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Want to unlock an unexpected world of possibility in your practice—and your life? Then Yoga Journal’s upcoming course The Power of Play Bootcamp is for you. Baron Baptiste—veteran yoga teacher and founder of the Baptiste Institute and Baptiste Foundation—will lead you through four weeks of meditation, asana, and self-inquiry specifically designed to spark awakening and growth. Start the new year with a powerful perspective—and discover how to put it into action.
One of the keys to moving through life with the kind of ease and harmony we all want is being comfortable with yourself. The quality comes easily when your body, heart, and mind align—when you come from center, from your true north.
About 10 years ago I was in a teachers workshop with B.K.S. Iyengar, when he said something that has stayed with me since: “The spiritual heart is located just to the right of the physical heart, and it sits right in the center.” Iyengar’s guidance gave a measurable place for the desires in my heart to join my mental attention and body, then move in one direction simultaneously, creating my true north.
Sometimes asana practice helps illuminate concepts like this. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) is the true north of all yoga poses. Let’s break down why that is and how to get there. Finding your center is something we focus on in my new course, The Power of Play Bootcamp. Here are three steps to help you find your true north, in any situation, big or small, easy or difficult.
1. Find and feel your feet.
Focusing on your feet is the first step toward finding your center: Draw your attention to each foot, and feel its contact with the earth. In Mountain Pose, the feet are grounded and activated, a few inches apart. Your feet are like antennas that tune in to the physical universe below, above, and around you. Locating your feet in real time creates a physical “presencing.” It wakes up your whole body and its sensory doorways up to your pelvic core and your centerline—your physical true north.
2. Find and feel your centerline.
Locating your physical center creates the physical container for your mind: Integrate your whole body, from periphery to centerline and drop your attention into your spine. In Mountain Pose, your spine is stacked and relaxed. Your muscles are drawing in toward the bones, and there is a general organization of all physical parts toward your centerline—as if they were notes in an orchestral arrangement.
3. Drop into yourself.
Physical presencing lets you mentally stop, drop into your center, and just be: Notice the ebb and flow of breath, in and out of your chest. In Mountain Pose, the eyes are focused with a calm determination—the drishti is steady, alert, and relaxed. Much like a ballerina’s performance, the pose appears effortless yet dynamic. Through the pose, you are comfortable in your own skin. This space allows for the natural, organic arising of what’s in the heart. You can be open and receive the inner guidance to follow the true north of what matters most to you, and then allow your body and attention move in that direction and manifest what matters most. Sometimes you will lose your center and fall back. When you do, simply begin again, finding Mountain Pose, and again working to restore your true north.