The practice of yoga is based on the geometry of the human body and the natural world we inhabit. Our dramatic version of the classic Pyramid Pose was inspired by the asymmetrical crystalline structure that soars above the prayer hall at Toronto’s Ismaili Centre. This pose requires lots of practice, so please be patient with yourself and consider each step along the way a celebration of your own sacred architecture.
1. From a standing position in the centre of your sticky mat, step your right foot forward, as if you are minding a large gap, and turn the left toes out 45 degrees. The feet should be separated left-to-right like they are standing on train tracks rather than on a tightrope.
2. First, inhale both arms skyward and then exhale as you reach your arms and torso toward the horizon, before framing the front foot with your hands. You may use yoga blocks to help you reach the ground if necessary.
4. Turn all ten fingers to face the back of your mat and walk the finger pads towards the foot behind you until your arms straighten and your hands resemble little pyramids. Feel free to bring your blocks along for the ride. Most practitioners will stay right here for five breaths.
5. However, if your flexibility and spirit of adventure allow for it, try pivoting the back heel off the mat, rooting your fingers into the ground and lifting the back foot towards your seat by bending only at the knee. Do your best to keep the hips from shifting forward as you remove the support of your back leg.
When visioning the Ismaili Centre, architect Charles Correa turned the lens of contemporary design on a rich and ancient architectural tradition. According to the website of the Ismaili Centres, “Its design draws upon the traditions of Islamic architecture and incorporates these in a contemporary Canadian context, reflecting the Ismaili community’s permanent presence in Canada as well as its desire to welcome others in an exchange of cultures and ideas.”
YuMee Chung is a recovering lawyer who teaches yoga in Toronto. She is on the faculty of a number of yoga teacher training programs and leads international yoga retreats. Learn more about her at padmani.com.