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June 18, 2023-Finding Energy-Utkatasana (Thunderbolt Pose)-Hot and Sour Soup

I was looking for inspiration for this week’s blog and came across some thoughts I had jotted down but never finished. I was thinking about days when our energy flags and we feel out of sorts. II must have been musing on that during the time I was rehabilitating from my hip surgery and was wondering how I would ever be able to work a full day or do all the other things I like to do. I was feeling exhausted and a bit depressed. As it rained and rained Saturday, I contemplated getting under my covers and napping, I was feeling blah and lacked energy, and was a little blue. Midday I saw a break in the rain, the sun was trying to come out and I talked myself into going for a walk. By the time I got to the preserve I wanted to walk in, it was raining again. I decided that unlike the wicked witch of the west, I would not melt, and I set off. The trees provided cover. With my phone turned off and, in my pocket, I noticed how beautiful the mountain laurel looked with the rain drops glistening on its leaves and how the darker forest was just so green and set off the beautiful red cardinal that flitted among the trees. As I was nearing what I figured must be about 3-miles, I decided not to push my luck; a few moments later, the sky opened, and it began to torrentially pour! Despite now being really wet, as I sat in the car, I noticed how much better I felt, at peace from the solitary, beautiful walk, and much more energetic. I felt the same way today as I did when I started this blog in early December that, “each time I get moving I feel a surge of gladness and wellbeing”. This too is yoga.

What I also found incredible is that back in December I wrote, “I pledge that when I get back to work, I will keep my sneakers in the car and sneak those extra walks in throughout the day”. That was something I have not done in years and still had not done until just this past Thursday! I felt that thrill of random coincidence as I read the original blog – some special force was at work.

There are lots of studies that show how walking is great exercise, I just love the information about the mental health benefits as well.

Articles point to the health benefits as well as the mental health benefits below.

Our Practice – Utkatasana – Thunderbolt Pose

Speaking of walking in the rain, I did hear plenty of thunder as I was moseying through the woods yesterday. I rationalized that it sounded kind of far away. Made me think of our favorite pose, thunderbolt (aka fierce pose or chair pose-like no chair I have ever sat in). 🤣😂

What are the benefits of this challenging pose? Thunderbolt pose (also known as fierce pose and chair pose) strengthens the muscles in your thighs and feet; increases ankle mobility; tones your core muscles. So, how can we get the most out of the pose without saying bad words in our head? For me, the most important thing to do is breathe. I know I say this a lot, but I tend to hold my breath in the most challenging poses which makes it that much more difficult. Every time I bring my awareness back to my breath it is like a revelation (clearly, I am very forgetful). ☹️

  • Start in tadasana (mountain pose)-check in that you have weight equally distributed through all four corners of your feet weight evenly distributed between both legs.

  • Exhale as you bend your knees, press your buttocks back imagining you are seated on a chair. Check in that knees are in line with each other.

  • Raise your arms overhead, with your palms facing each other. If that does not feel good in your shoulders, try widening them or use cactus arms.

  • Most important is to take good breaths, lengthen the spine, relax. While this can be very intense, the focused breathing really helps.

  • As you sink deeper be sure that you can see your toes, if you cannot, shift weight back a bit into your heels and maybe come back up a bit.

My favorite way to come out of the pose is to forward fold.

Meditation – Finding Your Energy

As we find our yoga off the mat, perhaps we find renewed energy in our practice and in nature.

Follow your nature. The practice is really about uncovering your own pose; we have great respect for our teachers, but unless we can uncover our own pose in the moment, it’s not practice — it’s mimicry. Rest deeply in Savasana every day. Always enter that pratyahara (withdrawn state) every day. And just enjoy yourself. For many years I mistook discipline as ambition. Now I believe it to be more about consistency. Do get on the mat. Practice and life are not that different. – Judith Hanson Lasatar

Do not be afraid to open yourself up to the world. Have adventures in your own town. Explore new places. Say hi to someone you want to talk to. Ask more people how they are really doing. Take the time to listen. Set down your phone. Climb the mountain. Write the book. Wake up early to watch the sunrise. Go out into nature and breathe deeply. Do the things you are afraid to do because when you open yourself up to the world, it opens itself up to you. – Nikki Banas

Nurturing with Food – Hot and Sour Soup

Sometimes you need something spicy to pep you up, energize you. One of my favorites, summer or winter, is hot and sour soup. I like mine on the spicy side but you can adjust the recipe to your liking. It is hard to find vegetarian versions of this soup at your favorite Chinese restaurant; this is easy to make and can satisfy that craving without the pork bits floating by!

See you on the mat!


Julia Anne

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