Thursday, April 28, 2016

Step Lightly into Spring pt. 2

The heat is upon us and the season always brings me back to my childhood summer vacation when the days felt so full and endless when the only thing that mattered was the number of slaps of our jump rope against the softening black pavement, and the sound of our ball dribbling back and forth. My three sisters and I played for hours, with our tanned legs hanging off of our short shorts and ponytails propped up on either side of our heads that rode along like two rebellious teens.
For some reason, we never attempted to bounce a rock, and no one had to tell us that we wouldn't have gotten very far. I guess it's one of those things in life that we know just because we know because it makes complete sense.

But it wasn't until I started to study yoga that I really understood my college physics classes that described why the ball bounced, and the rock didn't. Sir Issac Newton in one of his laws of motion stated, "when one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction of the first body". (Don't worry, this is the end of our physics lesson, other than applying the knowledge to our yoga practice.)

So what about us? When we walk the earth, this lovely round ball that dresses up our galaxy like a grand ornament on a Christmas tree, are we mindful of how Newton's law affect our bodies?

Ideally, when we walk or run (hopefully not to our yoga class) this rebound force can move sequentially through each of our bones, like dominoes from the feet all the way up through to the crown of the head.

But if the weight is held up at our feet instead of being released into gravity than there are other parts of our bodies higher up that will need to do the work of keeping us upright. In such a case,  unfortunately, we will act more like the rock rather than the ball on this earth. 

On the other hand, if we can allow our two feet to release into gravity, and that we have spacious, supple, healthy joints for the force to cleanly move through (for another blog), then we can enjoy more lightness and ease in our movement and be more like the bouncing ball. 

The bones are perfectly designed to take the heat of gravity like a steel rod is to lightening. It's why we have 26 small bones that make up the feet and ankle (that's a quarter of the bones in the whole human body), to help articulate this support and transfer weight accordingly. 

That's really our first step, to walk lighter on this earth is to just bring our awareness to our feet. Just your attention, your awareness will activate the cells in that part of the body and will go a long way towards helping you.

Once your attention is on your feet, standing on your yoga mat, maybe a couple of minutes before one of our fabulous, knowledge, caring teachers begins, push your two feet down a little, gently, and look for the force that moves back into you.

Don't be surprised if you feel absolutely nothing initially. Remember Rome wasn't built in a day and if your anything like me which I know you are because you're human and on some level, we are all the same, patience is another one of those things that require practice.

There's something else you can do for your body to help create more receptivity to gravity. When you're in Savasana, let your attention be drawn to the back of the body and on the exhalation, visualize all six hundred of your bones release down into the earth.

This is the last of our 3 part series on creating a solid, yielding foundation. Do you remember how we got started in this direction?  It was Jayme and her teaching of lock the knee and make it your mantra. Isn't it wonderful the breadth and depth of our yoga practice?  For me, it's refreshing to know that there is simply no end to what I can learn about myself, and with right, focused intention, balanced with a hefty dose of trust and faith, sometimes when I'm most fortunate I can actually feel like I did when I was a kid, bouncing a rubber ball with my 3 sisters. There was no effort then, it was all about the joy.


Maurene C. Merritt,
Another yoga lover at Bikram Stoughton