Anchors of Gravity
Inspired by the principles of alignment of Anusara Yoga, I’ve refined my practice through the past few years by using gravity and an internal heavy “ball” – that rolls and shifts from asana to asana – as an anchor to stabilize and ground my poses.
After exploring the dynamics of this tool – and experiencing its amazing benefits in my own practice – I’ve started sharing it and implementing it in my teachings, to the extent of becoming an integral part of my Alignment Series Workshops (Session 3).
In the Stick Yogi (thanks Irma for naming my drawing character) chart above, I’ve drawn a selection of popular asanas where I highlighted with an orange ball the anchor(s) of gravity in each posture.
For a better understanding of my approach, I’ll describe below my 3 Anchors of Gravity:
- Sacral: To locate this anchor, trace an imaginary line between the center of the sacrum on the back body, across the lower belly to one – one and a half inch underneath the navel to the front. Along this line, from back to front, imagine a heavy ball suspended at a 1/3 of the distance into the body. This is the lowest anchor to the ground when standing.
- Heart Center: Feel the base of your shoulder blades to the back, locating the mid point between each shoulder blade base. Trace your line from this point, across the body to reach the front of the body right above the sternum (1/2 inch). Place your anchor along the traced line, right in the center.
- Palate: From the crown of the head, trace a line down to meet the upper end of the cervical spine. Right in between, locate the back of the upper palate, on the path of the line, and this is the location for your third anchor point.
Even though exceptionally above, Fish Pose shows two anchors (where the gravity weight is shared between two locations), most of the asanas are grounded and stabilized through one anchor. So I like to imagine myself and describe the action of the Anchor as a shifting ball that rolls up and down the three points described above, upon the pose I’m achieving. Also, in my personal perception of this shifting/rolling action, my ball is big in the first anchor point (Sacral), and it decreases slightly and progressively in size as it moves up ( I cannot imagine a huuuuuge ball in my delicate upper palate!). Though, the sensed weight is constant in all three.
Alignment starts by the most external and anatomical aspect of the pose with a true activation and engagement of muscular action; the muscle activation supports and aligns the bone and joint structure to achieve balance between activate/relax/surrender in each pose, which optimally involves the least effort providing a sense of lightness and freedom in its full expression.
Once this first part is established and mastered, comes the subtlety and refinement of the pose, through the bandhas (internal locks) and the Anchors of Gravity. For this last ingredient I’m describing here, as you set your pose and align yourself in it, the application is simple: locate and bring your awareness to the lowest point of gravity (the closest to the Earth) within the three Anchors described above.
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) feet hip distant apart:
– Start engaging and activating your feet through all four corners (base of big toes, base of little toes, inner and outer edge of the heels)
– Activate your calf and thigh muscles, lifting the knee caps up,
– Tilt the tailbone slightly back and forth, and engage Mula Bandha (root lock) to activate the pelvic floor and stabilize hips and lower back
– Root and ground into your active legs to start freeing and expanding the upper body taller,
– Locate your Sacral Anchor, and start feeling its weight from behind the navel down towards the pelvic (which holds it into place through Mula Bandha’s lifting action,
– Let that weighed subtle energy cascade down through the inner stream (the very core) of your active legs, and anchor your pose down into the support of the ground
– From that newly felt groundness, you may experience an expansion and spaciousness of the upper body, that lifts your heart center, opens up your breath capacity and gives you wings to fly with an increased stability!
… It is as simple as 1, 2, 3 … Next time you’re on the mat, try it for yourself, and let me know what you experience!