The votes have been counted, and the winner of the King Pigeon challenge is Alisa Davidoff! Her photo, taken by a friend in Israel is a true inspiration! Check it out below.
The Prize: Alisa will receive a personalized PVYU accelerated sequence designed to help her reach new and inspiring levels of bendiness. This sequence when combined with her obvious dedication to the practice will doubtless give her a leg up in the next challenge, so you’d better get practicing if you plan on keeping up!
The Wonders of the Central Axis
The term “centering” is often used in yoga classes to describe the mental act of re-establishing a connection to a deeper part of ourselves that isn’t swayed by thought, distraction or destructive emotional states like fear or anxiety. Centering allows us to remain calm in the midst of challenge and helps us to reconnect to our sense of self when we are knocked off of balance. Physically speaking, positioning the weight of our body around a theoretical center can be helpful as well. Doing so helps us to experience balance and equilibrium in our postures, eliminates unnecessary muscle tension in flexibility enhancing poses, and creates a sense of effortless ease is strength enhancing postures.
The Central Axis
Since understanding how to stack the weight of the body closer to center can be difficult to understand if we don’t know where our center lies, we expand our definition of “center” to encompass a vertical line of energy referred to as the Central Axis. The Central Axis is an imaginary line of energy that flows vertically downward through the body’s center of mass in the upright standing position. To visualize the central axis, simply imagine a plumb line hanging from the center of the skull, threading downward through the rib-cage and exiting through the middle of the pelvic floor, and you will have a good idea of where the central axis lies.
The Central Axis is much like a beacon of light in the middle of a thick fog. It acts as a central reference point that shows us where to shift our focus as we practice, drawing our attention inward to our center and allowing us to radiate gracefully outward from a sense of inner connectedness and strength in our core. The Central Axis gives us a tangible landmark around which to position our body as we flow through our postures. Creating a solid mental map of the central axis takes a lot of the guesswork out of where the body should be positioned as we practice.
Once we isolate the position of the Central Axis from an upright vertical position, we can carry the image of its location into the rest of our practice, using it as a frame of reference for the large variety of yoga poses that we practice. Standing, supine, sideways and kneeling postural patterns can all be informed and brought into more efficient alignment by positioning the body around the central axis that we discovered in the vertical position.
How to Find Your Central Axis
Find a partner and use the following exercise to find your central axis:
- Have your partner come to a standing posture with the inner edges of their feet hip distance apart.
- Help your partner find the approximate location of their central axis by pressing one finger into the front and another into the back of the body. Start below the belly button (near the center of gravity). Approximate the point that is directly centered between the right and left side of the body and place the tip of your index finger at that point. Place your other index finger on same spot at the back of the body. Have your partner think inward to the point your fingers would meet if they could actually touch.
- Once this point is located, repeat at the navel, solar plexus, heart, manubrium and at the third eye center. This line that flows vertically through the body’s center of gravity in the standing position is the central axis.
NB: When thinking of the Central Axis, it is important to recognize that it is an “imaginary” line of energy. Since the central axis doesn’t consist of any bony masses, we can’t actually consider it to be a supportive structure. As the central axis moves through the body, it may or may not encounter sections of the spinal column as the spine curves upward but it should not be considered to actually be the spinal column even if the spine and axis intersect in many places. Rather, the Central Axis can be considered to be similar to a laser beam directed from the middle of the skull downward through the pelvic floor. The beam simply flows through any bony junctures that it might encounter.