Finding Strength in Archer Pose

When I began practicing Kundalini Yoga, I came from a Vinyasa practice with the poses flowing fluidly from one to the next. At my first Kundalini class I was quite astonished when my teacher asked me to raise my arms as if about to shoot an arrow, position myself in Archer Pose and remain stationary. I thought the pose seemed simple enough—after all, what could be easier than taking an archer’s stance and holding still for a few moments? But after a minute or two, I was shaky, unfocused and unbalanced. Holding still, keeping my gaze steady, my knee bent and my arms lifted were surprising challenges. How could such an uncomplicated pose require so much of me?

I’ve come a long way since that first experience with Archer Pose, which is now one of my favorites. I find that it inspires strength and self-assurance; by holding the pose you become aware of  your own deep reservoir of inner power.

Archer, according to the Kundalini teachings, promotes courage and confidence—two qualities that, before I began practicing, I was short on. Yet my “Gift,” I discovered when I received my Tantric Numerology reading, is “fearlessness.” Prior to yoga, I’d pretty much spent my whole life being afraid of what was coming next (my mother passed this fear onto me, and I gladly accepted it, along with her love). But the more I practice Kundalini yoga, the more I see that fearlessness is my gift; I am no longer  afraid of so many things that used to terrify me: traveling, letting my children go, flying, the fear of losing anyone–and everyone–I love, and of course, public speaking! (Okay, I’m still working on that last one!)

I am now ready to accept my Gift: the gift of fearlessness, and Archer Pose has helped me reach this point.

Like Archer, Tree Pose also requires strength and balance, both within and without. The pose has a graceful beauty, but it also requires focus and power; you simply cannot stay in Tree Pose for long if you fail to draw upon your inner strength. I love Tree because when rooted into the earth I feel grounded and strong. Like Archer, this pose may be difficult at first, but with time and practice the roots of the tree grow strong, and the trunk of the tree becomes sturdy and uplifted.  And with that grounding, the mind clears, becoming strong and balanced like the body. In Tree, the clouds of fear and doubt drift away.

Tree and Archer are asanas that will serve us well as we embrace the New Year with strength, surety, and a sense of our own personal power. I am grateful for these asanas, which enable us to remain present, trusting, and focused even as we face an unknown future, and to remain strong and confident even in the winds of change.

 

To do Archer Pose:

Stand with the feet approximately 2 – 3 feet apart.

Turn the right foot so it is pointed away from the side of the body. Place the left foot at a right angle to the right foot; the toes will be pointing away from the front of the body. A line extending back from the heel of the right foot should intersect with the arch of the left foot.

Bend the right leg forward so that the right knee is over the right toes. Stretch through the left leg, knee straight, heel pressing into the floor.

Reach forward with the right hand and bring the fingers to the palms, as if grasping a bow. As if pulling back on the bowstring, bring the left hand, fingers also curled to the palms, to the left shoulder. Both thumbs are pointed up.

Tuck the tailbone via a light Root Lock. Pull Neck Lock with the chin in, chest out.

Gaze at the tip of the right thumb and breathe deeply from the navel.

Reverse sides and repeat.

 

Tree Pose:

From a standing position, lift the right heel up to the groin.  Press the sole of the foot along the inner thigh with the toes facing the floor.

Drop the shoulders back, slightly lift the chest and pull the chin in into neck lock.  Stretch the arms up with the palms together, hugging the ears.

Use mulbandh to keep the pelvis turned under.  Do not stick the buttocks out.

Switch sides.

 

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