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May 25 2024 Our Memorial Day Yoga Practice: Honoring All Who Serve Others

While the traditional Memorial Day, by definition, is “a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered”, I am suggesting that in our practice this week we may broaden that definition to honor those who serve others.


First and foremost, I always take a moment to honor my deceased father and father-in-law. My Dad served in the air force in Germany during the Korean Conflict and my father-in-law served in the navy.  I talk about my dad often; he was an outspoken activist most of his life – one who acted. He did the work, walked the walk, volunteered the hours, and marched (for civil rights, anti-nukes, in support of farm workers). While he would likely balk at this description, he embodied for me what being an American patriot means. Doing the right thing, standing up for what you believe in and putting in the time all to serve the better good of the community. Both of my parents instilled in me a commitment to giving back to the community and being a voice for others less fortunate. This is what inspired me to think about honoring others around us who also serve their communities and their country this weekend. People working in the soup kitchens or homeless shelters, volunteering for town government, sharing time with the elderly.   


As we gather on Memorial Day let us dedicate our practice to all of those around us who serve others.  As we take a pause, we can send peace and thanks to them all, thanking them for these selfless acts including and especially our deceased and currently active military personnel for all that they do.


Our Practice – Virabhadrasana 1 -Warrior One


I am invoking the Warrior pose this week. I am invoking it as a symbol of our own spiritual warrior fighting against everyday battles. Some of the battles are internal (ego, pride, distracted mind); we can also think of battles on this Memorial Day as those fights for goodness in the world, activism, volunteerism, kindness to others.


Warrior One pose is central to many of our yoga practices. It also can be very challenging, especially if we follow some of the traditional cues, including thinking that the back foot always needs to be flat on the floor and the hips should be perfectly square to the front of the room “like headlights”.


There are many schools of thought on this pose, Kripalu teaches this pose with the back heel lifted (we call it Crescent Warrior).   I like to cue widening the legs like train tracks versus a tight rope.  If the hip on the back leg is somewhat open, so be it, it likely is the way your body is made and will allow you to take the pose without injury.


Below are a couple of links to articles on this topic.  I often talk about why I do not like to transition from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2; there is an article that discusses this. Another elaborates on the discussion of hip squaring that we often chat about in class. Finally, I repeat one from Kripalu, which explains why they teach the lifted heel version there.


The benefits of the pose (done without injury) include:

·         Increased flexibility in the hips and shoulders

·         Core strengthening

·         Heart/chest opening – opening heart to the world!

·         Increased strength in legs, ankles and back.





Meditation – Honoring Those Who Serve Others


“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Gandhi


“Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger


“You have two hands: One to help yourself, the second to help others.” – Audrey Hepburn


Nurturing with Food – No Recipe


Memorial Day weekend normally finds me cooking up some delicious salad, my favorite food. Frankly, having been beaten down by covid over the past week I have lost my sense of taste and smell. Food is no fun today so I am completely uninspired. Here’s hoping for next week!


It’s Memorial Day, have a (veggie) hotdog!


See you on the mat



Julia Anne


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1 Comment

May 25

I did not see a yin class? I would be very interested...ty

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