Breathe: This practice centres on the oscillation of the breath as a full body experience. By learning to tap into our essential, natural breath, we can fundamentally change how we stand, move and express ourselves. Asanas become vehicles for prana or life force energy to travel through: the key to how much, how far and how long all lie in the breath.
Yield: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. We are tethered to the earth bound by gravity’s law yet, paradoxically, that clear relationship to the earth allows us upright buoyancy. When we find the support of gravity and the support of space, the clear action of yield becomes the middle path in a larger cycle.
Radiate: Our deep navel centre (also called the hara, tan tien or dan tien) is a place of power and deep-seated presence. The connection from the centre outwards and from all six limbs inwards forms the basis for all movement. In yoga we connect with these inner channels and allow energy to flow through them. This helps us access the fluidity within all form and cultivates a flow that is both anchored and stable.
Centre: Over the course of human evolution we grew a vertical core called a spine. We orient to this midline in order to feel centred, balanced and stable. Like many of our body tissues, the spine is a miracle of nature. Learning about spinal patterns transforms our posture and movement and helps us reclaim our effortless uprightness.
Support: We find support from many systems and rhythms in our bodies, as from gravity, from space, from existence and from each other. Exploring support is a main theme of this work as instructed by Patanjali almost two centuries ago when he wrote Stirham Sukham Asanam: the posture of meditation should be steady and comfortable.
Align: Donna speaks of structural alignment (setting up the train tracks) and engaged alignment (running force over those tracks). Our bones provide a natural trellis in the body. When we sequence force clearly, muscles stream along bones so that movement is supported and full of powerful ease. Our fascial network creates the multi-dimensional web that simultaneously connects and separates all of our tissues. Alignment is a moment to moment experience in a mature practice.
Engage: The promise of yoga is that we can be happy, healthy and whole. The original yogis were seekers as well as scientists. They mapped our inner workings and offered us a practice that helped us bring all the parts of ourselves to the table. How can we honour that in contemporary yoga? What would it be like to expand our vision of the body beyond muscles, bones and breath? How could we engage our entire selves in the practice of the practice?