Back from Thanksgiving and, Idon’t know about you, but I’m finding the need for balance, in diet- navigating my way from abundant meat and cheese (until Christmas, creamy fondue and Calabrese salami!) and back to hot rice cereal, greens and lean protien… and practice! Whew! Moving on in the series we find ourselves moving from grasping our toe as though for dear life long, extended and upright, into Dekasana, or Airplane Pose… I’m guessing (cuz I don’t really know) a modern, 20th century evolution of Virabhadrasana III, or Warrior III. Regardless, a welcome relief from the intensity of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, or Extended Hand-to-Toe! From the extended leg, hand-to- toe, the leg is brought forward briefly yet again where the toe is released, controlled of course, not dropped… the hands grasp the hips and that extended leg is lightly, strongly extended forward from the hip. Alternatively, that leg can be supported by the hands, fingers intertwined below the hamstring- my preference, in fact. more »
Tag-Archive for » surrender «
I’ve raved written in the past about this wonderful book of stories before.
In Jon M. Muth’s Zen Shorts, Stillwater, the serene and friendly Giant Panda of a neighbour to three children, siblings Karl, Michael and Addy, offers his own brand of Zen guidance and advice.
Through ancient stories infused with traditional Buddhist teachings, Stillwater provides solutions to the childen’s various individual conflicts.
These stories provide such tangible messages through simple yet engaging narrative along with wonderful artwork, moving between the full colour drawings of Stillwater and the children, and black & white sketches of the various ancient tales.
And while, yes, this is another plug gentle encouragement to give this book to your child, or your neighbour’s child, or your sister’s husband’s mother’s child… or yourself for that matter, it’s really one of the stories I’d like to specifically address here.
It’s the tale of an old farmer and his son. In short, and without infringing on copyright(!), the story has the farmer’s son buying a horse (good luck?), horse running away (bad luck?), horse returning with two other wild horses (good luck?), boy attempts to ride one of them and is thrown, breaking his leg (bad luck?), shortly thereafter visited by military recruiters who won’t accept him due to his injury (good luck?)….
And so it is. With each new circumstance the ever-sympathetic neighbours qualify it with either judgement, “such good luck” or conversely, “such bad luck”, to which the wise old farmer consistently and simply replies, “maybe’.
The message, as summed up by young Michael to the gentle Stillwater, “Maybe good luck and bad luck are all mixed up. You never know what will happen next.”
Hmmmmmm. Wonderful messages and a certain must read for any child… or adult….
Well, as eager as I may have been, the ol’ bones were not so. The juices took some time to get flowing, the furnace some time to get warm and therefore the joints, muscles and tendons some time to let go and allow me to move, albeit slowly, through my practice.
What also took some time, was me convincing myself… or shall I say the gentle voice inside my head, when it was finally able to make itself heard over the mean, nasty critical voice inside my head, convinced me after several turns through less than energetic sun salutations A and B, that I could pull back. That it was quite alright to take it slow. Let everything move at a pace it- I- needed rather than that which I’d have preferred.
That takes some doing, I must say. Outside of a vacation, and even then it can be questionable, what with all the activities we tend to plan… we are so not conditioned to taking a step back into ease. Into letting our bodies say, through their tension and tenderness, ‘go gently’. Closing the door to the judgment of our own minds and expectations and allowing quiet and serenity through instead.
We are far more inclined to push forward, ignoring the signs and twinges, in our quest for the ‘challenge’ that is often synonomous with yoga, and the ‘workout’ that yoga, in our 21st century fast & furious frame of mind, has become. Also, as with many of us, I enjoy the feeling of pushing and challenging my body in yoga in the seemingly unlimited ways it can do so. It’s an activity in which my body typically accepts, embraces and responds to pushing further… hence it’s one I enjoy the most.
But sometimes in yoga- as in life- the challenge comes in stepping back, embracing ease. Consciously saying, and accepting- that with this general feeling of lethargy, I will pass on my powerful sequence today and enjoy some balance. Perhaps, with this little twang in my lower back, I might better enjoy some gentle focus on the core.
I’ll revisit this all again in my practice tomorrow… but today I take satisfaction in having done it… and listened.
The Gap. It’s not just at the mall… no, it’s also the place that is the silence between your thoughts… a place few, if any, of us even know exists, let alone visit.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Meditation can be the path that allows us a way in which to access this space. It is a space of compassion, surrender and peace. Consider your thoughts. They are of the past and of the future. Active, energetic, and largely unaware. It is in the space between those thoughts where the present- awareness- lies and as long as we remain disconnected from that space, we exist disconnected from the present… and ultimately, true contentment.
Learning to meditate, and making it a regular part of one’s day, allows you to practice presence- awareness. However, it’s not merely a function of sitting in quiet. It’s more than that… more work, to be honest! To simply sit in quiet often invites the monkeys to come to play… say, the Wickersham brothers on ‘roids, where you are sure to wish each of them a pleasant, ‘good day’, perhaps take an occasional do-si-do, as they pass through (some days, seemingly on loop)… ummm… OK, maybe that’s just me!
OMG… One of my favourite postures. I can stand in Tree Pose for (insert ValleyGirl accent here) like, forever.
From Mountain Pose, the trusty and so very foundational, Tadasana… I’m presuming toes are already spread, three points engaged, arches drawing up, with big ol’ quadriceps pulling kneecaps heaven-ly… bring weight to left foot. With the help of a hand, bring the right foot up, sole of foot to inside of thigh. Thanks to a ‘bit’ of lovely inner thigh flesh, I am able to bring my foot right below my crotch, to rest… ‘thank you’ inner thigh flesh.
I like to bring my attention to the energy between foot and thigh to establish a secure, steady posture. In pressing one against the other with each responding in kind, there’s a fantastic and stabilizing force that helps to ensure the steady… as well, eyes relaxed, gaze fixed- read:blurred- down the length of the nose. Shoulder blades are drawing down either side of the spine towards the tail bone, which is drawing towards the floor.
Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh… Hands to Namaste. When you feel a good stability, one where you might just feel like staying there all day, bring arms up overhead. Conscious of shoulder blades drawing down and long.
Don’t forget to breathe, of course. A nice ujayii. Relaxed, yet engaged. After a count of however many makes for a thorough appreciation for the posture for you, gently bring foot down. Rest, breathe in Tadasana, and regain your stable foundation.
Repeat on other side.
I love this posture. In it I feel strong. Everything is active. While I have a natural sense of balance I love the confirmation this posture gives me.