As I continue to study and practice the wisdom of the Eastern healing arts, I am impressed at how they so ingeniously connect humans with Nature in multidimensional ways. This includes not only healing arts like Acupuncture but also movement disciplines from China like Qi Gong in the Five Animal Frolics, and from India, Yoga through nature-based and animal Asanas. Movement is expressive of qualities, characteristics and emotion. The treasure filled Nature symbology embedded in Eastern arts is rich with meaning based in a profound understanding of humans and Nature. By practicing and understanding any of these movement disciplines, you can connect to Mother Nature and your own essence at a deeper and more intricate level. Since I am a Yoga practitioner, I’ll talk about Yoga – but you don’t have to be a practitioner of anything to get this.
Let’s take ‘Hatha’ Yoga. The word ‘Hatha’ is about duality. Ha means Sun: Tha means moon. The practice of Hatha Yoga is about balance through uniting opposites as represented by the sun and moon. The friction of opposites is part of our everyday life: warm-cool, male-female, good-evil. Understanding the metaphors of Yoga asanas and practicing them can facilitate harmonizing your physical and psychological opposites and bring you into greater inner balance.
Yoga asanas (postures, movements) are named for animals, plants, birds and even geometrical and geological structures. Each Yoga posture is like a hieroglyph. It contains nuggets of meaning related to its named entity. As with any movement, it can express associated qualities, characteristics and emotions. When you embody a particular Asana, you open yourself to change and challenge in that constellation of your nature. You deepen your understanding of yourself and even change how you express your life and being. Choose a posture and notice how you feel in that position. What comes up for you as you hold and breathe?
Try the Asana called “Cobra.” (If you aren’t familiar with Cobra, see: http://www.cnyhealingarts.com/2010/12/24/the-health-benefits-of-bhujangasana-cobra-pose/). What do snakes represent? Snakes bring up and symbolize many issues, especially fear. The Cobra opens the chest, which can hold many feelings and emotions including love, grief and fear. As you slip into the posture and hold for some time, you might begin to experience physical and/or emotional discomfort. If so, you are beginning to catalyze change in your inner status quo.
Whatever comes up, allow yourself to be with it, especially your fears, without denial or aversion. Instead of being a slave to fears, accept them as allies or teachers. “To stay alert and act wisely in the face of fear is to force that fear into the service of wisdom and power (Penny Kelly).” The practice of holding with awareness will take you on the path of renewal and resurrection, which is symbolized by the snake shedding its skin. Snakes are the essence of transformation and fluidity.
Study the movements of Yoga or Qigong. Think about the qualities and characteristics that you would like to strengthen, expand or have take root in yourself. Choose an animal movement that represents them; or create and explore movements that would embody these characteristics and qualities. Notice how you are affected. Feel yourself beginning to embrace Mother Nature at fresh and uncharted levels or your being.