The Hidden Poetry of the Legs (and the introduction to Action)

Standing asanas (utthista sthiti) have a reputation to be demanding and vigorous. They awaken the entire being. In the standing asanas, we learn to bear our own weight. The arms and armpit-chest are extended harmoniously leaving not an ounce of laziness in the body-mind. The intercostal muscles are lifted and the trunk is filled with awareness and breath. This demanding nature of the standing poses obliges one to breathe, for if one holds one’s breath, cramps are not far away. Consciousness intelligises the muscles along the spine. The spinal column and the nerves passing through it are awakened, thus helping the Prana (vital life giving energy) flow without blockages. Every cell (“jiva-koshas” which literally means “life-sacs”) beckons you to arrive, pay attention and respond to the present moment. Yet if there is too much will in the practice, one loses the power to observe and respond. One loses sight of the spirit that cannot be held by will. When the mind is totally aware within the perfect harmony of action and relaxation, just like a tightrope walker, one is released from the dualities of the mind. And in that quietness, you witness your place in this world and your aliveness. Most people are ignorant about the capaciousness of their own body and mind.

ततो द्वन्द्वानभिघातः॥४८॥

Tato dvandvānabhighātaḥ||2.48||

From the practice of the asanas, one is freed from the dualities of the mind ||2.48||

What we call action is the one-pointedness and the coming together of all the senses to the here and now.

Action = matter + movement + consciousness.

Being present means observing and responding appropriately to whatever arises outside of you and within you, now.

If one wants to grow flowers, one begins by paying attention to the soil, the sunlight, the water and the nutrition needed. In the same way, we prepare our inner soil and plant the seeds exposing ourselves to the inner light and allowing ourselves to become sensitive. The flower that grows is not a doing. It is a happening, since our entire being is leaning towards vitality, lightness, awareness, sensitivity and light. When awareness envelops our being, and we realise that our individuality is only an inner experience of separateness, and that half of my lungs are in the tree that is helping me breath, I realise that the tree is half me and I am half the tree. This understanding of interdependence is meditation. It just happens. The gradual deep understanding of non-separateness. That is why it is so important to live in true action, which means responding to the needs of now, to move out of mental decay and towards life.

Through the standing poses we discover how the mind is in the soles of our feet, how the soles of the feet are connected to the earth, and hence how the mind is connected to the earth.

“Nothing in the world can purify as powerfully as wisdom; practiced in Yoga, you will find this wisdom within yourself.” 


Bhagavad Gita