The power of birth – the burst of a flower into bloom, the unfolding of a new season, the start of a yoga practice or the literal birth of a new being into the world – is an intelligent process that can bring openness, trust and patience when we surrender and allow the creative life force to be born through us.
In our asana practice, this process relates to how we might align our bodies first to harmonize the flow of apana vayu – the grounding, releasing and eliminative force of the body and mind – before harnessing the energies that invigorate us and draw our life force up toward the heart and brain. For example, when we root through our feet and connect with the earth, we can embody an easeful quality of stability that keeps us centered as we access the more dynamic, activating and transformative nuances in a pose.
In the process of rebirthing the consciousness through awakening kundalini, or “she who lays coiled, or sleeping”, we must first stabilize and calm the mind before activating the solar energies of the body that purify the subtle channels and awaken this dormant spiritual force. Then, ultimately, the work is in becoming absorbed into the process rather than trying to control it.
Nature teaches us how to surrender to the power of birth by creating space around the process. Mama mammals will find a dark, quiet, private space so they can do the work of birthing instinctually, without being watched. Yogis historically sought out caves and forests, trusted teachers and supportive sangha – spiritual community – to safely engage in the deep, internal practices of awakening consciousness, which may take a lifetime or more. In birthing a project, like a book, a business or a new relationship, there is a period during which we gather all our energies to massage it into form, but ultimately must allow the project to take on a life of its own, sometimes not on our timeframe. Intuitively, we know that the work of birthing requires making space inside as well as out if new life is to be born through us and transform us.
Whether we surrender to the process of birthing a baby, adopting a daily sunrise meditation practice, a consistent yoga practice or a 6-month teacher training, inherent in each of us is an intelligence that knows – or can remember – how to give birth.
This month’s pose features Baddhakonasana (Bound Angle Pose), which helps stimulate the organs of the belly, especially the reproductive organs, bladder and kidneys to help improve circulation throughout the body, especially the downward flow of energy. This seated pose stretches the inner thighs and knees, opens the hips, soothes sciatica and can reduce menstrual pain. And, practiced consistently, Baddhakonasana can help prepare a woman, or a yogi, for the immense task of accessing the intelligence of the body to open, surrender and harness the power of letting go – during birth – or during any time of deeply receiving new life with courage, trust and grace.
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs extended. If your pelvis naturally rocks back, sit up on the edge of a blanket or two so that your pelvis remains upright. Bend both knees, bring the soles of your feet together and drop your thighs out to the sides.
Root down through the base of your pelvis as you lift the upper border of your sacrum lightly in toward the front of your body to help keep that neutral alignment in your pelvis. Press your heels and the bases of your toes against one another to activate your thighs. Release the heads of your thighs toward the earth. Resist the urge to push your knees to the ground; instead, lightly lift your knees up, drop your thigh heads down and allow the weight of your thighs to release from the upper part of the thigh first.
If the knees still float up off the floor, place a rolled blanket, sticky mat or a block beneath your outer thighs for support.
Lift and lengthen your spine, and draw your chin in lightly toward the center of your throat to contain the energy in your torso. You can maintain this seat, or fold forward at the hips and release your torso toward the floor. Rest in the space you have created, allowing your inhales to swirl around in the base of your pelvis, stimulating circulation and opening. With your exhalations, let your loving attention travel toward your heart and rest in this sweet open space with ease.
Chrisandra will teach the following classes in May before going on maternity leave for a few months: Saturdays, May 4th and 11th, 11:15am-12:45pm at Yoga Tree Valencia. She is a core teacher in Yoga Tree’s Teacher Training Program and offers Tantric hatha yoga modules through 8 Drops Yoga Advanced Trainings at Yoga Tree. Stay in touch! Chrisandra@gmail.com
Next month, I am embracing the process of letting go of a few things to make space for our baby. Enjoy the Pose of the Month with Sean Haleen, who will be writing this column. Thank you for your readership! With love, Chrisandra
Photography by Lucy Baker