I’ve been enjoying doing my yoga practice recently a la Vanda Scaravelli. She’s the Italian yoga teacher who created a style based on simple, natural principles of gravity and the breath.
Vanda wrote Awakening the Spine which is not so much an account of her particular form of yoga as a book of poetry and images.
Although Vanda died in 1999, Diane Long carries on with her work and message. I did a 5-day workshop with Diane and I must say I couldn’t figure out from the way she taught what she was on about. But now, for some reason, the penny seems to have dropped.
There’s a lot to be said for gravity. I think it’s the reason that students enjoy doing savasana; it’s the yoga pose that gets the most parts of your body in touch with gravity – which sends the message loud and clear – you can finally let go.
Judith Lasater, American doyenne of Relax and Renew, has devised all sorts of props to support the body in restorative poses so that there’s no part of you that’s just hovering or hanging in space. You use bolsters, blankets, eye pillows, blocks, sandbags to fill in any gaps so no part goes unsupported.
Vanda taught that gravity was plenty good enough. You just trust and yield to it. And, you can unplug from props; just a yoga mat is enough.
The great Indian yoga teacher, T. Krishnamacharya, said that the navel is the body’s centre of gravity – its still point of equilibrium. Those who practice martial arts will also tell you that the navel is our main energy centre.
Try doing your yoga practice this week giving careful attention to the navel centre, to gravity and ease in your breath. See if being considerate in this way doesn’t help your body accept postures, garner energy and feel more connected.
By samyama on the navel, the yogi acquires perfect knowledge of the disposition of the human body.*
*Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, translation by B.K.S. Iyengar.