I don’t have a very strong home practice. I don’t always wake up with the discipline to start my day doing yoga. This is something I vowed to change. I set my alarm clock (not my phone) and wanted do yoga before I checked any emails or calls.
I did a semi interesting self imposed routine nothing that profound until… I realized I had been standing completely still for 5 maybe 10 minutes. And I realized I finally understand how to stand.
Mountain pose is my second favorite pose to teach. Why? Because it’s pretty much corpse pose (savasana) standing up! I also enjoy it because it’s very detailed . It also helps everyone everyday. I know with my students if I keep re emphasizing something as basic as standing- over time this will improve their quality of life . If we learn how to properly stand we can eliminate lower back pain, shallow breathing, and anxiety while improving blood circulation and balance.
As I stood there truly still, light and balanced I noticed how finely turned I had become in my own body. The detail of my foot work. My weight was so perfectly distributed on the balls and heel of my feet. It was as if the ground had molded to me not the other way around. Climbing higher my awareness of the bones ( knees subtly bent) in alignment all the way up to my hips, my front hip bones were ever so slightly tilted up allowing my back tailbone to drop down. Every movement I am describing here is extremely subtle.
Often when standing we allow the belly to hang. I had to remind myself to pull the pelvic floor up and in, bring my belly button closer to my spin, direct my inhale into the sides of my ribs and back. This did not mean my shoulders raised. When we breathe our shoulders should release down the the back and draw away from the ears. Gently tilt the chin parallel with the earth.
The only way I could describe it was as if I was standing on top of my legs. As if my torso and been place on two divine pillars and I was simply existing above it. Although I teach and practice yoga a lot it was certainly this experience in my home practice where I got to see the beautiful empire of my work beginning to take hold. Your body is an instrument and needs conditioning to be so in tune. But I promise some days in yoga you will feel true alignment with your body and mind and that is where the spirit shines.
I think more then anything what we really want to do is communicate through our soul, but because we didn’t have the knowledge or tools to access our spirit, we communicate through ego. As a result things we covet tend to be materialistic. This lead us into becoming a nation of consumerism.
To communicate by soul, means we have to have a communion with our “selves” with our “higher purpose.” This can be a very confusing journey inward (as our ego for so long has ruled our mindset and will quickly encourage you “give up” because “this feels uncomfortable”) the ego will quickly identify with your lack of “results” and quite often misguides and misleads you back into consumption of fulfillment that someone else is selling (slick gym clothes, air brushed models on magazines, sodas, makeup, candy, fast food, expensive things).
The ego will mislead you and never let you walk over or through the bridge that leads to your higher consciousness . Here, in that space exists your dream. Your truth. Your limitless potential. Here is your beauty, your grace and your timelessness. It is your inner spirit dwelling inside you, a life force waiting to be called upon and heard. It is always speaking to you-but in a world where we are so assaulted not only by outer noise but also frantic inner noise, our minds tend to be busy, distracted, unfocused and sadly to say probably negative.
Look at yourself inside, the health of your body and your mind. Yoga is the manifestation of us realizing our pure potential! Deep inside you is a treasure, a truly unique gift that separates you from everyone else on earth. When we practice yoga we begin to align our inner spirit with the universal spirit.
After attending a workshop by spiritual leader Todd Savvas I learned that this Chinese new year (although has many promising blessings) happens to also mean I will be visited by the Energy Reducing Star. After sleeping an unusual amount last week I already feel it’s affects taking hold. What’s a gal like me to do?
Yoga of course!
Do you feel low energy? (I usually feel a lull in the late afternoon). But have no fear, instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, there are great yoga poses that bring an uplifting energetic effect!
Side Body Stretches
Here with the arms raised over head and gently leaning to one side, begin to open the ribs. Lengthening and creating space here opens up the intercostals along the side body and can create an uplifting effect. Be mindful that your shoulders don’t tilt down towards the floor, keep the side body long and open. Be gentle with the stretch do not over do it. I like to take deep breathes to help open up my lungs, deeper breaths = more oxygen = more energy!
After lengthening and breathing into each side I continue until I feel open and elongated (usally 2-3x). I like to follow this side stretch with spinal rolls. This helps tension melt away from the body because the body needs to fully relax in order to roll up and down.
After this pose you can gently come into Sukasana, easy pose. Sit with your legs crossed and spine lengthens through the crown of your head. Inhale one arm up and over as the other supports you on the ground. Gently repeat a few times on each side.
From here, gently come onto you hands and knees into a table top position. Inhale the hips up to the sky and end with Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog). Try to stay in this pose for at least three long smooth slow inhales and three long smooth and slow exhales. Here the blood and the lymph nodes will be affected by the reverse of gravity. It benefits the heart by easing blood flow to the brain. It also can change your perspective and lift your mood.
Side body stretches and Down Dog are great preparatory poses for our final asana, which is Handstand. (If you are a beginner then I recommend staying in down dog). Hand stands are a wonderful way to change your mood and energy! I’ve never seen someone come out of their handstand without a smile! And remember you can always do this next to a wall for support.
This 10-15 minute mid afternoon routine is a sure way to help increase energy and vitality in the mind body and spirit. Of course you can also do it at any time and be sure to finish with a nice peaceful meditation (even if it is a short one). It will help you focus on what you really need to achieve!