As here in the southern Hemisphere we enter Spring, our Northern friends are entering Autumn.
This is one of those constant reminders of balance in the universe - the law of duality.
Nothing exists in isolation – it always has its opposite force to balance it – and if we wish to remain in balance, then we must be aware of the other side of the equation too.
Spring for us means new life, growth, beginnings. The start of a new cycle in the eternal wheel of growth and evolution.
Its opposite, Autumn is the winding down of forward movement, in order to withdraw and integrate the growth experiences of Spring and Summer and gather in the harvest, whether it be physical produce, mental labour or emotional growth.
In many ways, one depends on the other - without the growth of Spring, there would be no moving forward – but without the Autumn winding down and in-drawing, there would be no chance of taking stock, of evaluating and learning from our growth experience.
So we need to make sure our yoga practice is balanced, that we do not spend all our energy rushing into the super active state, pushing our bodies into new areas of growth and flexibility, without spending time on the opposite, the counterpose to maintain the state of equilibrium.
Even in our limbering, we should not forget to use the balance of relaxation. This is the time for the body to adjust to the extension, and allows the muscle to retain memory of how the stretch was able to be achieved.
We will achieve much more if we observe this law of balance!
At such times, the MAAT BREATH is a lovely way to acknowledge the need for balance, even in our breathing patterns. See instructions…
The Egyptian goddess Maat, known as “ she who keeps the world in balance “, is pictured as a beautiful woman with arms outstretched as wings.
It was said that if one feather of her wings was to go missing, the world would tip out of control.
- She wore a single feather as a headdress- the feather of truth. It was this feather that the heart was weighed against at death. If the heart weighed more than the feather, then there was some ‘unfinished business weighing heavily on our heart’ and we would need to return to earth once more to fix it before being allowed to rest in Heaven – hence our idea of ‘judgement day’.
( It probably was also the origin of the saying ‘no rest for the wicked!’)
MAAT Breath (Active / Passive Breath)
Stand upright with the feet hip width apart.
Exhale, allowing the body to become limp, i.e. head hangs, shoulders droop forward, body slumps, lifeless.
Focus on the sense of emptiness, lifelessness, utter death like stillness.
When the body needs breath, raise the arms sideways, coming parallel overhead, feeling the life force drawn in with the breath, calling the body back to activity, vitality and strength.
Hold the breath in this position with the vision of dynamic strength, energy, and vitality, until you need to release and again return to stillness.
Allow the breath to release, arms returning sideways to stillness.
Repeat this sequence seven times, being fully in the experience, then release the technique and return to upright, breathing normally. Pause and notice how quiet and balanced you feel, then quietly resume your normal activity.
The Goddess MAAT is the principle of truth
the point of balance between extremes, the centring, dynamic stillness.
Make sure you are in a quiet, undisturbed place.
Settle yourself in a comfortably, upright position, making sure the spine is straight, shoulders relaxed and the chin tucked a little toward the chest.
The eyes may be open or closed.
Take your awareness to the inside of your forehead- see
it as a screen on which your mind can project pictures.
As you focus there, an image of MAAT appears, an image that is all ruffled and disturbed by the world’s woes and imbalances.
As you focus, aim to restore balance to the image by becoming very much in harmony with yourself.
Note your breathing- aim to allow it to become calm, even and steady.
Feel your posture very balanced, light and steady.
Your hands lie evenly over your knees, or interlaced together in your lap.
Note how the image of Maat becomes more and more serene and still as your own state settles.
Hold that image in the quietness for a time.
When you are ready, gently begin to deepen the breath, slowly returning to the everyday world.
Come back slowly, so that you capture any awarenesses or thoughts before resuming your busy life.