Adventures In Yoga- Upside Down Shiva You Move Me

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In movies rain is symbolic of change. You know that moment when the main character realizes something that is central to the story or some major event takes place in the rain indicating that something big may be around the corner. Sometimes the use of rain is blatantly obvious representing baptism or rebirth. Think Tim Robbins in Shawshank. He escapes during a thunderstorm. He crawls through a tunnel of shit metaphorically and literally to emerge reborn and free. In this case the rain washes away the wrongs against him- absolving him of the crime of prison break.

 

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Rain is change. And change shows us another point of view.

Handstands help me see the world from another perspective. I am literally turning myself upside down. As a kid I loved to stand on top of dresser and feel how different the bedroom was. It was like living in a new place. Sadly, while I’m plenty fearless in some parts of my life there are a few areas that need an shake-up.

The past few months have been challenging and trying. I’m in the middle of a debate in my head about which direction to take my yoga and it’s been really hard. I’m wavering more because I’m almost sure positive what I want to do but afraid to take the leap. This recent decision isn’t what I planned and is uncharted territory. Irrationally, I started looking for signs to see if I was making a good choice.

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The universe didn’t hit me over the head with a brick but at Jivamukti the monthly focus is inversions. For the past week I’ve been on my head, hands and thinking with my heart.

Shiva the Destroyer blasting through what I thought was real as I kick my legs up.

Shiva the Destroyer bringing me back to earth as I come falling down out of Pincha Mayurasana.

With every fall and every kick back up I am a little more balanced, a little less afraid and a little closer to finding that center.

It’s true that when you change the way you look at things, the way you look at things changes.

Upside down, Shiva you move me.

Namaste y’all.

 

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Ding Dong Goes the Inversion Practice

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I zipped downstairs to an early hot power vinyasa practice with friend Jessica Ashen. She’s a yogi and founder of Spiritual Pretzels Yoga. Jessica brings donation based yoga all over Jersey City. It’s awesome and so is she. Her classes are a mix of being playful and learning how to challenge your body in new ways. Jessica teaches from a place of love that is tangible. As a result, I leave her classes lighter in the heart. I love this because that’s something I used to only get from my hot practice.

Anyway, back to this morning.

It’s great taking classes with a teacher who knows that you teach. They tend to be gently relentless about form and adjustments. I’ve been getting a bit lazy when it comes to stacking my hips over ankles in Uttasana.

No slackin’ with the stackin’ in Jessica’s class. It was what I needed.

Roll  the weight forward onto the toes, roll the weight forward onto the toes, roll the weight forward onto the toes. 

Jessica made an interesting observation about me being in between my vinyasa practice and my hot practice. In hot classes the weight is back in the heels a lot.

Shifting the weight forward into my toes and engaging the low belly and feeling my heels lift,  my body yearned to go higher.

It was my brain that was talking me out of it.

Jessica mentioned Christina Sell and how I need to check out her approach to handstands. I found this video, which is fantastic. She points out that many seemingly unrelated poses connect to turning the body upside down. It’s worth the seven minutes. Check it out.

We did handstand practice again the wall and it felt great. Jessica showed me an exercise that Christina Sell uses called Ding Dong.  As you kick up you alternate tapping feet on the wall. I sort of powered through that and felt good.  Inside my active mind, I thought back to my earlier fold and rolling the weight forward so one day can lift into handstand.

One day I can do it, I thought.

And then…we moved onto practicing Pincha Mayurasana against the wall. It was horrible.   hard.

Oh hello Ego, I didn’t see you sneak into class behind me. Seriously? It’s early, I thought you’d be upstairs asleep with Dakota, or getting coffee down the block waiting to pounce on me later riding my bike to class.

Form matters. It was tough activating my triceps, pushing down and engaging my abs. Sure she could have had me just kick up and play, but there is something to be said for doing it right.

Ugh. Hard work.

“Perfect we have something to work on next time!”, she said.

Groan is what I did.

“Be excited! It’s a new adventure!”

Damn if she wasn’t right. It is a new adventure. Something else I get to explore.

I left with a lighter heart, ready to open the door to the unexpected.

Better still, I reconnected with the foundation of yoga, uniting body and breath.

Yoga keeps reminding me that I can go home again (and again) and that more importantly, I must.

Yoga sweet yoga.

Namaste y’all.

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