YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, by Parvati
Interconnection and humility go naturally together. The more we feel our interconnection, the more humble we become, knowing that we can never exist separate from it all. The more humble we are, the more we can sense our interconnection. Wonderfully, we can cultivate both at the same time through the practice of yoga. Malasana, or Garland Pose, is an example of this. The balancing crouch allows us to practice balance while staying low to the ground, anchored in humility.
A mala is a garland. But the word also refers to a necklace of 108 beads, used for the repetition of mantras. Malasana reminds us that as we bow in humility, the smaller the shadow we cast. As you do this pose, let your breath guide you into a sense of interconnection with all things. Imagine that you are a humble bead playing your small part on an infinite string of life’s mala. At the same time, remember that you are also the entire garland, whole and complete within yourself. Allow your breaths to flow, one into the next, like a string of mantras that you offer to the divine, the essence of love in all things.
This asana massages your lower body, benefiting circulation and elimination while directing life-force energy into the upper body. It beautifully lengthens your spine, as your lower back releases to the ground and the crown of your head floats to the sky. It opens your ankles, groins and hips while toning your belly and all the internal organs there. Here, we will practice a modified version of this pose that allows you to focus on your breath and spine.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Bring your awareness to two-way moving energy. Inhale, draw life-force energy through the whale spout at the crown of your head. Sense or visualize life-force energy descending through your spine, through your body/being toward your center of gravity, just below your navel.
- At the navel, pause. Then exhale and feel that life force energy split in two. It travels up your spine and out your crown toward the heavens, while simultaneously travelling down through your legs, out your feet and into the Earth.
- Breathe in, and feel life-force energy travel down your spine. Exhale, and feel it move in two directions. Practice this two-way moving energy for a few breath cycles, feeling your tailbone tilt naturally backwards as you inhale and forward as you exhale. Sense or visualize that your body/being is a neutral conduit for life-force energy.
- Breathe in, and allow your arms to float up so that they extend straight forward from your relaxed shoulders, palms down.
- Bend your knees deeply, bringing your hips to your heels so that you are balancing on the balls of your feet.
- Let the balls of your feet and toes broaden, rooting you to the Earth.
- Feel yourself connecting with the ground that nourishes and sustains you.
- Feel open and present through your chest and heart.
- Allow your crown to soften as it floats effortlessly upward, receptive to the cosmos.
- Your spine lengthens toward the sky as you bring your hands in prayer over your heart, releasing your tailbone toward the ground.
- Keep your chest open, allowing your shoulder blades to slide down the back of your body.
- Breathe in through the crown of your head; allow for two way moving energy. Feel both physically and energetically anchored in your centre of gravity, just below your navel.
- Allow your whole body to become a conduit of life-force energy.
- After a few long breaths, conclude the pose by gently releasing your hands and rolling back into sitting, feeling grateful for the practice.
Parvati is an award-winning musician (I Am Light, Electro Yog, Yoga In The Nightclub), yogini (YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine), author (Aonani of Avalon, Three Supreme Secrets for Lasting Happiness) and founder of the not-for-profit Parvati.org. All her work is dedicated to protecting all life on Earth by establishing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS). More info: parvati.tv; parvati.org.