Your body is the journey, and it is where you begin. It is your connection to the physical world, your foundation, the home of your dance. You are the place from which all action and understanding will arise and to which it will return. You are the testing ground of truth. – Anodea Judith, Wheels of Life.
What we call home is an idea we create within ourselves. Our connection to a physical space, inanimate surroundings, and the people we love undergo the change and flux of the universe. We can’t always control our surroundings or rely on those who support us; by creating a sense of stability and safety from within, we learn how to self-soothe and regulate intense emotions.
The body is our initial connection to the earth, and yoga is a tool to shift how we feel. We can always come back to the practice- be it asana, pranayama, or meditation. We might use these as tools to shift states of dis-ease. The practice allows us to come back to a place where we are grounded and feel a sense of belonging.
This week Clara and I focused on yoga poses that build strength in the legs and abdomen. We talked about a pranayama/breath exercise to slow the heart rate and deepen the breath. We shared the rituals we do after a busy day or a day of travel.
You have many chakras (intersection of energy lines) in your body. We, as yogis, focus on seven that run up our main energy channel known as Sushumna.
In this series, explore each chakra with unique classes geared towards lighting them up.
CRO–When we connect to our root chakra, in terms of the yoga practice, we deal a lot with the legs, connecting to the legs, and feeling the connection to the earth itself.
SDT–Why is an earth theme and connecting to the root chakra something we want to work with at this time of year?
CRO– This is usually a time of year when many people get physically burnt out because they’re doing all of the fun, physical activities that they do outside. And to balance that energy, we want to create a slower moving, a darker, heavier class to kind of counter the excitement that we’re experiencing outside.
CRO– One of two ways I theme with earth classes is with a lot of standing leg poses and warrior poses. I would include a lot of hip openers. I would have a longer floor series, the lunar part of the class, and I would include a lot of forward folds to invite a space for introspection.
SDT–Tell me about Anna Forrest and Forrest Yoga, which you add to your sequences, and what Forrest Yoga supports and strengthens?
CRO– I love Forrest Yoga for the therapeutics that work specifically around the lower back and activating and stretching the psoas, which I think are two things that we don’t pay enough attention to in yoga.
One of the things Ana Forrest gets people to do is to create a roll by rolling up a mat or a blanket. The roll is rolled up and placed between the thighs. I sometimes use a block. And the deep core work comes from hugging in at the upper inner thighs around the block. If you’re a member on the site and you’ve done the core work classes, most of that is on Forrest Yoga.
SDT–Parvati is the Goddess who symbolizes the Earth and is a deity I would associate with the root chakra. Can you talk a bit about Parvati’s relationship with Shiva and what they create together?
CRO– I call Shiva the patron Saint of yogis. He’s the meditator and quite the rebel. He’s dancing the Tandava, which is a dance of destruction and transformation, or he’s seated in meditation. What he does is he goes to Mount Kailash, and he lives in this cave. He goes up to this cave, and he sits there for centuries at a time, meditating.
When he’s meditating, he’s connecting to higher consciousness. Parvati, his wife, gets annoyed, and she starts to get bored because her husband is off meditating and not spending time with her.
So Parvati goes to find Shiva in deep meditation. Nobody can wake Shiva from his meditative state, but Parvati goes to him, and she begins to dance and move all around him. She has a particular scent, and it’s the scent of her perfume and the dance that pulls him from meditation.
Parvati symbolizes the earth, and she also symbolizes the ultimate partner or the ultimate wife. Parvati is very disciplined, and some stories share how Parvati started being a spiritual practitioner at the age of three or four. She surpasses Shiva in terms of how enlightened she is or connected to the divine, so Shiva is attracted to that aspect of Parvati. She is his equal or a little bit above in terms of her spiritual practice.
SDT–What are some rituals that help you ground after a long day?
That’s the thing that I do, usually when I show up in a hotel room or when I’m travelling. Then usually, if I’m fortunate enough to have a bath, I’ll immerse myself in water.
SDT–What are some pranayamas that have a grounding effect?
The other pranayama I would recommend would be bhramari breath or bees breath. I would place my hands on the lower abdomen or hands-on thighs and then hum down into that area.
The last one would be a moving meditation that’s kind of like a Tai Chi movement. You stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and inhale hands upwards toward the sky and exhale hands back down toward the ground. I would do this standing to feel my feet on the ground and connect to the stability of the earth.
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