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April 20 2024-Friendship Celebration and Nourishment: Heart-Opening Yoga Poses and Bruschetta-Making

Updated: Apr 21


Spent time in March I Utah with my friend Dot. Was thinking about what I learn when I spend time with friends and of course am always struck by the power of friendships and how that is integral to mental health. While my husband knows me better than anyone, the knowledge base that a friend that has known you since elementary school has is special. Of course, your family does also, but those memories are impacted by the family dynamic and the roles that are assigned to us early in life. How many of us still find ourselves falling into predictable patterns of behavior when with our siblings? Candidly, this is not always my best self. I digress.


I have a few observations on the power of friendship after my recent visit. Friends can help you dissect a situation with more dispassion than our family members can. My closest friends have known me, and my family, for so long that it is not necessary to explain context. They also will point out when emotions may cloud our decision making and suggest alternative things to consider. Even more importantly, a true friend is not afraid to raise uncomfortable topics or provide a dissenting opinion. From family dynamics, politics or to whether that dress does not look great, a true friend will gently provide an honest observation and knows that we will not react in anger or hurt, knowing that their words come from a place of love and respect.


My friend Dot and I have similar interests, political opinions, and views on life. We do not, however, agree on everything. What we do have is a mutual respect for each other’s views and often engage in lively “debates” on everything from raising our kids, politics and how to handle certain social situations. These conversations always teach me something, not only about my friend but also how to open my mind and consider other options to my ingrained thoughts and beliefs.  I am blessed to have several friendships like this in my life and know that, like those seeds we talked about last week, they need to be cultivated and nurtured and not taken for granted.


This week during out gratitude moments, I suggest that we focus on gratitude for these kinds of friendships; relationships that are healthy and supportive along with frank and true. Reach out to a friend that you value and remind them how much they mean to you. Even better, be there for them when it may not be easy or convenient and let them know they can count on you. This too is yoga.


Our (Physical) Practice – Heart Opening - Matsyasana


When we talk about friendship in yoga speak, we think of the heart chakra.  We know that yoga supports a healthy heart.  In life, however, hurts, betrayal and other emotional experiences block our hearts preventing us from experiencing additional hurt or pain.  This results in the heart chakra, one of the primary energy centers in the body, becoming closed or unbalanced.  When this happens, we may be challenged to allow love, compassion or grace in; physical ailments can also develop.  As we work through our physical and mental yoga and meditation practice, we strive to open our heart, balance the heart chakra and be receptive to love and human connections, friendships. 


In the spirit of opening our hearts, I suggest that our practice this week focus on some heart opening poses.  These can include many back bends like bridge, upward dog, reverse plank and my favorite, fish pose (which is a great counter pose to shoulder stand).





  • Lie on back legs long and slide your hands, palm down, under your buttocks.Inhale and push your forearms and elbows firmly into the floor, pressing your scapula into your back and lift your torso and head away away from the floor. 

  • Then release your head back onto the floor.  Depending on how high you arch and lift your chest, you will have either the back of the head or crown on the floor. Find what feels good.  Keep minimal amount weight in your head (using forearms) to avoid crunching in neck. 

  • Stretch legs out long keeping thighs active, toes can be pointed or more commonly press heels out.  Stay and breath for a few cycles. 

  • To come out, push down through your forearms to lift your head, lower the torso and head to the floor.  Bring knees to chest and breathe.


Meditation – On Friendships

 



Friendship takes work. Finding friends, nurturing friendships, scheduling face time, it all take a tremendous amount of work. But it’s worth it. If you put in the effort, you’ll see the rewards of positive friends who will make your life extraordinary.” – Maya Angelou

 



Hello Old Friend – Eric Clapton


Some say that this song is about meeting up with friends in the afterlife, but most sources say that there is no back story it is just about reconnecting with a good friend and greeting the dawn of a new day – inspired by a simple and everyday experience. In that vein, grab a friend, go to a yoga class, a walk, and stop from time to admire the beauty around you and acknowledge that joy that is friendship.


As I am strolling down the garden path,

I saw a flower glowing in the dark.

It looked so pretty and it was unique;

I had to bend down just to have a peek.


Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.

Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.


I saw you walking underneath the stars;

I couldn't stop 'cause I was in a car.

I'm sure the distance wouldn't be too far

If I got out and walked to where you are.


Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.

Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.


An old man passed me on the street today;

I thought I knew him but I couldn't say.

I stopped to think if I could place his frame.

When he tipped his hat I knew his name.


Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.

Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.


Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.

Hello old friend,

It's really good to see you once again.

This song was released in 1976 on Clapton’s album No Reason to Cry. While not one of his most famous songs, it made it to 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in October of 1976.

 

Enjoy the videos. As I have said before, I love the actual videos, not the recorded ones with pictures, despite the quality. One below is from 1977

and one is from 2013. I love them both.

 

1977 Live Old Grey Whistle Test

 

2013 Manchester Arena

 

 

Nurturing with Food – Bruschetta



One of the first recipes that Peter and I consistently made for our friends was this one for bruschetta. Probably 30 years ago he started making it and my friends would call for the recipe (Pat this means you!) So Peter wrote it up and it is still one of our consistent “go tos”. It always makes me think of my friends, how many times we have sat around tables enjoying good food, laughs and a few glasses of wine.



Enjoy!

See you on the mat, Namaste

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