What are you ready to let go of?

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“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go…”
–Hermann Hesse
Last month, we reflected on the achievements of the year–which goals were met, and which ones were not.  As we move fully into the Fall season, we shift our attention now to the process of letting go.  What outworn, or old patterns, of behavior are holding you back?  Are there habits that keep you stuck circling in these old patterns?  What are the physical things associated with these patterns?  And, what can you do differently?

Fear.  Fear of the future.  Fear of failure.  Fear of the discomfort that often accompanies change.  This four letter word quite often keeps us stuck in our old patterns!  It shuts us down and keeps us from seeing possibilities.  This month, to counter some of our natural (and very normal) fear responses we will play!  We will play with the edges of our comfort zones, and strengthen our willingness to break patterns of habit.   Then, we will rest, and let go.

See you on the mat!

P.S.  Here is a short clip of a plank variation (using a “yoga wheel” prop) that is excellent for strengthening the abdominals (a.k.a., your “power” center).  Make sure to place your hands shoulder-width apart; stabilize your shoulder joints by drawing the scapula (your shoulder blades) down onto the back ribs; and, engage your abdominals by drawing your navel in and up towards your spine.  Keep your legs long and lifted, moving the thigh bones away from the floor by contracting your quads (top thigh muscles).  Working with your breath, exhale as you roll the wheel in, inhale as you roll back out.  Repeat 1-8X, as you build strength and coordination.

Transformational Fire

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“The Manipura chakra is like the morning sun; meditating on it with the gaze fixed on the tip of the nose one can stir up the world.”
–Gorakshashatakam (tenth century)

This July, we turn up the heat by building tapas, the fire of transformation.  Into this fire, we place our will and temper our passions.   “A moving object, when it interacts with other objects, creates heat.  Heat, in turn, stimulates movement, which allows new combinations to occur.” [Anodea Judith]  Fire influences change, destroying form and releasing energy.  With this energy, we tap into our innate potential for growth and expansion.

We return again and again to the question, “Are you expanding or contracting?”  (Hint: Expansion is ideal.)  Are you resisting, turning away?  Or, are you facing forward, standing in your power, seeing what is, and then growing larger because of it?

To help us stoke the fire of transformation, we will be practicing Kapalabhati (breath of fire) pranayam.  To do Kapalabhati:

  1. Sit comfortably in an upright posture and rest your hands on your lower belly. If you’re sitting in a chair, make sure to place both feet on the ground.
  2. Take a deep, cleansing breath before you begin, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your belly with air about ¾ way full.
  4. In a quick motion, exhale through your nose, forcefully expelling all the air from your lungs by drawing your navel in toward your spine.
  5. Allow your lungs to fill up naturally, with no effort as your belly expands.
  6. Perform this cycle 10 times, then allow your breathing to return to normal and observe the sensations in your body.
  7. Repeat these cycles of 10 movements, 3 to 4 times.

For a video demonstration, see below: