A few years ago, I was in Tiffany Fraser’s Anusara class. She was talking about laghima. She used a student named Ira as her human example, as he weightlessly flew from down dog into crow pose. She went on to talk about how Hanuman, the King Monkey God represents laghima and how it is honored with the pose (full splits) hanumanasana. Read about his famous leap here.
I have always been in awe of those who have obtained a form of laghima in their practice. A couple of weeks ago, I had my very first experience with it. I was folding forward and put weight into my hands, and to my surprise, my feet effortlessly lifted off the ground a couple of inches. It scared the crap out of me and instead of enjoying it, I came down a bit shaken. Dork!
After digesting what had happened, I got really excited! This means that with enough practice I can tap into laghima too. I have been going to a lot of classes these last few months that focus tremendously on bandhas and breath. I believe it is here where I am developing the skill.
I decided to research laghima a bit more. Laghima, according to Alain Danielou’s YOGA MASTERING THE SECRETS OF MATTER AND THE UNIVERSE, is one of the Siddhis, more specifically one of The Eight Physical Attainments, or supra-human powers.
“They appear in full as soon as breath control is perfected but may appear in part even earlier. LAGHIMA, TO HAVE NO WEIGHT, is the control of the effects of the earth’s attraction on the body by developing in each cell the opposite (centrifugal) tendency. This is considered to be fairly easy to do and is used for the frequently performed act of levitation. According to the Markandaya Purana, laghima means “to have an extreme speed.”
Fairly easy to do, huh? Well I like his optimism, and since I spent many summers as a kid playing Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board, this should be right up my alley.
I decided to give myself some daily homework hoping these activities will help me get the deep core strength that I need. Here’s my morning ritual:
- Morning meditation.
- Pranayama. I work on lengthening my inhales and my exhales. I’m currenty at 15-17 seconds per inhale and exhale. According to my amazing teacher, Diane Hudock, it takes a minimum of 15 seconds for real change to happen.
- 10 surya namaskar A s with a blanket under my feet on the hardwood floors (no mat). This is crazy hard, but it gets easier. During this exercise, I maintain my focus on the breath (1 inhale or exhale per movement), engaging the bandhas and my drishti (where I’m gazing). I make sure to keep my down dog long and consciously initiate movement from my core center.
- 1 minute navasana (boat pose). I recently discovered that I’m sitting too far back on my pelvis with my legs fully extended. So I put my ego away and have gone back to bent legs for now until I have the strength to maintain my chest forward.
I’ll will continue to do this on a daily basis hoping I will tap into that power and one day press up into a handstand. Until then, my Hanuman on my rearview mirrow will remind me that it is possible.