Liminality

July 18, 2014 § 4 Comments

“This”, he said, “is the liminal line”, referring to the hand he held out, palmside down.

“Everything above it, is what we can see, feel, hear, and touch – what we are consciously aware of. Everything below it belongs to the subtle plane, the unknown. The breath lives above and below this line. The goal of yoga, therefore, is to lower the liminal line.

(Words: Steve Dwelley, Ashtanga Santa Barbara. Emphasis mine).

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§ 4 Responses to Liminality

  • D says:

    How to lower the liminal line in asana, example 1: Relaxing the glutes in Urdhva Dhanurasana while keeping the quads engaged and internally rotated.

    Example 2: Externally rotating the shoulders/upper arms in Downward Dog while lengthening the distance between ears and shoulders.

    In other words, learning how to both relax and engage various muscle groups at the same time in order to execute an asana in a way that’s anatomically safe.

  • suzanne says:

    great quote..though my interpretation is somewhat different. he seems to be talking about increasing the total awareness of what you are doing, for example, in your practice (though this seems to be about much more than that). as for doing this in asana- i would start by noticing what is going on when you are in the asana before adding another (potentially confusing) layer of actions onto it…
    so in UD, on a physical, level-

    how are your hands and feet contacting the mat/floor? is there more weight in the hands? the feet? in which part of your hands/feet, and is it the same on each side? which arm or shoulder feels closer to your ear? where are your knees pointed? is it the same on for each leg/knee? is one side of your ribcage or pelvis (or both) higher up off the floor than the other? what is your breath like? is the inhale and exhale even? what does your breath sound like? are you holding your breath? where are you looking–more to one side than the other?

    • D says:

      Your interpretation is not that different from mine. The liminal line for someone just starting out in yoga practice is different from one who has 10 years of daily practice under their belt, so the observations of the body in an asana would prompt different questions from the novice vs the veteran. The type of question doesn’t really matter – it’s the depth of awareness that counts, and grows with time (ie, the lowering of the liminal line).

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