Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wind, wind, and more wind

I loved New Zealand – LOVED IT!! I do not, however, think I could live there. It is one of the windiest places I have ever been, and I recently read (though sadly I do not remember where), that Wellington is actually the windiest place on the planet. They do not call it Windy Welly for nothing. This week, Tucson has felt like Wellington, with one key difference. Tucson being the desert, we have the added benefit of dust. Lots of dust. One day I could not even see the mountains, and the surround the city!

And yes, wind actually has something to do with yoga and the law. One aspect of yoga that has never graced the pages of this blog is the medicinal aspect, called Ayurveda medicine. It is an ancient Indian healing system still in use today, and becoming more and more popular in the United States. A gross, gross generalization of one of its most basic tenets is that all people can be divided into 3 categories or types or some combination of those types. They are: vata, pitta, or kapha. Each type is associated with certain elements and qualities.

Today, I am only going to talk about the first, vata, because it is associated with the energy of wind. When vata energy is out of balance in someone, they can become, similar to the wind, erratic and powerful with no visible cause. Our bodies can feel light and airy, which can cause us to feel unsettled. Someone once told me that one of the greatest cause of suicide of the early pioneers crossing the Great Plains of the United States was the wind. It literally drove people crazy.

 When the wind is at its most intense, issues arise out of nowhere, people are less than their most kind when interacting with each other, and we all tend to feel a bit “off,” but there is no visible reason why . . . until we realize how ungrounded we are. In a world that is constantly go, go, go, yoga is an opportunity to stop and reflect for a moment. It is a chance to slow the movement and give us a chance to reflect. It is also grounding. When we are grounded, we are literally solid and connected to a deeper support structure. The Earth can hold us in its strength. The wind comes along and rips that away from us. While it is not as destructive as an earthquake (except when it hits tornado levels, as the United States continues to realize), it has the same ungrounding effect but without the sudden shock. It is just there. All the time.

This is my second spring experience this year. Interestingly, as the Earth comes into its equinox, the wind picks up, throwing all of us out of our own personal balance. So what do we do about it? A simple piece of the solution is to stand in Tadasana, Mountain Pose. It is in Tadasana that we solidly place our feet on the ground, and imagine we hold the strength and solidity of a mountain. No matter how powerful the wind becomes, it cannot knock over a mountain. By standing in Mountain Pose, we can begin to teach our body to hold that same strength always.

But I am also going to suggest one other pose, perhaps because it holds such a dear place in my heart – Vrksasana or Tree Pose. Trees can definitely fall over in the wind, but if I learned one thing hiking around the windiest country in the world, it is that most of the time, they simply adapt and grow with the wind. They dig in their roots, and while they make look precarious on the mountain’s edge, they hold their ground solidly.

Trees hanging onto the side of a mountain in New Zealand.

When we feel our most erratic and disjointed, a strong reminder that no matter how powerful the wind can be, our roots can hold us steady in the Earth, is a great reminder.

How do you notice the wind’s effects? What do you do to respond?


© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved.


  1. Thanks for reminding me: When we lived in Southern California, the 'santa-ana' winds often brought out the same sort of behavior from folks -- as though the wind blew their 'calm switch' to the 'uncalm' position and their reactions flowed from a place of anxiety.

    Thanks for your post...

  2. I love your blog. You are so consistently thoughtful and interesting.