Love letters from an embodied life. Sign up here.

Conversations with my Gurubody

Gravity, surrender and the yoga mat

Taking time on my yoga mat is a frequent activity at McLeod Mansions.   Particularly the taking time bit.


When I slow right down and notice how my body is responding to gravity, I get to experience


Gravity as support.


Wondering what I mean?  Read on…


This particular morning, feeling a little exhausted by the relentless rhythms of school and maybe a smidge of trying to keep up with the rhythms of neighbours, colleagues, the whole damn world … I chose to do what I know works best for me, take the time to listen.

Lying in corpse pose (what’s not to love?!) flat on my back, arms and legs comfortably arranged I scan through my body noticing what I find.

My breath rises and falls, becoming more effortless with each new inhale. Effortlessly extending itself, and my muscles with it, on each exhale. And within a few more breaths I reach that place of potential where my breath is breathing me.

I extend a silent invitation to myself to let my awareness expand and feel all the places where my body comes into contact with the mat and floor.

Another to allow all cells, every single last one, to drop into the support of gravity and the earth.


My breath sweeps through my body like gentle lapping waves.


On each exhale more cells accept gravity’s invitation.

I let my awareness wander, directed by sensation, watching gently, softly, as my body releases more and more down into the support of the mat, the support of gravity.


At some point my attention’s drawn to a place in the back of my right arm.  Feeling in as specifically as I’m able, without effort… What is that?

I wait for my body to answer….


There’s a bunch of cells, no matter how many, I can feel them. They’re resisting the invitation to drop into relaxation.  Choosing instead to stay engaged. Alert. Poised.

By-passing the distraction of asking Why? I realise :


It’s not quite a No to my invitation .. more of a  Not-under-these-conditions.


So I ask : What do you need in order to say Yes to gravity’s offer to support you?


I let the next few breaths curl sinuously in between what feels like each individual cell.  As my breath flows outward, effortlessly like a leaf falling from a tree, I can feel the slightest tingle of release.  On the next breath, more.

And over each successive breath the tissue which was holding itself alert, ready to keep up with some external rhythm, made a different choice.  Was seduced from it’s inefficient tension by my breath, by my attention, by my taking the time.



PS.     I’ve been using the Dolphin pose on the mat since then, moving exquisitely slowly, exploring as my weight, the pull of gravity, the movement of my breath all flow through this particular part of my arm.  These specific few cells are becoming more and more integrated into the movement through my whole arm and shoulder complex.

The ripples of their eventual Yes are spreading out …  and their greater ease is being reflected in subtle re-alignments along pathways I didn’t know were there before.

The pull of external rhythms also has less purchase on me now. In freeing my body responses I’ve changed how I experience mine and other rhythms.


Gurubody ~ My body is my Guru.


Is it normal to take 4 whole days to backup your website and upload a bunch of overdue upgrades and other life-giving, juicy stuff?  Well it’s my normal. It’s simply ‘what happens’ now that my Body gets to call the shots.

 Long exhale into something more interesting;  some pleasure and ease …


You might have thought that after 20+ years of learning it’s language and listening in I wouldn’t fall for To-do lists over-riding my Body’s smarts… but hey.  A constant process of refinement, no?

On Tuesday (#vicarioustravelmonday having caused the week to begin a day late already) the need-tos and shoulds were clamouring, along with that multitude of voices intent on looking after my best-interests (sweet misguided monsters that they are).  A perfect storm of cocktails were being served up by the generous staff at the Synaptic Bar.  Behind on several weeks’ delivery of daylight and particularly sunshine, my Body finally declared a No that day.  A Not-under-these-conditions.


So I took my Body to the bath.


And asked it : Where could you use some help from the memory of Full Spectrum Light (aka sunshine)?  After all, I just lived in Andalucia for nearly 10 years, the cellular memory can’t be that far away!


Then my Body took me to the yoga mat.


I took a few easeful breaths, aligning my posture in gravity as effortlessly as I was able.

Then I invited my body to remember the physical sensations of being in Full Spectrum Light. It tingled and relaxed just about everywhere as the memory seeped in and the cells felt like they were literally lighting up.

As the sensations grew stronger, the places unable to soak in the chemical information from the memory became more obvious.  A stiffness in the fingers of my right hand and a tightness in the right side of my neck. There was a pinching beneath my right shoulder blade which connected in to my core muscles via my solar plexus too.


 Sometimes, I like to use the familiar movements and poses of the asanas to explore what’s going on in the world of my Body.  If I slow the movements down to the tiniest of increments,  transitioning from one place to the next almost cell-by-cell,  then I don’t miss the gems that are almost always to be found nestling between layers of tissue; maybe sticking to some fascia, or right at the interface of muscle and bone.


As I began to explore some super simple pose, at snails pace, I discovered the little catches and compressions that were impeding the flow of movement and breath in my body and causing the sensations of stiffness and pinching.  They were pretty damn specific. They always are.


I used the sensation of gravity for more information, as it offered the downward pull of it’s gentle support;


I allowed my breath to gently curl between the cells and it’s mere presence to ease some space into compression and stickiness;


I soft-focussed my awareness so that all of these invitations to my tissue were extended with spaciousness and curiosity.


By the time I was done on the yoga mat (40 minutes and maybe 2 and a half asanas later!) I had a new series of reference points in my own physical tissue.

So next time I feel that majorly diminished pinch below my shoulder blade, I can continue to build on my exploration on the yoga mat.  I can allow that tiny point of tissue to take part in the full movement coming from my core muscles up through my solar plexus, rather than holding itself out of the dance and becoming a restriction to full ease and greater efficiency.