Monday, January 28, 2013

The Hardest Pose in Yoga

Well today is the day that I have promised for a while, I am going to actually talk about a yoga pose!  It is often said to be the hardest pose in your practice, well you may have already guessed by now from the picture that it's not handstand.  Yep, it's Shavasana, corpse pose. Did you read that correctly? Shavasana the hardest pose. Goodness look at the gentleman in the picture, he looks totally "zened" out.  By the way don't you just love how the light is falling across his body. 

As a clarification,  I didn't say it was the hardest physical pose, I said it was the hardest pose and the most important in your yoga practice. Done as the last pose of your practice as you release all muscular tension and you take this time to repair and recharge, find a balance before you come out and enter the world again. Ideally it should last 10 to 15 minutes if not longer.  But of course some of us in the Western world shorten it up considerably so we can get that last boat pose or headstand in.  (as a side note I am working on bringing  a proper Shavasana back into my classes). It is somewhat of an intimidating pose because our heart is open our body is in a vulnerable position and we are asked to just let go and trust.  That's where the hard part comes in.

I always like to think of Shavasana as that final blessings to yourself or from a higher power, to seal up the practice that you just worked so hard at.  I was raised in the Catholic church and  wondered in amazement at all of the people who would leave church right after receiving communion.  They didn't even go back to their seats, just straight out the back door.  I still want to yell at them "wait, where are you going, you are missing the best part, the final blessing".  " The Mass is ended, go in peace" or "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord".  Why would you not want to receive that?  We all could use a lot more peace in our lives.

I remember being in a yoga class years ago where it was like a revolving door, people coming and going during the class and then half the class getting up and leaving before the final "blessing".  I never went back.

Now Shavasana isn't about sleeping, even though that sometimes happens. Think of it as active relaxation. Sort of a reflection of the practice that you just experienced.  Enjoy, noticing the new sensation of your body.

You don't have to save Shavasana for the end of your yoga practice.  Enter it when you need to find some silence or if you are having trouble falling asleep.   Start at your toes and slowing work your way up your body as you consciously release and relax every muscle till you reach the crown of your head.  And yes of course, don't forget to breath.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

We Are All Related....

Mitakuye Oyasin
(All My Relations or We are All Related)

~A Lakota Indian Prayer
This past Sunday one of our teacher trainees, Amanda H., brought in her parents for "show & tell".  They were visiting from South Dakota where they live on a Indian Reservation with the Lakota Indians. They shared with us that the reservation is located in the poorest county in the country. 
We were explaining to them what the salutation Namaste meant and they shared with us the prayer above.  Their visit was short but wanting to know more abut the prayers and through the miracle of google this is what I found  "To pray this prayer is to petition God on behalf of everyone and everything on Earth.  Mitakuye Oyasin honors the sacredness of each person's individual spiritual path, acknowledges the sacredness of all life (human, animal, plant, etc.) and creates an energy of awareness which strengthens not only the person who prays but the entire planet."
This just reinforces my belief that we are all on the same path to happiness, no matter our race, religion, or social background.  We all want the same thing because we are all related.  Mitakuye Oyasin my dear friends and don't forget to breathe.
P.S. Just don't you just love the picture!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's Required to Start a Yoga Practice?

When I was in high school I wasn't very athletic.  As a 4' 11" incoming freshman at an all girl high school, basket ball obviously wasn't an option.  Field hockey, I wasn't really all that coordinated. I tried out for the cheer leading team and didn't make it, still not quite sure why. Hmmmm, could be that coordination thing.

Why am I bringing up all of these ghosts from the past, which I thankfully have learned to let be in the past. Well, coincidentally, a gal that I went to high school with is now a student at Santosha. We really didn't hang around (do they still say that) in the same group but knew of each other and it was nice to re-connect. I had asked her the other day if she ever thought she would be taking yoga classes from me.  Her answer....".no, because you weren't athletic in high school."

So that brings me to the title of this post, what's required to start a yoga practice?   Do you have to be a certain height or weight....nope.  Do you have to be in a certain age group...nope. Do you have to be coordinated...nope.  Do you have to be athletic...nope.

So what is required?  Do you have to be able to breath...yes. Do you need to have a willingness to to change....yes.  Do you need to have the understanding that there is a another way...yes. Do you need to have the ability to honor your body...yes.  Do you need to possess the desire to have fun...yes. Everything else will follow.

There is a song from the mid 1960's by Buffalo Springfield (yes I keep on telling you that I am that old) and the first two lines of the song are  "There's something happening here. What is is ain't exactly clear...  I play it sometimes in my classes because the lyrics remind me of the magic of yoga.  Not sure sometimes how is all happens but it just does.  How do you start.....just breathe.