1. Set the Foundation and Open to Grace (OTG)
What it is
First principle sets the intention of the practice aligning your mind and heart with the Supreme; it establishes the initial foundation of the pose through the contact of the physical body with the earth. It invites the student to be present and receptive to Grace—the revelatory power of Spirit—so they can soften their boundaries and open to the vast power around them before engaging the contraction of Muscle Energy. This will allow the heart and the body to expand and the foundation to naturally ground.
• Softness of the skin and physical body; settled; ready and alert; inner fullness; expansion
Emotional (…. so as to feel…):
• Emotionally expansive; sensitivity, spaciousness, receptivity, freedom, ease, love, connection to the divine, devotion
Why we do the alignment
• Sets one’s intention for the practice
• Establishes an initial foundation of the physical body with the earth
• To soften the skin and open the heart, mind, and body so as to align with the Supreme
• Softens your boundaries and opens you to the vast power around you
• To open to the Universal Spirit within and around us
• Creates a sense of surrender allowing the heart and inner body to softly expand first so that all efforts are tempered and are less hardening and contractive
• Sets the foundation that yoga is a movement of energy
• To soften, relax and be spacious and expansive
• Fosters an awareness of feet and breath
• Rests the awareness in the back of the body
• To establish a sense of showing up and being present
• To make the inner body bright and attentive
• To connect to community and something bigger than ourselves
• Helps mend or heal
Alignment Steps & Commands
• Be present in attitude and stance
• Relax and soften the heart and skin
• Inner body bright
• Lengthen side bodies; expand ribs away from hips; increase the space between ribs
• Down-weight through the feet and hips into the earth
• Cultivate reverence and respect for yourself as you seek to find glory in the pose
• Inflate the kidneys and initiate the Kidney Loop
• Evenly expand the upper torso and shoulders
• Cultivate an awareness of a steady even breath so as to expand and soften
• Softens the skin
• Side bodies lengthen from an inner lift
• Allows the inner and outer body to expand softly
• Establishes a passive organic connection to the earth
• Sets a physical foundation of the body and an energetic foundation of practice
• When the inner body happily expands, the foundation naturally grounds and the chest lifts and widens
• The kidney area naturally expands and the heart melts
• Addresses the Highest first
• Establishes a quality of sensitivity, grounding and ease throughout the practice
• Sets the initial contact of the physical body with the earth
• Establishes softness and receptivity
• Opens the heart
• Inner body is puffy, bright and attentive to the moment
• Aligns the mind and heart with the Supreme
Alignment Relative to Other UPAs and Loops
• Sets the initial attitude and foundation for all consecutive UPAs
• Start with opening, then engage fully; Spirit first
• When we open to grace prior to establishing ME the outer body happily draws in against an expanded and radiant inner body
• Helps establish the Kidney Loop
• Helps in evenly expanding the upper torso and shoulders; front and back of the lungs become full
• Fills up the back and zips up the front
• Softens due to the diminishing pressure onto the adrenal glands
• Creates a resting back quality and three-dimensionality
Specific verbal prompts to create this action
- Soften the skin
- Inner body bright!
- Side bodies long.
- Open to something bigger.
- Puff it up and keep the skin soft.
- Enjoy the breath.
- Breath into the expansion between your ribs.
- Fill up the back of the heart.
- Fold forward and expand your heart space.
- Set the foundation by organically pressing out through your feet / hands / knees
- Soften and release the pelvic Focal Point and allow the inner and outer body to expand softly.
- Soften your upper back and melt the heart between your shoulder blades.
- Bend your knees and open up your upper back, shoulder blades move deeper in to create more opening.
Poses most affected
- Chaturanga Dandasana
- Virabhadrasana I, III
- Prasarita Padottanasana
- Pranam (prayer pose)
Establishing Kidney Loop
- Active stands while partner places their hands on their sides (thumbs up, fingers down) and presses downwards
- Active raises arms forward and up
- Partner releases active’s ribs
- Active uses belly to hold arms up