Friday, December 14, 2012

More on Mountain

Wednesday, we were introduced to Mountain by simply standing and observing. Today, we'll get a little more instruction on Mountain - if you're ready. If not, simply go now and stand and observe again for 5 minutes. Seriously, set your timer for 5 minutes. Does it seem like an eternity once your standing there?

Here are some of the basics of Mountain. As you make each adjustment with your body, see if you notice a difference in your mountain. Maybe you don't really 'get' one of the instructions. That's ok. If there's one thing I've learned as a teacher is that the same 3 words strung together can mean something entirely different for each person in class, and one day, you say something very slightly different and one student will go "Oh!" and you know the body finally understood. Give your body time and space for exploration.
  • Stand on two feet. 
  • Let your sitting bones drop toward your heels: Your sitting bones are those bones in your seat that you feel when you ride a bike. Letting them drop toward your heels allows the back of your pelvis to drop, lengthening your low back. The pelvis is important here. You want avoid the old "stand up straight" misnomer where you stick out your chest and your bottom and throw your body into a painful imbalance. You also want to avoid the classic tucking of the pelvis that allows the hips to jut forward, shoulder blades to drop toward your hips and shoulders to round forward. 
  • As your sitting bones drop toward your heels, you legs press down into your feet which are anchored to the floor through the heels and bases of big toes and little toes. Avoid locking your knees.
  • Shoulders drop away from your ears.
  • Lift your chest - not by throwing your shoulders back. Put your fingers at the top of your sternum (breast bone) where the collar bones meet; just under the hollow of your throat, and pretend to pull straight up, lifting the breast bone as you go.
  • Lift through the top of your head (probably the same instruction as above using different body parts).
  • Your arms can hang at your sides, or you can try any number of variations with the arms, finding the position that helps to ground Mountain most solidly. You can let your arms hang at your sides, rest your hands on your chest, bring your hands to prayer at heart center, or face palms forward, reaching toward the floor with your elbows.
  • Close your eyes if you like.
  • Come back to your breath and back to your center. 
Eventually in Mountain, you may feel your feet spread and settle heavily into the floor, feeling the Earth's energy coursing up through the souls of your feet. This energy pulls your legs down into your feet, anchoring you to the floor, freeing your upper body to lift effortlessly toward the sky. When you find balance in this pose from the inside out, it becomes effortless. Full disclosure: It took years for my mountain to really ground and grow roots. Give it time!

Today may not be effortless. Accept that and breathe into it. You may feel stiff or you may sway. You may find yourself locking your knees or throwing your shoulders back. Each time you discover your body doing any unnecessary work, gently remind yourself to release.

Standing tall like a mountain that has endured through the ages and will endure into a time we will never see can help to connect you to something bigger than yourself.

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