Updated: Dec 18, 2021
More often than I’d like to admit, I come to my mat from a stuck, scattered and distracted place. I'm drawn to the practice of yoga with the end goal of hopefully obtaining some freedom or clarity.
Movement doesn’t always result in forward motion or direction though, especially if you're feeling disoriented to begin with, but there is something intrinsic about stepping on the mat. Your mat knows you, even when you are lost.
Ever since I first heard the term, I've loved the concept of True North. It's the idea that within each of us lie coordinates to our individual truth. True North is like a treasure map, with our life's purpose at the 'X'.
In the physical practice of yoga, the essence of True North looks like Tadasana, Mountain Pose. Anatomically, it is the basis for alignment in the body: feet grounded, muscle supporting bone, an integrated core, with an open heart and steady gaze to top it all. An embodiment of True North Alignment, Tadasana forms the foundation for all other yoga poses.
In life, True North looks like standing on your own two feet, confident and self assured. It has the solidity of diligence and determination, enhanced with empathy and virtue. Standing in Tadasana is a practice in standing in your power. The key to walking in and living in your True North though, is love and a clear vision.
The Earth rotates on the geographic north and south poles. The geographic north and south poles are where the Earth's meridians converge in the north. Similarly, we humans revolve on poles located at our heart and head. So too, our energetic meridians converge at the heart.
When you set up in Tadasana, you can understand how your muscles and bones are designed to function and you begin to appreciate what your natural design is simply by feeling it. It's magic when you move from this aligned place. Your organs function better, your breath comes more easily and your mind is calmer; things just feel right.
Because the Earth (and Heart) is one big magnet, Magnetic North Pole – is not always the same as the geographic (anatomic) north. Just as a compass aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field, the Self is drawn to alignment with the heart. The two don't always line up however, which is why we come back to our mat.
It is important to note that there is also a difference between geographic (anatomic) and magnetic (heart) north that is called the magnetic inclination. Magnetic deviation (aka, outside influences) is the error of a compass needle based on the influence of nearby metallic objects. Take the analogy a couple steps further, [insert the appropriate societal pulls: family, community, social media, media at large] and you've got all kinds of distractions pushing and tugging you out of place. Luckily, you can adjust for magnetic inclination (as well as outside influences) through local calibration. The power of choice and the gift of awareness allow us to make shifts to align with where we are at any given moment.
To stand in Tadasana - or land in any other shape that gives access to the same intention - is an opportunity to recalibrate. By rooting to the Earth, creating a stable foundation, or making space within the body for unique expression, you regain access to the integrity of True North and a chance to reconnect with your truth.
The world we live in is dynamic. Earth is changing every day. Shifts continue to happen below the Earth's crust and within your physical space too. True North and your relationship to it will transition and relocate, over again. It is when you are feeling disoriented and lost, that your mat will welcome you back and help you find your way home, like a guiding star. That is why we come back to the practice of yoga, to remember what it feels like to live in alignment with your heart and move in the direction of your truth.