by Mari Kennedy

A couple of years after I started yoga, as my practice deepened, I had a profound realisation. Getting on my mat and my cushion was an essential act of fi nding my centre.

Back then in my early 30s life was busy. I was newly married, trying to get pregnant, on an ambitious career trajectory and finding time to party! My practice began to show me that

I was not connected to my centre – physically, mentally or emotionally. All my reference points were “out there” in the external world. I had no relationship to my interior and as

a result I had very little connection to my true centre. I was living disembodied, from my head. I realised it was a question of alignment beyond just physical poses.

“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.”  – B.K.S. Iyengar

Science is catching up with what the ancient traditions have always known; the body-mind is one system,  continuous feedback loop. Living in a chaotic, always-on world that is in
flux, without a sense of centre we get pulled and dragged in all directions. In a constant state of fight, flight, freeze, we become emotionally overwhelmed, mentally frazzled and physically exhausted.

When we intentionally work to strengthen the physical centre of our body it affects us on every level. Our neurology changes and we fi nd a new stability in the body-mind. This, in turn, changes how we show up to life. We become more grounded and robust, we become more spatially aware of our circumference, we find our connection to the planet and we access a trustable inner authority. There is a myriad of ways to return to the centre through the various systems of yoga and wisdom traditions. I share some of the ways I have been and continue to be guided back.

The Spine

Embodying the curves and joints of the spine and exploring early vertebrate movement patterns brought me into contact with the spine through Body Mind Centering.

In the teachings of Vanda Scaravelli, I discovered the wave of the spine and the challenging practice of undoing patterns of tension. Both practices demanded that I slow down and feel.

The universal principles of alignment in Anusara Yoga offered me three focal points – the core of the pelvis, the bottom of the heart, and the upper palate and the practice of “hugging the midline”, which were all powerful reminders of my centre.

The Heart

The location of the heart at the centre of the chest is a natural place to fi nd our centre. I love the work of the Heartmath Institute and its paradigm shifting research. We are now seeing that the physical heart is actually a powerful brain which communicates with the brain in our skull and the gut; three brains right down the midline.

The Pelvis

More recently, through Katonah Yoga, I have begun to work with the pelvis. This system sees the body as three floors in a house. The hips are the roots of the bottom floor, the feet, legs and pelvis, one’s ground of being. Working with the first fl oor we look at how we hold ground, how we establish safety and stability through the opening of the hips. I have always known that the pelvis to be a power centre but Katonah has helped me access a direct experience of that.

The Energy Centres

The chakra system and the three Dantien points have been ways I have connected to the energetic centres in the body from various traditions. Meditation, visualisation and breathwork are a way into these subtle energy centres. Reconnecting to my heart through mediation brought me back into contact with my energetic centre of the heart. It felt like coming home. The Sufi “eye of the heart” teaching and Anusara’s beautiful practice of opening to Grace played a big part in this homecoming.

Coming back to centre is so much more than finding balance in the gross body. It’s about coming home on all levels. It’s about stability and finding the middle way of being in world of polarity. It’s about being connected to our own power and living in a congruent self-authoring way.