Like a gardener I believe what goes down must come up. –Lynwood L. Giacomini
A gardener may believe that what goes down must come up, but a yogi believes that what goes down, and how decisively it goes down, determines what comes up, and how high.
Connections between gardening and yoga are, it seems, as plentiful as seeds on a sunflower.
In the garden of our practice, we cultivate our poses. Sometimes we have to pull out weedy bad habits. Always we have to till, prune and water. Neglect usually results in decay, but sometimes, as with a perennial tucked away in a far corner, poses bloom when we least expect them to.
And then there’s patience: in a garden, as in a yoga practice, nothing happens overnight.
But of all the links from your mat to your garden, nothing is more fundamental than understanding that what goes down must come up.
Learning to root down will revolutionize your yoga practice because it gives you the ability to lift up and create space in your body.
In essence, whatever body part is in contact with the floor presses down.
In standing poses the rooting is in your feet. In downward dog, your hands and feet, in headstand, your forearms and the crown of your head, in straight-leg seated poses, your sitting bones and legs.
Why does rooting work?
Think about a tennis ball. Drop it and it will bounce, a little. Hurl it to the ground and it will fly back up again, the size of the rebound a mirror image of the force that sent it to the ground.
The next time you take a pose, first find the root. Take your mind to the place that goes down. Press it down for a long moment, and see what lifts.
Do you have a favorite, not-so-obvious way to root in a particular pose? The upper leg foot in Ardha Matsyendrasana, perhaps? (Although if you clicked to see the picture, you’ll have to imagine the bottom foot turned sideways, and supporting the buttocks, not out to the side. Please share.
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Bite-sized Random Acts of Yoga continue to amuse and delight me every morning.
This morning’s poses had some obvious links – the long side ribs in each, for example, and the inward rotation of the upper thighs in both Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (over a chair, feet to the floor for the Jr. I syllabus) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (also over a chair in this syllabus).
Lately I’ve been working to keep my feet from turning out when I push up into Urdhva Dhanurasana by holding a wood brick between my upper thighs. With the brick, it’s hellishly difficult to lift off the floor in the full pose. Clearly, I’ve been compensating. But in the chair, as long as I take time to position the brick so its top edge is just at the top of my thighs, I can feel the inner thigh work strongly.
How pleasant, then, to come t0 Supta Konasana, and feel the same sensation of the upper thighs, active, rolling towards each other and pulling back toward the hip socket.