What can animals teach us in our yoga practice? Dru Yoga has a focus on the elements of nature, earth, sky, sun and moon along with trees and oceans. However many of the asanas, or postures in yoga are named after animals like the cat, dog, eagle, cobra, crane and camel to name a few. It makes sense really as if you observe animals closely you will notice they are often more connected to their bodies than humans. Animals truly live in the here and now. Before or after they pause to rest they stretch. They seem to understand they need to move and stretch their bodies in certain ways to maintain their health and mobility. The practice of ancient yogis was influenced by observing and imitating the movement and rest of animals. The wisdom of animals is captured today in yoga poses and honored with the name.
Sarah Robinson in her book “Yoga for Witches” says “as we journey through yoga to unite body, mind and spirit, animals are a fantastic inspiration: strong, agile, flexible, instinctive and aware.” There is also a great deal of symbolism associated with animals in myth and folklore. Many of us would resonate with a favourite animal and there are lots of different ways we may wish to connect with animals. Despite the novelty factor maybe it is why yoga in association with animals like kitten yoga, goat yoga and “doga” are becoming so popular. It is Mental Health Week right now and there is much evidence to suggest the beneficial nature of pets and animals for our mental health and well being. An article from Beyond Blue lists many ways pets can positively impact your well being including not judging you, providing companionship and encouraging you to be more active.
Join me in Term 4 as we explore in class the theme of Animal Wisdom as we practice a different yoga pose based on animals each week. I will also share a related “Spirit of the Animal” oracle card from the beautifully illustrated card deck by Colette Baron-Reid. I encourage you each week to tune into the qualities and symbolism related to each animal and how it may or may not resonate with you. I will also be donating 10% of my profits this term to SAFE Bunbury as well as a collection tin for donations at class.
In the first week we will start with possibly my favourite animal and yoga pose, the Cat (Marjariasana) which is done kneeling on all fours, or standing / sitting cat, and consists of two wavelike movements originating from the base of the spine. One flow hollows the back while the other arches it much like a cat. Practicing this posture offers so much but particularly supports us to gain awareness of the vertebrae along the length of the spine. We inhale as we hollow the spine and exhale as we arch. Feel into lengthening from the tailbone and sense, feel or imagine you have a spine as flexible as a cats spine with a tail even! It is always such a pleasure to watch a cat stretch, they make it look so easy. A healthy spine means a healthy, happy life so let the Cat posture bring with it a wonderful sense of free flow and harmony.
The animal I chose for my logo is the peacock, and while we will probably not be practicing the Peacock Pose, listen to the wisdom of the “Prana the Peacock” and Let it Shine! Come along to yoga class and shake a tail feather in the activation, be joyful and shine your light for all to see. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know what animal you resonate with.