As we head into Independence Day (which for me always feels like the kickoff to summer) I am thinking about it in Yoga terms. Most of us head to barbeques, ignite things (fire pits, fireworks) and eat highly processed foods (hot dogs?). I must admit, when I ate meat, I loved a hot dog on the grill (blackened beyond recognition). I think it is because I love mustard and relish; veggie dogs, also
blackened, hit the spot!
In Sanskrit, the word for freedom is Moksha which translates as liberation from the mind and the beliefs held in it. It refers to consciousness of, and connections to, all existence. We can use words like joy, peace, and bliss to describe such freedom.
Perhaps celebrate this Independence Day by freeing your mind of expectations for the holiday. Free your mind from frustration with the traffic, the inability to grab something quickly at the grocery store/bakery/coffee shop because of the lines. Think about what activities help you find connections, free your mind. Celebrate with family and friends and enjoy that (Veggie) Hot Dog!
Our Practice – Invoking Freedom
I think we all have poses that help us feel free. Free from stress, from pain, or perhaps distract us or take such concentration that all that we can do is concentrate on the breath and pose. As one who has managed back pain my whole life, supine twist is a truly freeing pose. I love the way it makes me feel, relaxed and safe, and it frees me from tightness and pain in the low back.
The postures benefits include releasing the lower back, opening tight shoulders, elongates spinal muscles, improves digestion and quiets the mind.
For more on how to do the pose, variations and its benefits, see the link below from Yin Yoga.
I posted this video on YouTube last year, it is a twisting practice for spinal care-lots of supine twisting!
Meditation on Freedom – Freedom in our Minds – Freedom for All
As we celebrate freedom let us contemplate what is happening around us. We are seeing freedoms that our parents fought for diminish, and further polarization in our great country. Looking inward, we may find that our own life habits are constraining us from freeing our mind to be conscious and connected to our existence. I invite you to spend a few moments contemplating freedom and what it means to us.
Redemption Song – Bob Marley
Old pirates, yes, they rob I Sold I to the merchant ships Minutes after they took I From the bottomless pit But my hand was made strong By the hand of the Almighty We forward in this generation Triumphantly Won't you help to sing These songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have Redemption songs Redemption songs Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery None but ourselves can free our minds Have no fear for atomic energy 'Cause none of them can stop the time How long shall they kill our prophets While we stand aside and look? Ooh! Some say it's just a part of it We've got to fulfill the book Won't you help to sing These songs of freedom? 'Cause all I ever have Redemption songs Redemption songs
The above song by Bob Marley was written in 1979 and was the final track on Bob Marley and the Wailers 12th album. He was sick at the time with the cancer that ultimately took his life less than 2 years later. Unlike most of his other songs it is solely an acoustic recording without accompaniment. He refers to slavery and the challenges to overcome that legacy with the help of his God but also refers to freeing one’s mind from mental slavery. The link below showcases him performing it with guitarist Earl “Way” Lindo live on Jamaica TV in 1980.
Nurturing with Food – Strawberry Smoothie
I am not sure this is really a recipe, more like a suggestion of what to do with the last of your beautiful June strawberries that are on their last legs and headed for your compost bin. I had about a cup of them, and as I was about to pitch them, I put them instead into the blender with a cup of coconut plain yogurt and 4-5 ice cubes. If I had frozen the berries, I would have skipped the cubes. Blended, it was a simple but delicious smoothie. If you like it a bit sweeter, use vanilla yogurt or add some agave or honey.
It was quintessential summer!
Wishing you a joyful independence day, free from stress.
See you on the mat!