Here's an article I wrote for the current issue of Equal Standing. Thanks for reading!
The Tantric philosophy that underpins Anusara Yoga teaches that the Invisible makes itself visible by slowing, contracting, enfolding and encoding itself to become embodied life. It steps down through a vibratory spectrum, from pure energy to root and bone, to become our manifest world, to become you and me. This philosophy tells us that we are unbounded light with a gravity laden root.
When a high frequency sound is slowed to a lower frequency, we can hear it and enjoy it as music, language, poetry and so on. Just so, when the Sacred mystery - the Invisible - slows its vibration, it allows the sky to touch the earth, it lets the earth hear the sky. These two, like lovers, continually and perennially meet at the “place in the middle,” (the hridayam - said to be located at the heart center of each of us). “The soul reveals itself to itself through gesture of hand, foot, spine, face and body. The invisible loves the visible.” (Radiance Sutras)
This process of enfolding into the manifest physical form takes tremendous vitality. It is no casual thing to fold the sky into a root. It is no small feat to genetically code pure energy into conception and new life. The vitality and vast energy of the sky that is coiled within us is always and simultaneously yearning to return to the freedom of unbounded light - svatantria. Both the yearning of unbounded light to become gravity laden root and the longing of gravity laden root to become unbounded light, are Love.
The asana named Garudasana, when performed with alignment, energy and understanding, can bring a deep and embodied remembrance and expression of this great love affair between the invisible and the visible.
In Hindu mythology, Garuda is the eagle-god who is Vishnu’s mount. In the great epic Mahabharata, Garuda first bursts forth from his egg and appears as a huge cosmic energy, so vast it frightens even the gods who beg him for mercy. Garuda, hearing their plea and as an act of love (for God so loved the world…..) reduces himself in size and energy, steps down to a manageable dimension.
To perform the pose Garudasana, first stand in Tadasana and invite an opening, a remembrance of unbounded light. Even if you don’t get a great blast of remembrance, the invitation is enough. As Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita – (another part of the Mahabharata) “No effort is ever wasted”. After opening, release heavily earthward from the core of your pelvis through your legs to the four-cornered foundation of your feet to give the sky of consciousness a gravity-laden root.
Next engage muscular energy as you move into the shape of the pose. Bend both knees and recruit a vigorous and springy strength in your legs by hugging muscle to bone. Cross your right leg over your left, hug both legs to the midline and draw muscular strength up through your legs and into your core. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and fold your left arm over your right. Just as you did with your legs, hug in through your arms, draw skin to muscle to bone, draw arms and shoulders to midline and draw in from periphery (wing feathers) to core (wing-bones).
Now enfold the sky deeper by slowly drawing into a squat. Inner spiral your thighs and sit-bones back, root down through tailbone and bring elbows to knees. Pause here to notice the coiled energy of this pose, the encoded light that is your very essence and the spring-loaded yearning of this gravity laden root to return to its prior state of unbounded light. Then, with your body, answer that longing. Root down through strong legs, rise up, straighten and unfold your legs, unfold your wings and reach up into urdhva hasta tadasana (upward reaching mountain pose). Repeat the entire sequence on the second side. To enjoy an even fuller expression of unfolding from root to sky, you can rise up into Virabhadrasana III –(Warrior III or Flying Warrior).
Usually we live and breathe in a very narrow band of the vibratory spectrum. We are somewhat free, and fairly stable. The Invisible is always inviting us towards more – towards Infinite Stability and Infinite Freedom. Asana practice can be a powerful method to consistently and repeatedly push out the edges of what we think we are. Gradually but inevitably, with steady practice, we come to rest in our true foundation – a ground of being which is immense with unbounded light. In this way we are relieved of our own suffering and sense of being “left behind” and we become a lighthouse of remembrance for others.