Anodea Judith, author of Western Body Eastern Mind, wrote that the Earth is the “universal ground for all that we do. Our bodies are the earth of our spirit, the foundation, the home. To connect with the body is to connect with the earth, to be grounded in the biological reality of existence.”
Every day is Earth Day for me as I practise asanas on the mat or during walking breaks on the edge of a cliff or in the shelter of the trees or simply on the ground in my own backyard.
Each asana can bring us back through an evolutionary journey.
Many of the asanas (postures) are mythologically associated with nature and animals. Through mimicking in our exploration of asanas, we can travel back through time.
Begin with imagining the creation of Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Be receptive to what Mountain can teach us: endurance, strength, patience, steadiness and stability.
As you stand in Mountain Pose, ask if your weight is evenly distributed on the feet.
Contemplation of the meaning of “mountain” can evoke obstacles that are too “mountainous” for one to deal with.
Or mountains can symbolize the ascent toward the goal one wants to attain. In the caves of the mountains one can achieve spiritual transformations.
City-dwellers need more than ever in this epoch to be receptive to the Earth’s sacred mountains. We need to free ourselves from urban fetters and live in greater attunement with Mother Earth.
Stand in Tadasana and let yourself be be open to the spirit of Mountain.
What comes to mind as you stand in Vriskshasana (Tree Pose)? Where are your roots spreading? Are they spreading deeply into the earth? Are you getting nourishment?
Trees are the lungs of the Earth. There is a wealth of rich symbolism of trees from many cultures that assists us to understand ourselves and our place in the world.
As you stand in this posture, you can bring meaning to the symbolism through imagery. Trees have their destiny just as we do as human beings. Trees need hardiness in their trunks balanced with flexibility as we do. Their bark and leaves have medicinal properties that heal. The olive branch is one of peace.
Can we carry that symbol in our hearts in our daily lives? Trees live in communities. We also need to live in community and communion with the Earth and each other.
The ancient sages discovered the seed of the tree of life in Yoga, through its eight limbs.
Two hundred million years ago we freed ourselves from the oceans and became amphibious. Practise frog pose and feel what it is like to drag your body on your forearms. Be a cobra on your belly and feel its earth energy without limbs. Discover the new-found freedom of using your limbs as you explore cat, dog, cow.
Ten million years ago or so, man moved on the savannahs with alertness and wariness. Discover what it means to be a warrior in this century through warrior pose.
End with the asana that represents the highest human potential in man: Padmasana (Lotus Pose).
Do not fret if you cannot do the pose perfectly. But use the pose as an exploration of the blooming of consciousness. Remember that the roots grow in the mud but its flower is not sullied by it.
For those who wish to celebrate Earth Day on Sunday, April 20, the Yoga community is presenting an Earth Day celebration with a hatha yoga practice, meditation, chanting and a potluck at the Yukon Arts Centre foyer starting at 10 a.m. Bring a blanket or mat.
Awaken your ecological Self through your own evolutionary journey through time.
Lillian Strauss is a Yoga practitioner, reflexologist, Thai massage therapist, movement and music teacher at Energy Works. For information on her classes, contact her at 393-4541 or [email protected]