Bend for strength

During a Yoga class, the wicked side of my ego challenged me and domineered. I already had a tender glut and during Halasana I pushed myself, ignoring the gentle humming. A rip and then ripple of pain ensued. The literal pain in my butt prompted me to leave class stressed out instead of blissed out. Bottom line is that I’m carrying an injury and will be for some time, which only I am responsible for. Admittedly the challenge of dealing with the injury shook me. However, once I had gained my composure, reflecting positively on the situation delivered new found knowledge and wisdom, which has evolved my Yoga asana practice.

This injury has been a blessing really, it has allowed me to tap into my core stretch and find space. Allow me to explain. In Utkatasana, Chair pose you bend your knees, raise your arms. Sure, our leg and arm muscles are worked, but the intensity of the pose is felt in the diagram and heart. The pose seriously powers up our Agni, digestive fire. Perhaps it is called “fierce pose” for this reason. Now consider this, bending your knees when flowing from Tadasana, Mountain pose to Uttanasana, standing forward bend and halfway lift could offer the same benefit. Additionally, if a backbend is actually a forward stretch, then bending your knees can work the muscles through your frontal plane. This will elongate your psoas muscle that connects our upper and lower extremities together. Furthermore, the psoas affects our posture, helping to stabilise our spine. A tight psoas can cause serious postural problems and is a common cause of low back pain and stiffness.

It is called Yoga “practice with intention. Through constant enquiry, having the courage to unsettle the flow of what you know can bring change and evolve your practice. Even the slightest modification can reveal illuminating and great effects. By slightly (and at times generously) bending my knees, my core is stronger. This in turn has opened up my chest and shoulders and strengthened my thighs. My Chaturanga flow has improved significantly. The might of my Virabhadrasana, Warrior 1 and 2 is attacked with greater force to remain present and still in the pose for longer. I could go on, but I hope you get the point, as it wouldn’t be very Yog to massage the ego for too long!

Yogis I invite you to in tune and listen with your body. Our bodies are quite brilliant at giving us subtle and explicit signs. Humble graceful beauty is yours if you acknowledge and respect the signs. Tap into your wisdom, appreciate your capabilities and remain true to yourself. In the adversity of facing your fears you will fall occasionally. This is worthy because such an act is how you can let go. Try not to give credence to what you think you should be doing and how you should be doing it. Just be, so you can create the space and “root down to transcend”.

So remember there is no right or wrong way when it comes to Yoga, just your way. Ultimately any form of movement or contemplative stillness is good, because it harnesses and creates expandable energy.

 


Quotes inspired by Thanksgiving

Miracles take place every day in every way, yet sometimes we are too caught up in our materiality to be thankful for the gift of life, let alone to be present and thankful for the people, places, events and things that shape our world. In the presence of our nearest and dearest, at a time of year when we honor the abundance of the harvest which Mother Nature yields. Thanksgiving is at our door, so here are a few gratifying quotes to inspire thanks on this fine American holiday.

Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.

- Oprah Winfrey

 

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.

- Henry Van Dyke

 

Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.

- Amy Grant

 

Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.
-
W.T. Purkiser

 

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

- William Arthur Ward

 

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

- Charles Dickens

 

Enough' is a feast.

- Buddhist proverb

 

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.

- Gerald Good

The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.

- Michael Josephson

 

The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.

- Charles Schwab

 

Forget yesterday--it has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow--you haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift--today.

- Steve Maraboli

 

I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I'm going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity, and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice.

- Mike Ericksen

 

This a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before.

- Maya Angelou

 

Happy Thanksgiving Yogis, be thankful, show gratitude, be blessed, be loved.


The Gift of Gratitude

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others

- Cicero

The gift of gratitude giving is far more than a meagre thank-you for all you have received. It’s a state of perception, mindfully taking the time to pause and savour everything that surrounds our lives. It can alter our sensitivity with regard to all the occurrences which take place in our lives. It can lead us from shadows of darkness, back to our Devine light, our authentic self if you will.

As human beings, we have been blessed with a conscience and the freedom to make our own choices. Naturally we will stumble and fall and if we resist by not taking ownership of our actions, our darkness will persist. Always polar opposites exist and where there is a breakdown, there is also a breakthrough to be experienced. All you need is the courage embrace yourself, love yourself, and give yourself permission to be you, then face up and get back up again.

The basic path back to grace is wonderfully simple, as many of the best things in life are. The gift of gratitude is a timeless practice which never wanes. It is available to be undertaken without cost, at any present moment, the only moment in time which truly matters. With Thanksgiving and Christmas looming, contemplation on what we have to be thankful for increases. The benefits are immense. It can improve spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social health, such as creating new wholesome relationships, reduce tension and improve sleep and mental strength.

Gratitude can nourish your life every day, gifting you a superb occasion to create space and honour your authentic-self. Like any skill in life worth having, it takes time, dedication and practice.

Smile

It's the way our souls say hello to the outside world just as the flowers bloom to radiant sunshine. A smile takes but a fleeting moment, yet to someone in need (and this includes you) the good which ensue can be immeasurable.

Start small and let it flow

All the little things add up to equal the bigger things. Be silent, be still and centre your thoughts on gratitude and let it flow. Focus on the abundance you have in your life. The food on your plate, the birds singing, stars shining, a mutual smile between strangers, mothers’ everlasting love…

Put it out there

If you announce it, you have stated it and let it be so. The written word is a committed word, whether this is a diary entry, post-it on your fridge, a social media post or announcement to family, friends or colleagues.

Pass it on

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle and the life of a candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

- Buddha

Commit and stick to it

The moments (and they will come) when you cannot summon the energy to feel gratitude is the very moment you need it the most. Catch yourself, check-in to create the space for grace and gratitude. Challenges are blessings to help us grow in body, mind and spirit.

Soulful Feeling

Our attitude and approach to anything is a reflection on your soul and how you do everything. Do what makes your soul happy even during the most humble of tasks, be it singing, dancing, Yoga (of course) and see if you can change your fortunes of time.

A Pause of Gratitude

Pausing provides the space to step back and focus on the important stuff. In a go-go-go society, it's a gift to allow ourselves a break to take notice of the blessings we have in our lives.

 

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

- William Arthur Ward

 


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