Saturday, June 10, 2006

Calm Abiding

In the course of a long practice session, the instructor calls for vrksasana, Tree Pose. It’s one of the really-basic-everyone-does-it-reasonably-well poses. But we don’t do it all that frequently in the vinyasa classes I tend to frequent. Perhaps it’s too static, too calm. Perhaps it’s too “easy.” It consists, basically, of simply standing on one foot, the other foot propped against the standing leg. From there, you can certainly embroider it, if you want, but that’s the gist of the pose.

The instructor calls the pose. I move into it: left foot flat on the floor, ankle strong and centered, knee in full extension, hip as neutral as if standing on both feet, right foot aligned heel-to-toe along my supporting left femur, toes just reaching the top of the left knee capsule. Right, bent knee drawn back, opening the pelvis. Torso and ribs lifted. Arms, yesterday, clasped hands to opposite elbows behind me, putting a little bend in my lower back. Neck long, chin slightly tucked, lengthening the cervical spine just a little bit more. Gaze one-pointed and steady.

I turn my inward attention to my left foot. It is stable, today. Sometimes I tend to balance on the outer edge of the foot in vrkasana, to counter the weight of the bent right leg. Today, though, my hips make the counter-weighting adjustment, my standing foot quiet, stable, strong.

And I find in the quiet, stable, and strong attention of my foot, the power of yoga. Yoga, as I’ve noted before, is union, yoking together. In vrksasana, now, it is the yoking together of my standing foot and all the immensity of the earth beneath it. Not some metaphysical union, though that happens sometimes. Not even a Whitmanesque conceptual union, though that happens at other times. Just the simple union of two, each strong, quiet, and stable, in contact along a plane of connection, each pressing against and supported by the other. Partner yoga, indeed.

Tree pose teaches rootedness.