I went to Berkeley California to attend a Body Mind Centering workshop in Embodied Developmental Movement and Yoga. As usual it is amazing to watch Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen share her wisdom and turn your preconceptions upside down when she shows that there is not one way of doing a yoga pose. I often leave these workshops with one or two crucial teachings. It often manifests itself first in my brain then it is a play of curiosity to see how I embody it in the following months.
The highlight of the recent workshop made its way straight deep into my cells. The teaching is: Go under the tone. No wonder our workshop topic was movement patterns that first appear in the womb and continue emerging and integrating through infancy. The way we breathed, pulsed, yielded, pushed, reached and pulled from early on serve our cellular tone and fluidity. Overall they play an important role supporting the more complex movement of yoga.
"Going under the tone" means finding the support underneath in a given pose. It does not matter whether the pose is easy or challenging. All that matters is that a pose becomes complete and whole when executed from different possible perceptions. It is all about achieving ease but staying alert after all.
If for instance folding forward gives you a painful experience, notice first whether you fold from your front body or back body. Then try doing it otherwise. It might soothe your nervous system more efficiently.
Savasana, which is done as the very last thing in a yoga class, is a very exposing pose in my opinion. It opens our front body and organs to the space surrounding us. I often wondered how such a pose that can make us quite exposed and vulnerable made perfect sense at the end as we all gave ourselves in to the trust of it. It made sense to me in this workshop that for savasana to act quite effective it has to enclose the actual enfolding of the front body and organs as if we are curled safely in our mother's womb. In other words a strong preparation for internal calm and clarity is necessary before we go ahead and open ourselves to the world. This is what "going under the tone" implies for me.
Just notice next time when you practice savasana: Will it become more nurturing when done after a long held child pose?
It surely is for me.