Discover YEM’s Gentle Approach to Tortoise Pose, with Parvati
Breath awareness offers each of us unique and profound insight into who we are and how we are feeling. It connects our inner, personal world of sensations, thoughts and experience, with the outer world that unfolds around us.
One of the more introverted yoga poses, this gentle modification of the forward bending Tortoise pose is a welcome relief at the end of a busy day of “doing”. It moves your awareness away from the external and helps you develop greater internal wisdom. It is also a wonderful pose to start your day, as it cultivates humility, receptivity and the awareness that your relationship with your internal world is reflected back to you through your relationship with your external world. The wise yogi knows that each thought, feeling and idea literally affects the way he/she experiences the moment. This relationship sets the arc and trajectory of your life.
Please remember that the goal of this exercise, and all yoga practice, is not to “work hard” but to get in touch with the true source of power, far beyond your ego and will. Connect to your breath, your body and your spine and witness whatever may arise. Release all tendency to have an agenda. Practice presence. In this allowing, you create a forum within yourself for tremendous healing.
All YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine exercises in this magazine are part of a series, designed to build one exercise upon the next. In following the series in sequence, you gain maximum benefits.
Find a quiet and relaxed environment where you can lie on the floor on a towel or yoga mat.
Begin with Savasana, bringing your breath awareness from the crown of your head through your spine, your arms and hands and right down to your toes. Feel your whole body breathing.
Then bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, hip width apart, and practice The Breathing Wave.
Once you sense ease through your spine, roll onto your right side, use your left hand to press and roll yourself up into a sitting position.
Extend your legs, keeping your knees bent, so that your feet, which are hip width apart, continue to touch the ground. Place your arms between your bent legs and take hold of the tops of your feet.
While maintaining this position, not yet rolling forward, inhale, feel your belly rise. Sense your tailbone tilt ever so slightly back, opening up your pelvic floor.
Exhale, your belly moves inward towards your spine. Your tailbone tilts slightly forward, sensing the energy connection you have with the ground.
Inhale, draw in life force through your crown, as though you have a whale spout, and down your spine, which is like a tube of breath.
Exhale, release energy up towards the crown of your head and allow yourself to feel the downward flow of energy through your pelvis, legs and feet. Allow the energy to move effortlessly, with attention, but without pushing.
While breathing in this manner, draw your awareness to the top of your spine at the base of your skull, behind your throat. Allow your head to gently roll forward, feeling the weight of your head, as it responds to gravity.
Allow yourself to roll forward and down, vertebra by vertebra. Do so slowly, and mindfully. Notice what your spine feels like.
Inhale, draw energy down your spine. Exhale, feel the energy move up and down your spine. Feel your relationship to your breath, the spaciousness within every cell in your body, your spine through which life force travels, and the loving support from the ground.
Allow yourself to roll as forward as is comfortable, keeping your feet flat on the ground, knees loosely by your shoulders.
Wherever you arrive, remain there for several breaths. Allow your breath to become like an internal massage that permeates your body/being.
Breathe in, draw your awareness more deeply down your spine, into the pelvic floor.
Breathe out, feel two-way moving energy, so that the crown of the head and tailbone moves away from each other on the exhale. Enjoy the expansion and ease that occurs as you breathe.
Should you notice tense areas, do not try to get rid of them. Instead, bring attention to them and allow your breath awareness to permeate the areas. Feel the spacious quality of the breath brings healing, loving, acceptance and wisdom there.
Should thoughts or emotions come, watch them pass by without getting tied up in their stories. Each breath is unique. Your breath awareness will guide you to where you need to be.
Listen for when your body has had enough. Just as you listened for the flow into the pose, listen to the natural, effortless impulse to move out from the pose. You are not trying to get away from anything. One moment simply moves to the next. Then, gently roll back up, vertebra by vertebra. Your head is the last to rise.
Inhale as you hug your knees into your chest. Exhale as you sit tall, as though you were breathing out the crown of your head. Let it float towards the sky as your tailbone releases towards the Earth. Chin is slightly tucked into the chest.
After a few breath cycles lengthening your spine, bring your breathing back to what feels normal for you and gently roll up into standing.
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.