How could November have gone so quickly? It slipped away in a bliss of turkey, cheeses, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, greens, pie, and wine. On Thanksgiving Eve, I taught a candlelight flow yoga class. I didn’t know what to expect for attendance; turns out many people were feeling a need to get to their mat before the big day of thanks was upon us. It was a large and lovely attendance!
In that class, my offered intention was gratitude for the ability to move our bodies. Thanksgiving is often about the gratitude you feel externally, and I wanted to turn that internally, to the very breath and moment of the practice. Each pose, each transition, each breath – grateful we could do it.
When each student arrived, I asked them, “What’s one of your favorite poses to do in yoga class?” Each person had a different pose to offer… Little did they know I was writing them all down on a notecard and composing our class for the night. The offerings ranged from childs pose to dancer pose, from reverse warrior to legs up the wall pose. Some arm balances, some deep twists, all mixed in for good measure.
Our class was our favorite poses and the gratitude we feel to be able to do those poses and the favorite poses of our fellow yogis in the room. It was a moving, strong, flowing practice; it may end up being my favorite from the entire year.
What’s one of your favorite yoga poses to do in your yoga practice?
In this beautiful fall month, I find myself focused on “fall cleaning.” It’s the same concept as spring cleaning: making space for what we need, ridding ourselves of what we don’t need. I think it comes from my Minnesota roots, feeling the impending winter coming and that it means being inside with all my stuff for six months.
In the yoga teachings, we find the niyamas which are the guiding principles of things to do. The niyamas are something we work towards in our yoga journey. The first of the niyamas is saucha. Saucha is the cleansing, purifying principle. We take care of ourselves through physical cleansing and purifying. We take care of ourselves emotionally and mentally by cleansing our thoughts and letting go.
Through several twist variations on traditional poses, we create warmth in our bodies, tighten our muscles, sweat a bit, smile a lot. We let go of the extra hindrances we feel in our mental and emotional space by making room for gratitude. I also mixed in heart openers to expand through the chest muscles, relax the pectorals, and literally open the heart space a little more.
If anyone else practices “fall cleaning” in their life, I would be happy to hear about it! Namaste.
Cultivating Peace. It’s not an easy task. Yogis come bustling into a studio with so much to shed; their day, their week, their shoes, their stresses; their fatigue; their tension; their distractions; their keys; their cell phones.
Lately we’ve been playing with weight and props, like sandbags, to connect to the breath, to ground ourselves into the moment, and quiet literally ground ourselves to the mat. Sometimes we start on our backs in supine bound angle pose, knees open, soles of the feet pressed together with a sandbag across the hip bones. The weight settling us when sometimes our minds can’t. The rooting down of the back foot in Warrior I. The press of the palms to the mat in Downward Facing Dog. The fold and surrender in low lunge, gravity bringing the hip flexor lower with each breath, sinking… melting… giving into the hip. Then, a twist on the floor to release the back, shoulders connected to the earth. Finally, legs up the wall pose, with a sandbag across the feet, pushes the hips more firmly to the floor. Here, we took the stillness and peace of savasana for several minutes.
Inspiration found in the most unsuspecting moments: bathroom wall of my amazing chiropractor at West Hills
Chiropractic Clinic. www.westhillschiropractic.com
It does not mean to be in a place where there is
no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.
I can’t credit the originator of the quote, but I wanted to share it with all of you.