energy of the pelvis up to the heart region. Let the busy energy of the brain descend to the heart region. Now the interior body is lifted and there is a sense of spaciousness within. The Spirit can come into the house of the Self.
Rest the eyes well back into their sockets and let the ear openings and canals soften and withdraw. Relax the tongue on the floor of the mouth. Relax the jaws and the skin of the face over the bones of the cheeks. Broaden and soften the brow and the temples.
The elements of air,fire and ether are associated with the breath diaphragm and emotion, intelligence of the brain and thinking and spirit in that order. When we sit, gazing inward and lifting the outward body to create space within, the busy organs of perception are also resting. Consequently, the frontal brain rests and the breath becomes light.
Observe the arising of breath from the deep abdomen below the navel. Invite the inhalation to come upward and outward to the side ribs. Then sit back and watch to see what happens. Breath cannot be forced. See that your jaws, throat and face remain relaxed. Feel the spread of the ribs both front and back as breath opens the chest. Coax the breath into the upper side ribs, the armpit ribs and under the collar bones. This sequence may take weeks or even months to create. If we can remain relaxed, we have a much better chance of taking a free full breath than if we let the ego take over and push the breath. So stay loose with the effort. It is much more interesting to watch than to be directive.
Start your asana practice once you notice that you have calmed the mind, relaxed the breath and created a sense of inward alertness.