FOCUS OF THE MONTH: April – Urdvha Mukha Svanasana
Sthira Sukham Asanam.
“The poses bring a feeling of well-being that stays with you. They do so through a balance of effort and relaxation; and through endless forms of balanced meditation.”
This is the start of the idea of achieving deeper understanding of heart and mind by working through our body first, in an effort to enable us to move into Dhyana, the 7th limb of yoga, all in the hope of achieving Samadhi.
In the Ayurveda tradition, each of the Doshas is embodied with specific characteristics. Vata is the element of air and space, responsible for movement both at the physical and subtle levels. Pitta is fire and water, responsible for transformation at all levels of our being. Kapha is earth and water, responsible for the physical structure of the body. These Doshas are also relevant to each season. As we enter into the Kapha season, achieving lightness instead of grounding is a good way to achieve balance. Vinyasa or any practice with heat and movement is recommended during Kapha season. And practices where we connect to our Anahata Chakra, which is our heart center and also an element of air, can be a way for us to open ourselves to change both physically and emotionally.
Bhujanga, cobra, is the first variation of Urdvha Mukha Svanasana. The snake represents the forces of our natural world. As the cobra rises up, it represents opening to receive spiritual energy. Grounded in the earth and open to receive spiritual energy, we meet life with a willingness to embrace all experiences, both positive and negative, as part of our process of learning and awakening.
To achieve Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, press into the tops of the feet to lift the legs and pelvis off of the floor while gazing slightly upward. Press into the hands as you try to move the chest between the arms. However, in Kapha season, we should lift our gaze skyward.
Some ways to help achieve the pose:
1. Engage the bandhas, drawing your pubic bone up toward the navel as your tailbone releases toward your heels, lengthening the low back.
2. Position your hands under the shoulders with your fingers spread wide apart and middle fingers pointing forward. Your upper arms stay in contact with the sides of your rib cage.
3. Lengthen from your toes to the crown of your head, maintaining openness at both the front and back of your body.
4. Draw your shoulders back and down as you guide your chest forward through the gateway of your arms.