“But there must always be an interplay between at least two forces in order to create a balancing rhythm between them. Water is the element that brings about a state of balance everywhere. Where it is deprived of rhythm and can no longer flow freely in meanders, or trickle over stones and murmur and chatter and form waves, it begins gradually to grow weary and die. Then it loses its ability to mediate between heaven and earth.”
– Theodore Schwenk
Our bodies are at least 70% water. Water needs to move – slowly or fast, it doesn’t matter – but it needs to move. Water transforms from yin to yang and is ultimately always moving towards a balance, creating a balance on our Earth. Our water within does the same. Our main channel of water within our bodies are our fascia – our connective tissue within, just as water is our Earth’s connective ‘tissue’. These channels of fascia correlate with our energy channels, meridians. These are the energetic pathways of our bodies, the pathways that channel our life force, chi, prana, ‘spark’ of life to each cell. Long-term blockages in these channels, bring blockages, dis-ease and ultimately death to the cells that these channels feed. In the same way that polluting, redirecting and blocking our water channels on Earth is killing her cells.
Through our practice of yoga, we nourish and revitalise our water within. Through our slow yin practices, we nourish the wells at our depths, those wells that trickle through to our springs that flow to the surface bringing nutrients to our streams and rivers. Through our yang practices we connect with this flow, the slow movement of the spring, which gains momentum as it becomes a stream and then a river which connects with the vast ocean and becomes the powerful movement of a wave.
When we truly know our bodies, we know the practices we need at that particular time – ranging from yin to yang, and anywhere in-between – to bring us back into balance.
Just as our water system on our planet does not work in isolation, neither does our body’s. Our water system on earth connects with the energy of the heavens – the moon (yin) and the sun (yang). We connect with the energies around us – though our bodies and our breath. So, just as we can affect the body, and its water within, through a variety of movement ranging from yin to yang, so can we affect the body by our interaction with the energies around us and our breath.
The characteristics of water, identified by Theodore Schwenk, are rhythm (its movement, flow and tides), metabolic (its ability to absorb and transmit information and substances) and nerve sense (it’s ability to energise and sense energy). This relates to our Yin/Yang balancing practices:
- Rhythm -> Movement
- Metabolic -> Breathing & Eating
- Nerve Sense -> Meditation & Energy Practices
These 3 main practices can help us balance our internal water, just as the water on our Earth, through it’s intrinsic characteristics, practices this daily to keep our earth in balance.
I believe that the best way we can bring about a balance on our earth, with us still on it, is to balance our inner selves. The more we understand our inner worlds, the more we will understand our planet and feel an intrinsic drive to do what is right to help her.
The energy of water culminates in the energy of a wave. Ask any ocean-lover – that energy it produces is infectious.
In Scaravelli’s minimal writings on her yoga practice, she refers to the main elements of a yoga practice being: Gravity, Breath and The Wave. There have been various explanations of her meanings. Relating it to the practices of yoga, gravity could be referring to the asana element of it and breath the pranayama element. After exploring these two elements, the wave concept will then reveal itself…
Through our movement and our attempts at balancing, we have to work with gravity and be aware of its presence. When we work with it, it holds us and supports us, when we work against it, it makes us stronger. Sometimes this ‘making us stronger’ includes teaching us how to fall! Gravity has a way of reminding us of its presence – “bringing us back down to earth” – if we forget.
One of the best ways NOT to fall out of a balancing posture, is to connect with your breath. Breathing brings us more into our bodies, whilst at the same time, connects us with our surroundings. It’s the ultimate balancing practice when it comes to balancing our inner and outer worlds. In an asana practice, when we connect our movement, and stillness, with the breath, we become more grounded (gravity) and sometimes can even defy gravity through a calm balance. We have to work very hard when we try to balance by fighting gravity with our muscles. By simply adding the lightness of breath, we learn to float!
So now we come to the ‘Wave’. The Wave is what happens when we combine the first two: Gravity & Breath. Think of a physical ocean wave… we have the energy flowing in the water, that gains momentum the further it travels, when it hits some kind of opposing force below, the water lifts up against gravity. The air (or wind), going with or against it, determines what shape it starts to make and how long it can defy gravity for, until ultimately it “breaks”, crashing back down to earth and onto the shore. This same energy process is happening inside of us in our yoga practice. Combining breath with movement, or stillness, we are impacting the water within us in the same way the air is impacting the ocean. The Wave is the energy we experience, in various shapes and forms, throughout these practices.