What's the bigger picture? (A Personal Testimony)
A busy-addict schoolteacher in 2001, I was first attracted to yoga because of how it could physically challenge me to my edge, as I only viewed it as exercise then. In any workout, I often overexerted myself, motivated by self-reprimanding discipline, ego-driven competition or catharsis for repressed emotions. 2006 hit me with a year of frustrating stillness and sadly slowing down, recovering from surgery after a dance injury.
Yoga then played a new role--a tool for genuinely being kind to myself, and thus, awakening to the bigger picture or WHY behind everything I did. I gave myself permission to not always push to my edge--to value rest and balance.
Living abroad teaching in 2009 brought a lot of alone time, amplifying the voice of my inner critic, which fueled much of my obligation to busy-ness and self-torturing workouts. A more dedicated yoga practice began peeling layers of my resistance to vulnerability and learning to listen compassionately to this inner critic, realizing the past experiences that gave it a voice. Love began coloring my approach to exercise, yoga, eating, running, working--everything. Busy-ness became less a currency of my self worth.
When I'm tempted to fall into my old mindset, Mother Nature kindly taps me to look over my shoulder as I'm on my computer intensely doing office work. She whispers through a beautifully fading sunset: Psst...remember the bigger picture. And I go upside down to get a fresh perspective.
Yoga & Mindfulness Writings…
Yoga Sutra Chapter 1 Verse 39 offers another revitalizing tool for attaining the goal of yoga, which is union with greater consciousness, or enlightenment: through contemplation (or dhyana, in Sanksrit) of love. It invites us to act, in daily life and in physical (asana) practice, with the motive of love to help align us with our bigger picture as beings on the path of awakening.
Mindfulness Author Pema Chodron shared:
When things are properly understood, one’s whole life is like a ritual or a ceremony. Then all the gestures of life are mudra, and all the sounds of life are mantra—sacredness is everywhere.
Great Poet Rumi encouraged:
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
Spinal Twists with Love…
This week’s asana sessions will focus on spinal twists, and their ability to help peel layers of stuckness—in digestion, in the lower back and in the subtle energy body.
Yoga Journal (Sept-Oct 2004) highlights the importance of spinal twists:
After we exert ourselves in forward folds and backbends, twistscan help reset the spine, coaxing it back to an even keel. This makes twisting an indispensable part of yoga practice, since the spine is, after all, the central axis around which we balance the body from left to right and front to back.
To dive into a deeper understanding of yoga postures and how they may lead to energetic release, emotional detoxification or spiritual awakening, I highly recommend reading The Secret Life of Asana, an informative article that provides a general overview of the tools and potency of Hatha Yoga.
Here are a few sample twisting postures:
Here are 4 Principles for Safe & Effective Spinal Twists, summarized from Susi Hately Aldous’ book, Anatomy and Asana: Preventing Yoga Injuries:
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