October 22, 2016

Take a Yogic Journey through the 4 Seasons

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 3.29.01 PM

I’m focused on the breath and the present moment.

I’m lost in the mantra, the center of my palms buzzing with energy, my temples alive with the vibratory rhythm induced by the repetition of the sacred sound.

The pace speeds up, and I surrender to the rhythmic quality of the vibrations, immersing myself fully into the auditory crescendo as the repetitions become louder and faster.

Without warning, the pace slows dramatically and the volume drops. Silence and stillness reign. The internal space that awakens, pregnant with power, induces a delicious sensation of well-being.

I feel alive, present, connected, vibrant.

Whilst reading Gabrielle Roth’s Maps to Ecstasy I suddenly realized that the power of Hatha Yoga could be attributed to the very structure of the core movements that comprise a session and the energy dynamics with which we engage. My friends and students often share the feeling of being somehow transformed by the end of a session. Although I am acquainted with the science behind the principle of asana, it has taken me over a decade—of practicing and teaching—to begin to understand the transformative power of Hatha from a different, more holistic perspective.

By flowing with the dynamics that characterize a Hatha session, the practitioner embarks on a journey from a state of disequilibrium to an authentic perception of harmony by end of class.

The sequences we follow mirror the cycles in nature. These are the impulses and phases of life: the animation of new life in spring, the intensity of the energy of summer, the slowing down and change that characterize autumn, the reflective silence and solitude of winter.

We unconsciously tap into all of these impulses every time we engage in our practice.

In the first series of movements—the sun salutations—there is a direct correlation to yin energy through allusion to the sun. This phase is characterized by limbering up the system, waking up the body, stretching, strengthening and flowing with the breath—movement and breath in harmony. On a macro-cosmic level, this sequence represents the energy of spring. The sun salutations are the equivalent of the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, of the bird’s egg hatching, of the joyous caress of the sun on your skin.

The sun salutations, like spring, are a preparatory phase. We are preparing for the deeper movements to follow. In life, we are preparing for the challenges we will face.

The next phase of the class ushers in the intensity of the backward bends, which are physically more demanding than their forward-bending counterparts. There is a perceptible shift in energy—focus and concentration are palpable. At this point, our resolve is strengthened and we are encouraged to move outside of our comfort zones. The backward bends embody the energy of summer. The vibrant and almost relentless glow of the sun or the creative flurry of editing a final draft. Similarly, there are moments in life where we are propelled into ceaseless activity and we experience a heightened sense of creativity and output.

This phase of the class cannot continue perpetually. We naturally require time to recover—time to replenish and re-balance after this period of increased productivity. In a Hatha session, this shift from movement to stillness is represented by Vajrasana—my absolute favourite—the transition pose between the powerful, energizing backward bends and the centering, calming forward bends.

Vajrasana, or kneeing pose, is a place where we can come into our being. The attention draws inward to the point between our eyebrows—the third eye—and a kaleidoscope of colours begins to unfold. We’re somewhere else completely, yet totally at home. Paradoxically, we feel like we’re outside of our body, yet never so present within it. The pulsating energy of the backward bends is but a distant memory and our being begins to shift into silence—contemplative and meditative. We begin to move deeper into stillness; we embrace the energy of autumn, the energy of change.

There are a few purifying twists, then the complete release occurs in yoga nidra with the calming effects of pranayama breathing techniques. This is where we come to recharge and replenish our energy reserves—both physical and emotional.

To conclude, a gentle chant sending vibrations of peace and love to the entire universe and a silent meditation: winter. Activity gives way to ostensible dormancy. We are invited to revel in the intensity of silence now that our capacity for introspection and contemplation are heightened.

There is something comforting about knowing that phases of intensity, exertion and ceaseless action will pass—that inevitably quieter, more reflective times will follow. The beauty of Hatha yoga is that it helps regulate disrupted cycles in our physical or emotional lives.

The class, like the seasons and the cycles in life, has come full circle. We are back where we began, immersed in a seed of silence that we can only hope will germinate into a fragrant flower of equanimity.




5Rhythms Dance: a Moving Meditation. {Video}


Author: Anne Marie Morello

Image: @elephantjournal on Instagram

Apprentice Editor: Cori Carlo; Editor: Toby Israel


Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Anne Marie Morello