We never look deeply into the quality of a tree; we never really touch it, feel its solidity, its rough bark, and hear the sound that is part of the tree. Not the sound of wind through the leaves, not the breeze of a morning that flutters the leaves, but its own sound, the sound of the trunk and the silent sound of the roots.
“Root to rise up.” You have probably heard this cue in more than one yoga class. Whether in a standing pose, or seated, connection with the ground beneath you is foundational to what happens above. Well-connected toes, and distributed weight in the standing foot, help keep us from toppling out of Vrksasana (tree) pose. The strength of our legs in Virabhadrasana (warrior) I and II is driven by the anchoring of our feet. Tendons anchor muscle to bone, while ligaments tether bone to bone. Without these connections, there is no push, pull, movement, or stability within the body.
In the Eight Limbed Path of Yoga, the Yamas (things not to do, restraints) and Niyamas (things to do, observances) are the first two limbs; or what I like to think of as, the seeds of my yoga practice. All aspects of daily life are grounded in these restraints and observances: from non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, and non-greed; to purity or cleanliness, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender to something higher.
Yoga is a Life practice, embedded into our relationships with others, this amazing planet Earth, and with ourselves–body, mind, and spirit. On the mat this month, we will play with building stability and extending lines of energy from the ground up whether we are standing, seated, or inverted. Off the mat, we will contemplate how, or where, the Yamas and Niyamas are manifesting in our lives. What do we need more of (grow new roots)? What do we need to let go of (prune away)?
See you on the mat!