Philosophy · Poses · Sequence · Whole Mama · Yoga in the Real World

Namaste

“Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.”

– Unknown

Ha.  There’s been some anxiety the past week and a half or so.  I’ve sensed it.  Call me an intuitive.  I know.  I should get paid for this tremendous insight into the collective human psyche.  Naturally anxious myself, I have found myself feeding the swirl of unfocused fear, anger, and confusion with a constant intake of NPR, Huffington Post, and the occasional binge on post-election late-night comedy monologues.    I live in a bubble of a town in North Carolina with coffee shops on almost every corner, a community co-op, at least 5 yoga studios at last count, and two kava bars.  There was a collective intake of breath and an abundance of tissues last Wednesday.   The definition of a liberal echo chamber.

As the dust settles and the Clinton/Kaine signs are removed from front yards, we are left to ponder the unknown and to sit with our thoughts.  My first thought, like so many, was “Really?,” followed by a surge of anger and a deep sense of disappointment.   I was angry at Donald Trump, angry at the people who voted for him and I was incredibly disappointed in America.  It was humbling to realize, once again, my privilege – to be disappointed but fearful only in a broad, vague sense.   To be angry because I felt that a wrong had been committed against a broad swath of the American public but, also, against me personally.  As a woman, I have certainly experienced discrimination but not to nearly the depth or extent of many other targets of Trump’s rhetoric.  It was humbling, also, to realize that my initial assumptions and presuppositions of Trump’s supporters were not always spot on in their accuracy.

While visiting my grandparents in rural Pennsylvania when I was in elementary school, I rolled my eyes  when asked if I wanted to take a tractor ride.  Having witnessed my response, my dad turned to me and said, “Lauren, it takes all people to make up this world.”  My response then was similar to the one I had last week.  A tremendous eye roll and a dismissal of up to 50% of our country’s population.  In my anger and in my sadness I failed to see the humanity in us all.  I embraced an “us against them” mentality – the same one that I so ardently railed against.

I wondered whether it was possible to both disagree with the choice  on a fundamental level, while still recognizing, authentically, the light in each of us.  Namaste?  The saying that translates loosely as “there is a light that shines within each of us and when I am in that place in me and you are in that place in you, together we are one” seemed more necessary now than ever.  And yet, it was hard to recognize the humanity in each of us at a time when the country’s divisiveness had constructed such a wall (for lack of a better term).

It wasn’t until a yoga class with a beloved teacher on Monday evening that I was reminded that yoga provides us with incredible tools, one of which is the capacity to tap into a deeply rooted sense of self.  A centered self that, when accessed, can be illuminating in its ability to intuit connection, both with our own physical, emotional and mental being, and with the same energy that exists in all of humankind, even, and especially, in those with whom we may have cardinal differences.  Additionally, when we are more grounded emotionally, we have a greater capacity to realize change, to act with a sense of deep purpose.  Feeling centered and balanced and acting from a place of calm does not equate to apathy.  Nor does having passion for my own beliefs necessitate a failure to recognize the innate value of each life.

The external noise of the election and the sources of commentary surrounding sometimes make it challenging to quiet my own mind, to feel centered, to remember our collective humanity.  If you, like me, find yourself in need of a firm foundation, the following is a good practice for grounding.  Namaste.  For real.

childspose2

  • Start in child’s pose.  Take several breaths, paying particular attention to the back body and the weight of your hips on your heels, your head on the floor.

dd

  • Transition to downward facing dog.  Take a few breaths here, stretching the tops of your thighs back and reaching your heels toward the space behind you. 

    open-hip-lunge

  • Step your right foot forward to a lunge and lower your back knee.  Take a moment or two sinking into your hips and then begin to press the back knee down into the ground and your front foot into the floor.  Without moving them, energetically draw them towards one another so that both inner thighs engage.  

  • Bring both hands to the inside of your right foot and release your knee to the right.  Engage your foot by flexing it and actively pressing it into the floor.  

    runner

  • Come back into a low lunge and then shift your hips back to a runner’s stretch, lifting the toes of your right foot and pressing your heel into the ground as you resist the top of your thigh away from you.

parsvo

  • Come back to a lunge and hold for a few breaths and then shift your hips back, straightening your front leg.  When you inhale, shift back to a lunge.  Move with your breath, straightening your front leg as you exhale and shifting back to lunge on an inhale.  

  • Shift back to downward facing dog and repeat the sequence on the left side.

pigeon

  • Come back to downward facing dog and lift your right leg in the air, bending the knee and releasing your foot over to the left side.  Bring your foot forward on an exhalation and shift into pigeon pose.  Stay upright for a few breaths, drawing your left hip forward and shifting your right hip back.  As you fold forward, extend from your hips and encourage the front of your torso to grow heavier.

  • Press back into downward facing dog and repeat pigeon on the left side. 

firelog

  • Lean over to the left and draw your right leg forward.  Bending your right knee, stack your right shin over your left shin and come into firelog pose.  Both feet should be active here, and you can choose to fold forward or stay upright.  Using support under a knee or hip here can be helpful if your hips are tighter.  Repeat on the other side.

hero

  • Finish the sequence by coming into hero pose, extending out from your hips through your knees and taking a few minutes here.  

  • Feel free to add in any poses that are helpful in opening the hips, releasing the psoas,  and/or lengthening the quadricep muscles.  All poses that allow us to connect with and release the lower body can be particularly grounding in their impact and effect.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *