by Chrisandra Fox
“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
— Anais Nin
One of my most beloved ideals of a yogi is “one who brings consciousness to that which is unconscious”. A yogini balances the oppositions and integrates the darkness with the light. Moreso, because of this power to transform inertia into essence, a yogi is a Light unto the world.
In a world where many of us live in the deluge of maya, or the illusory appearance of reality, it requires boldness, a risk, a great act of heart to bring forth truth, light and understanding to everyday experience.
A yogi swims against the streams of convention, thinks out of the box and embodies the willingness and courage to cut through the veils of illusion to remember his or her (and other’s) true nature, which is divine and full of light.
One way to practice integrating darkness and light and embodying this new experience is to move awareness from the front body, where we tend to live our lives, to the back body, the unconscious, shadowed and hidden part of our physical, emotional and mental experience.
Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow or Full Wheel Pose) will help you wake up the back body, strengthen your spine and tone some of your organs of action – the arms and legs. Upward Bow can also open and strengthen your chest, the seat of the heart. The seat of the heart is the seat of prana, the life energy that brings life to everything, including that which is stagnant, hidden or unconscious.
This month, prepare to embody the courage and freedom to wake up what is sleeping, and move beyond the limitations of “ordinary experience” into an extraordinary perception of what lives within you, always.
Urdhva Dhanurasana is best practiced after warming up the shoulders, wrists, hips, legs spine and breath.
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and position your feet close to your sitting bones. Bend your elbows and place your hands alongside your ears.
Draw your tailbone toward your pubis and lift your pelvis up off the floor. Inhale, lift onto the crown of your head. Hug your arm bones into your shoulder sockets and draw your elbows in toward one another. Press firmly into the base of your thumbs and index finger, ground into the base of your big toe and spread the weight evenly across the four corners of your feet.
On an exhalation, straighten your arms and legs, lift up into Upward Bow Pose. Slow down your breath.
Lift your heels off the floor and spin your inner thighs toward the floor, widening the back wall of your pelvis. Try walking your feet in toward your hands. Lower both heels to the floor, keep your knees stacked above your ankles.
Stay for 5-10 long, slow breaths. Balance the weight between your hands and your feet, allowing your spine to extend evenly without strain. To lengthen your low back, draw your tail bone gently toward the backs of your knees. Allow the head to fall back between the shoulders, or keep your head lightly lifted in the line of your spine.
As the front body is stretched, soften your belly, your sternum and your throat to encourage even more receptivity in the front. Turn your attention to the back body. Move your tailbone in more deeply toward the pubis and draw your upper buttocks flesh away from your low back area. Continue to widen the backs of your legs, wrapping the outer hips around to the front and narrowing your frontal hips toward one another.
Feel your back ribs buoyant and allow your breath to spread the space between them. Then, draw the scapula away from the spine and more deeply into the back to stabilize your arms and chest.
Now, soften the skin on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet to become more sensitive to their efforts. Then, allow the pressure to increase through your hands and feet to help create more grounding and stability in your arms and legs.
As you gain stability in the arms and the legs, you’ll feel the shoulder blades move more deeply on the back of the chest. Allow the head and neck to release further. Relax your organs of sense, your eyes, inner ears, tongue, even your skin.
To come down, inhale and lift your head and draw your chin in toward your throat. Slowly lower your pelvis to the floor, letting the shoulders and head come down last.
Do a few repetitions. Each time, work slowly and steadily, exploring with courage to light the path of the unknown.
Chrisandra Fox teaches 5 weekly classes at Yoga Tree. Click here for her schedule. She leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats and teaches and mentors students in Yoga Tree’s 200-hour Teacher Training program.
Photography by Faernworks.com