This post is part of Sadhana, a 26-week exploration of each of the Namaste Yoga sequences. It’s never too late to join! All that is required is to try a new Namaste sequence each week – and don’t forget to post about your experiences to be entered in our monthly contests. Read all the Sadhana posts here or connect with others participating in Sadhana on our Facebook wall.
“Let us meet in a space with no fences, endless sky, boundless potential, opening from the heart.” ~ Kate Potter
Has there ever been a creature on earth who could fly without ever having tested their wings? As humans, this is foreign territory! Because it is an unchartered personal voyage, it is intriguing. Yogis aspire to fly. Arm balances provide the vehicle in which yogis can soar.
The problem is, you have to be patient and able to focus on the minutiae of your being to be able to do it. It is easy to get stuck in this one place, determined to accomplish this NOW. But there is a path to be travelled here. A journey for you to go on, with many sites to see and adventures to be had as you go. Along the way, you will find your strengths, and your weaknesses. You will learn how to strengthen those weaknesses and, long before your toes ever lift from the ground in crane balance, you will start to fly.
Starting with the breath body link, you must tune into your breath. This focus is so important. Perhaps the most important lesson in Crane is how to let all the nagging thoughts and distracting tension slip from your mind, so you can fully focus on this moment and the breath. Raise the arms up, take in a full, clear breath, slide the arms down to your body, and bring that clarity along with it.
Yoga mudra Forward Fold is a pose for unwinding. Let go of any anxieties and feel the openness of the chest and shoulders. Lowering into Crouch with the hands at the Third Eye reminds you to maintain this focus. Open your mind. There is nothing you cannot accomplish! It is time to take note and appreciate all the gifts of life.
Tune in now to Crane. The placement of your hands is SO important. The hands become the base of your body, every aspect of them is needed and critical. In Ayruveda, the middle finger represents space. Push that finger firmly into the earth. It is as though it is a secret launch button for your whole body!
When you get the balance, it is great! If only for a moment, you are flying! Balanced, strong and stable. When you don’t get it, take note of why. This is where you get to know an unexplored facet of yourself. Do your legs move away from your body when you lean forward? Is one side of your body weaker? Maybe you have the posture on the right side of your body, but not on the left? Maybe your arms didn’t stay quite solid as you placed the weight on them? Maybe your core wasn’t contracted, your spine not rounded or too straight… a thousand things to look at! You may practice a thousand times before you fly. That’s great!
Every time you try, you can learn something new. This is the practice for fine-tuning your whole self. Your finding your perfect balance, optimizing your strength, centering the mind and body… and freeing the spirit by not punishing yourself for what you didn’t accomplish. The path has no end, anyway. As limitless as you are, the list of challenging poses you can pursue are equally limitless! There is time for this journey. Enjoy it before travelling to the next, as all that you learn here will aid you in the next adventure.
However that last pose turned out, it is time for a glorious Forward Fold. Ahhhh… Soon you will learn to move through the last challenge, the nurturing reward, and into a new challenge: Knee to Chest pose. Balance is so critical! Now we must use this new position to explore it on each side of the body.
“The quality of the breath will determine the quality of the movement, so let’s make it soft,” Kate says.
Now there is another way to fly. Warrior III and Extended Leg Balance give you different ways to soar, and discover the subtleties of being able to do that. You feel such energy in the legs, as if refreshed by the moment your arms relieved them of their duties.
You learn in time how to make these little shifts, and then you have it! The lesson is not in the fall; but in the rise and return to center. Never give up!
Lao Tzu once said, “many people give up, when they are just about to succeed.”
Notice in Savasana how you are more aware of every fiber and nuance of you. Kate guides you through relaxation, and asks you to even feel a new softness to your hair. This heightened awareness makes it all possible.
Even if you didn’t find Crane today, think of all that you did find. Celebrate that! Congratulations on your Sadhana in flight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather Gregory is an avid Namaste yogini and has been practicing the sequences nearly every day for three years. We enlisted Heather to embark on Sadhana, our 26 -week journey, and blog about each sequence. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org