I’ve come home to mountain pose, so often the place where I begin a practice and where I end it too. Standing here, straight and still, my feet planted solidly on the ground, my back erect, my eyes closed, I feel happy. How wise that standing here rooted in the earth as we are in mountain is an active pose. A place to gather oneself. A place where one learns how to weather the storms that so often rage about us. Much as a mountain does of course.
Mountain is an ideal for me of how I would like to live. A posture where things line up easily and balance isn’t an issue. As I tune inward, feeling my own strength and equilibrium, the outer world of noise and distraction doesn’t exactly disappear. But it doesn’t matter as much either. For a moment, I get to be alone in that world of distraction and unshaken by it. I’m quite enough in mountain.
The Body in Mountain
One of the beauties of this pose for me is that here I feel my outer margins but also my inner being. I’m acutely aware of ankles, hips and shoulders lined up straight, one atop the other, but also intestines layered tightly within. The more still I become, the more I’m aware of all the activity in my midsection – noise, traffic. Much like our earthly mountains, there are switchbacks and blind corners. There’s movement and lots of activity in that region.
Moving up the body, I become aware of the space my heart occupies. At first it isn’t the beating heart itself that I feel, but the energy radiating from those beats. Shimmering energy pulsing throughout my chest. Even if at first that energy rattles with irritation or impatience, slowly in mountain, it settles, drawing into the heart itself where it regroups and is transformed. And then it radiates again. Long pulses of health and heart. Sweet sensations of calm. The truth of the mountain.
As it radiates beyond my chest cavity, I feel my breasts, large in my case and heavy. Even they stand within the symmetry of the mountain, guardians of my precious heart. Each one is laced into a sturdy bra that hugs my ribs comfortingly, yet another layer of protection. Walls upon walls around my heart. My sweet, trustworthy and tender heart.
Despite that warmth in mountain, I also feel my jaw which is tight and slightly clenched. I wonder if there is ever a time when there’s no tension at the hinges of my jaw? If I tell myself to relax those corners, they will slide open a little. But I can barely keep my jaw that way. It springs back into its tense position. It doesn’t know relaxation as other parts of me do. My jaw has been trained by a long life of work in the world to always be ready. It has been important to be alert, attentive and aware. But what, I wonder, does my clenched jaw protect? My voice? My speech? My public self?
And so, in mountain, for just one moment at least, I focus my attention here and relax my jaw into my heart. Even this tense part of me surrenders into the inner protected space of my heart. All roads of the body lead here to these warm and soft pulses, where blood flows, air comes and love lives. The safest place I know.