The Power of the Midline

I’ve been traveling a lot lately.  A lot means 5 nights in my house in the last 6 weeks. Yikes!  Nevertheless, I’m not tired. I’m not feeling anxious or uprooted or like my vata is taking me over.  I’m actually completely happy!

And I am attributing this to my midline.

We talk about the midline all the time in yoga classes.  We tend to give a lot of directions like “hug to your midline!” and “draw into your midline!” without ever really defining what it is.  In a nutshell, it’s an imaginary – or not so imaginary! – line that runs down your center, giving you stability and support.  Your spine is in the vicinity of your midline, and yet it isn’t the midline itself.  We tend to think of the midline as less of a physical body part and more of an energetic body part.  Yogis speak of the “shushumna” or central column of the body through which prana flows, and around which the kundalini shakti coils.  For some, this is a good definition of the midline.  For me, it is this – and more.  I also like to think of my midline as a set of concepts or principles that define me.  I know, that’s even groovier sounding than the energy body…but stick with me here.

Sarah helps Mark empower his midline to go deeper in parvritta trikonasana, revolved triangle pose. Moscow, ID.

When I draw into the midline, I am drawing into all that I hold dear – the ethics and practices I adhere to, the people I love most and rely upon, the work and play that sustains me, and most of all my relationship with the divine and with my breath.  I feel like these things together make me who I am.  They define me and shape me, while at the same time I rest back on their support.  When all else is uncertain, these midline concepts are the only things I know.

In my yoga practice (as in life, of course), uncertainty is a reality.  Harder poses push me to simultaneously integrate more physical actions and more principles while I put myself in increasingly precarious situations.  The stakes get higher as the poses get harder, and there’s often an element of balance that comes into play.  Take standing sundial (surya yantrasana), for instance. Seated sundial isn’t an easy pose – it requires significant hip opening to get your leg behind your shoulder, not to mention long hamstrings and good organic energy to extend your leg, and the ability to care for your back while moving into a twisty pose.  That said, sundial is within reach of a lot of people.  Standing sundial, on the other hand, is a “Level 3” pose in Anusara yoga.  Meaning: it’s hard!  You take all those challenges in the seated pose and then you notch it up – by standing on one leg and balancing asymmetrically!  Uncertainty and uneasy footing are the name of the game.  But when you get it – for even a split second – it’s pretty cool.  I get a rush from the new and edgy experience.

Sounds a lot like traveling, huh?  In my case, not only was I on the road for 5 weeks, some of it was in the car, and some on a plane.  Sometimes I slept in motels, sometimes in people’s spare bedrooms, and sometimes in my brother’s childhood bed.  I was in four different time zones, operating in two different languages. And I interacted with and taught a different community of people every few days – the life version of standing sundial.

Finding the fresh fruit juice lady = key! In Cartagena, Colombia.

Biking when I can is part of my midline...here in Boise, ID last week

And the cool thing was, I loved it!  Everywhere I went, I felt at home.  I slept well every night.  I enjoyed the people I was with when I was with them, and I delved into the cities and towns I had the good fortune to explore.  I was where I was in the moment, and never pined for my bed or my house.   Mind you, this hasn’t always been the case for me.  What was different this time?   I never abandoned my midline.  That meant that I practiced every day, even if it meant rolling out the mat in the space between the TV and the motel room bed.  I sat.  I did savasana.  I read meaningful words.  I listened to playlists comprised of songs that bring a smile to my face.  I drank lots of water and ate as much living food as possible.  I communicated with my close friends every day.  I ran, biked, or swam when I could.  And I kept breathing and remembering that my life is a precious gift – even more so when I am traveling to help others learn to make the leap into believing that.  And it worked!

Amazing communities exist everywhere...here in Bogotá, Colombia with BJ Galvan and the Immerison 3 kula

Amazing communities exist everywhere...here in Bogotá, Colombia with BJ Galvan and the Immersion 3 kula

I got home a few days ago, walking into my bright and welcoming house and instantly wondering how I could stay away from such a nourishing space for so long.  And then I remembered: grounding comes from the midline.  Not from a house, a piece of land, or even a state or country.  It comes from within us.  We define what is important to us, and hug into it to strengthen it.  And as it gets stronger, it does a better and better job of holding us up, and we venture further afield to experience the world.

And there’s a lot of world out there to experience.  I think my midline’s going to get a good workout in 2012…

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~ by bridgetannlyons on November 16, 2011.

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