Anchors in Yoga and in Life
An anchor is a symbol of stability and strength. I’ve been playing with the idea of anchors in yoga. The idea of a part of the body being your anchor in a pose is just my theory. It is something that I feel myself in my practice. I’ve never read anything about anchors in poses. So, I’m going completely off the charts here.
To me, just like the symbol implies, an anchor in a yoga pose is somewhere in the body that provides strength and stability to the pose. From that anchor point, you are able to find stillness and deepen into the pose. It is where you root yourself down so you can be sturdy in your pose, so you can find ease in your pose.
For example, in extended side angle, the anchor is the back foot. The rest of the body is reaching toward the front. In fact, the cue for Warrior 2 is to reach forward first, bringing the spine into a 45 degree angle, and then moving the arms perpendicular of the floor. So, since you are reaching forward with your whole body, you need an anchor to hold you in place. The back foot, the only part of the body moving in the other direction, anchors you by pushing the foot down into the floor. When you do this, the back leg activates.
An anchor can also be that point where the entire pose sprouts while keeping you grounded, like roots on a tree. For example, moving from mountain pose to a chest opener. In the chest opener, the anchor is in the heels. From mountain pose, you look up, move the weight into the heels, and cactus the arms out to open the heart to the sky. Not only does the weight move into the heels, but by pushing your heels into the ground you find your spine growing and the pose improving.
Also, I believe an anchor in yoga can be your breath. I find this to be the case in many balancing poses. Especially in a pose like the hot version of chair pose on the toes. Everything is lifting from the ground and the shoulders are stacked over the hips as if the back is against a wall. This is a huge balancing pose with very little grounding in the feet. Unlike tree or airplane where your foot is firmly pressing into the ground, in this hot chair pose you are trying to balance on the very tip part of the toes as much as possible. I find that by focusing on my breath I become anchored. It’s as if my breath becomes my center, lifts me up and I’m able to find stillness in the pose. From there it’s smooth sailing.
All of this led me to wonder, “Do we have anchors in our day-to-day life off the mat?” What brings strength and stability into your life? I think an anchor in your life would be something that is like home. Something that brings you back to center so that no matter where you go, you feel protected and safe. Or maybe an anchor keeps you being you, genuine, real, no matter what you are doing, who you are with or where you are going. An anchor helps you stay true to yourself no matter what changes are happening.
I think this anchor could be anything – an activity, or a person, or an animal, or a place. Your anchor is anything that brings you back to center. I asked myself, “What is my anchor? What makes me feel safe? What keeps me real? Regardless of what is going on in my life?”
My first thought is my husband. Regardless of what has happened, I know I can go to bed and cuddle with him and I feel home. Whenever I’m told to think of something I am grateful for, my first thought is always him. When I begin to lose track of my path in life, I can always go to him for advice.
Furthermore, I believe you can have more than one anchor in your life. My dog Ember is another. Through her I see love, but I also see humanity. I’m not always the best pet owner, but I try my best and she still loves me regardless. Whenever I need to squish something, I can always pick her up and she lets me love on her as much as I want.
And there is meditation. Whenever I feel lost; whenever I feel something is wrong and I can’t figure out what; whenever I am nervous or stressed about something, I have meditation. Meditation is a true anchor for me. Sitting and connecting with earth and spirit, taking a moment to just be with myself through meditation makes all the difference in the world. Meditation has pulled me though some tough spots. It helps me find peace in the storm.
Journaling is another anchor. I started journaling when I was in second grade with a Hello Kitty journal. Up until I started massage school, I would write in it almost every day. There were no rules to my writing. I could write my grocery list in there if I wanted to. I would write for an hour at a café on a Sunday morning while eating a bagel and drinking coffee. I think, up until massage school, journaling was my anchor. I still journal here and here, but it isn’t the anchor it used to be.
This says to me that your anchor can change with the different phases in your life. Just like the anchor changes from pose to pose in yoga, as we live life, the anchor changes as we change. It is important for us to learn to recognize what our anchors are so we can use them as tools on our healing path. They are always there, keeping us real, reminding us of who we are.
What are the anchors in your life? Is it an activity, a place, or a person? Or is it something altogether different? Why is it your anchor? How does it make you feel?
Did you like this post? Spread the Yoga Nerd love and share with your friends!