Clear as a bell

Photo: yogis seated with hands over abadomen
Master class at Thrive Yoga

In tonight’s hatha yoga session with Marylou McNamara at Thrive Yoga, I had one of those epiphanies that come when you’re least expecting. I was seating during the opening centering exercise, listening to Marylou talk about truly listening. I subtly adjusted me Easy Pose (Sukhasana),  helped by the blanket I had under my sit bones, shifting the angle of my hips forward so that there was a curve in the small of my back. When I hit a particular angle, I could feel the rest of my spine almost click into place and my rib cage balance like the arms of a scale. When I hit that spot, I also noticed that my breathing became measurably smoother, more effortless, deeper. It would reach all the way up to the crown of my head. I’d play with the tilt of my hips by moving too far forward or backward, and it would send a ripple effect up my spin: I could feel core muscles tensing up, grabbing at the edges of my rib cage, and degrading of the quality of my breathing. I switched back to the sweet spot of my hips and my spinal column seemed to hum.

While sitting there, I visualized a bell at the front desk of a hotel. The bell itself is balanced on top of a column, suspended above the rest of the apparatus. If the apparatus is tilted, the bell no longer is free but presses against the base. When the bell is struck, it does not ring true; it clanks with a dull thud. When the apparatus is leveled so that the bell does not touch the base, then the bell rings clearly, resonantly, when struck. The vibration is held longer.

That’s how I perceived the relations between my hips, my spine, my rib cage, up to my head. If I achieved the right foundation from my hips, it resonates all the way up my torso in a kind of chain reaction.