By Helena Fahnrich
How can those new to yoga conceptualize the limbs of the body, or the organs of action, i.e. the karmendriyas, to facilitate access to the spine? This is a question I've been rolling around in my head in preparation for the upcoming series. In yoga, it is useful to utilize concepts to facilitate our conscious embodiment because it provides a starting point from which we are able to move deeper into the practice. Together we will explore the positioning of the feet, legs, and hips; the hands, arms and shoulders in order to co-create access to the spine throughout the next 8 weeks.
In Iyengar Yoga we utilize props to help understand asana (postures), this in turn assists our embodiment of the postures - or, another way to think about it is the experience in the pose. What does my knee feel like when my foot is pressing against the wall in warrior 2, for example? How does my chest lift in triangle pose when I use the press of my hand against the block to move my shoulder away from my ear? Furthermore, how do poses affect the psyche, or state of mind? We can use categories of poses (standing, seated, twists, restorative asanas) to study our state of mind. It can be challenging work, and seeking clarity in asana facilitates that work.
Know the karmendriyas are our first props and that we can rely on them always. They give us access to the spine in countless ways in asana. The exploration of props, and the ways in which we position ourselves relative to gravity, provides ample opportunity to study the conscious mind. This in turn generously provides opportunities to observe our parameters and peek into our deeper self.