I just spent two weeks in Peru leading a yoga retreat with Jordan Mallah, and during that time I had the extraordinary experience of being led through a new year’s ritual by the official shaman of Machu Picchu, Kucho. As he was talking about the underlying beliefs of Incan spirituality, I had the very tripped out experience of translating for him into English words that Jordan and I had spoken to our group only a few hours before. There was so much in alignment between his worldview and our teachings, it was astounding.
One of the things that Kucho talked about was that at any given moment, our being is a point where a horizontal and vertical axis meet. The horizontal axis represents knowing, he said (translate: cit) and the vertical represents being (translate: sat). The point where they meet is the bliss of the heart (translate: ananda). Kucho explained that as our understanding and knowledge expand on the horizontal axis, we automatically get a vertical ascent in our being on the other axis; and vice versa. The first step in, he said, is the step into the heart. Once you get that, you have access to all of the other expanded levels of being and knowing. That point is really a bindu, a portal into an expanded experience.
So I went to practice this on the mat, to feel the horizontal axis as a gateway to the vertical ascent. To find the place where the two converge and expand, and open a portal into something radically different. Not surprisingly, what’s true is true, at every level.
- Open to Grace: You are always at that bindu point.
- Muscle Energy: The midline is the vertical axis in the body, and hugging the midline as part of Muscle Energy gives us access to that vertical power.
- Inner Spiral: The more power we give to the vertical midline, the more the horizontal axis can expand. Inner Spiral, as it pushes up against the action of the legs hugging the midline, creates a widening along the horizontal plane, especially from the inner thighs, the inner pelvis (iliacus) and the waistline (psoas and quadratus lumborum).
- Outer Spiral/Organic Energy: With the lateral space created by Inner Spiral, a vertical space opens up. It’s like we’ve entered into a new dimension. With Outer Spiral, the tailbone roots down, and this also creates fuel for the extension of Organic Energy as it splits from the focal point and anchors down as well as rises up.
- Surya namaskar with nagini madasana (drunken cobra): In cobra pose, hug your legs to the midline, from the outer feet up through the outer ankles, shins and hips. Then turn one leg in, back and wide to open the horizontal axes. As you widen that side, lean to that side, swaying (this is why it’s been dubbed “drunken cobra”).
- Prasarita padottanasana with twist
- Uttanasana with twist
- Parsvottanasana to Urdhva prasarita eka padasana (standing splits)
- Handstand: press up into handstand by holding the top leg powerfully to the midline
- Virabhadrasana 1
- Parivrtta Parsvakonasana
- Parivrtta Trikonasana
- Brigid’s Cross
- Anjaneyasana with thigh stretch
- Virasana/Supta Virasana
- Triangmukhaipada pascimottanasana/Krounchasana
- Janu Sirsasana