Met another adorable tortoise yesterday, this time on one of the ‘caldorini’ (ancient stone donkey paths that zig zag through the mountain), leading down to the sweet chestnut and oak tree-lined sparkling beach here in the Pelion. I love these creatures, their nibbly mouths shaped in a smile, dinosaur legs and slow ungainly movements.
Some times in Yoga I invite people to lie on top of each other spine-to-spine; one person curled underneath, face down, in ‘the child’. The other lying long and extended, chest, heart and belly open to the sky, head resting in the curve of their partners neck. Observing two bodies joined like this is like looking at a tortoise; the heavy encasing shell pressing down on the soft body folded inside. When being the one squashed underneath, maybe it’s the closest we’ll get to actually feeling like a tortoise; heavy, slow but strangely delicious and serene!
The mutual benefit of this posture is amazing and expresses two sides of our human need; to feel containment and safety, gravity pressing us into the earth where we can release historic tensions, breathe into the deeper skin and feel held, that primal sense of belonging and connection. And then to lift and open, extend and feel strong in our capacity to reach and move into the world, the potential to explore and grow into spacious autonomy.
In fact these two positions mimic our first entry into the world, from the timeless, still, silent fold of the womb into the time-bound constellation of our moving life on earth. Maybe find a friend and give this a try! Students report the experience of feeling more grounded and connected to themselves and the earth, and more expansive and light at the same time. Another reminder of the animal body, that nature offers its treasures to us every day, and our shared gravity with the whole universe is how we learn to love and have compassion for all creatures great and small, including ourselves. And how we find that balance of closeness and freedom in our relationships.