I love the idea of a birthday practiced. As I said earlier this month, my yoga practice leads to gratitude and I enjoyed practicing joyful breathing during my birthday week to boot.
So it may not have actually been my day of birth, but August still is my birth month. Thus, I indulged in a little birthday practice this week.
It was a hectic week or so with a trip away from home (first time away for the night without my littlest) and loads of prep for our vacation west; I was happy to see what Adriene had in store.
The Happy Birthday practice was riddled with words like "rebirth" and "wringing out the old". It was a rejuvenating practice that set me anew with more energy and excitement for the upcoming weeks... and literally for the rest of the year!
The asana that made that rebirth feeling so true was Threading the Needle pose or Revolved Child’s pose (Parsva Balasana). I have done this pose over the years but tend to forget about it. Yet, when directed back into this pose, I remember how much I appreciate this pose for all that is does. A unilateral shoulder and chest opener, I love the stretch I feel with the arm up in the air but also when the hand binds behind my back. The support arm also receives a glorious stretch in the posterior deltoid/shoulder, which I find difficult to replicate in any other way. This week's extra busyness had settled into my neck and shoulders so I was quick to jump into the pose and stay there for a while!
As with any twisting pose, it can be looked upon as a "wringing" out pose. Many times I have heard the cueing of twists presented as wringing out the spine as if it was a wet towel that needed to be squeezed to release the water. Perfectly aligned with releasing the old during my birthday month. It is a very powerful visual of detoxification!
What a perfect birthday gift to end my favorite month of the year - August!
Feelings of renewal and ready to take on the thirty-fifth year of my life!
This week's practice almost didn't happen.
Stomach ache in full effect and THIS is my time to do yoga, my inside voice says.
Okay, what's causing this stomach ache. It must be from stress, I rationalize. But what the heck am I stressing about??? Stomach aches have been associated with stress many times in my life. The most notable was either right before a major synchronized swimming event or on the bus ride home from the competition.
I reflect back on my day so far...and can only come up with my usual day-to-day rush of getting out the door. I question whether or not I was panicked in Costco or did I have some pent up road rage?
None. Notta. Nothing. Hmmmmm.
So before getting to much in my head about the pain, I jumped on the mat for a session with Adriene. Scrolling the list of YouTube videos, I land on her Balancing Flow video.
Do I need to balance my flow, I question again with my inside voice.
I'm so glad I started because within minutes of starting, I recall...that darn pineapple.
Well, without self diagnosing myself, I think I've got a sensitivity to raw pineapple. Hawaiian pizza, fine. Carrot muffins (with pineapple), fine. But raw, cut fresh pineapple is not good for me. I tend to half forget that I bothers me and half ignore it in the moment. Fresh pineapple tastes so good but more than two pieces makes me pay for it about an hour later. Acidity maybe the culprit of GI pain.
But it was when I took time to calm, focus and BREATHE did I realize what was going on!
Bonus point - yoga.
As always, I'm so happy that I started to practice as I thoroughly enjoyed the side bend variation Adriene offered. It takes the stretch of the seated side bend and adds some tension with the crossed arm.
In Adriene’s words, “balance of the push and pull”.
In this side bend, which I couldn’t find much in my research this week, was called crossed side bend. Since there is limited information and there is also limited pictures of this lovely pose, so I’ve take a print screen of the video.
This practice was all about balance and this pose epitomized it. Adriene said it best, "This is what hatha yoga is all about…finding a little marriage of the strength and grace, of the push and the pull, press and the squeeze, the sun and the moon, the masculine and the feminine."
BREATHE, balance flow and forget the pineapple next time!
It was my birthday this past week. And I've always taken the opportunity on or around my birthday to do two things.
1. Book my annual physical exam with my doctor, and
2. Reflect on the past year and plan for the next one (okay, sounds like an abridged New Years resolution, which I guess it sort of is).
I've been somewhat successful in doing number two. On the actual day of my birthday, I posted this...
Grateful/Gratitude being the key word here!
My life (read: sleep, body, mental and emotional wellbeing) seems to be settling. Yes, life is different with TWO kiddos but it's not the crazy first year with a baby (and another underfoot). I'm getting more time for me, which I am very thankful for.
This is the new norm.
What that means is I am at a place where I have routine (which I crave) but the ability to reflect on how gosh-darn-blessed I am!
I could write many, many lines of what I have in my life (i.e., loving husband, adoring and adorable, happy, healthy kids, food to eat, a roof over my head, parents who live less than fifteen minutes away, a job I'm excited to go to, etc. etc.) . But instead, I will just say I have everything that I could possibly need.
As I journey to know more about yoga and how to be a teacher, I chose a practice this week that reflects my birthday week...Melt Into Gratitude with my friends over at Do Yoga With Me and Nicky Jones.
Nicki lead me through something I’ve never done before - Joy Breath or Breath of Joy. It was such a refreshing sequence of breathing that I have to consciously remember to do it again over the next year! This pranayama practice would be great to include in my teaching practice too. Who does want to feel joy?! With a little search, I found out it increases oxygen levels in the bloodstream, temporarily stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, circulates more prana, and gently stokes agni.
Joy Breath looked something like this...
Standing in mountain pose - Inhale through nose, again inhale, again inhale, and exhale out of mouth with a forward fold.
Wait a minute. Stokes agni?
What does that mean?
Agni is broadly our ability to process all aspects of life, including food, experiences, memories, and sensory impressions. Okay…I have another thing to learn about! More for another day...
Well, I better get to my other "birthday thing" - call up the doctor for my health,
I love it!
"Yoga has your back."
How aptly stated!
Literally and figuratively speaking. This statement wraps up all the things I love about yoga! This needs to be made into a t-shirt! Hmmm... Maybe I just might make one!!!
This week's practice emphasizes the point that no matter who you are and how you practice, yoga has you covered. So many poses and so many options.
It was further emphasized when I was lead to a pose I recently blogged about - belly twist (Jathara Parivrtti). Thinking that I was going to do it the same way, I really gave it no thought. But as Adriene continued to cue, she led me into another version. One I'd say that was definitely different (and not expected).
In researching for my previous post, I was introduced to straight legged belly twist (Jathara Parivrtti variation). Believing this was the "option or alternative", I never thought it could be anything else (read: either hips and knees both flexed or hips flexed, knees extended). I never even considered that the bottom leg could remain flexed (hip and knee) and the top leg/knee would be straight!
Well - yes - from a technical and biomechanics perspective. Yet, the pose challenged me more than ever...unexpectedly.
The lengthen of the lateral leg (which I totally need...IT band, tensor fascia lata, glute med etc.) was tremendous. So much so that I slightly gasped when I went to the right side! The bottom bent leg offered support and almost acted like a silent player (I assume when both legs are straight, there must be a stretch in that leg too).
It just goes to show that on the surface yoga is simple (do this pose and that pose) but it has so many layers! The more I blog the more I see I have so much to learn about ALL the poses and being a well-versed teacher.
Needing to continue caring for a less painful - knock wood - back, this unexpected belly twist had my back. The best thing I could have asked for!
What yoga pose has your back? I've got too many to count! To more weeks of exploration,
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.