October 8 2023-Indigenous People Day-Meditating on Unity-Virbhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose)-Banana M
Updated: Oct 9
I struggle when Columbus Day arrives. Not because I don’t love a Monday holiday, but because of the history. As children in the 60’s and 70’s, we were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered the country; how can someone discover a country already teaming with native residents? Not to mention that he landed in the Bahamas not north America. 🤣😂 The real issue is how his arrival to the new world affected Indigenous people. European settlers not only introduced new diseases to the Americas that wiped out scores of Indigenous people, but also brought warfare, colonization, enslavement, and torture. In recognition of this, many communities have stopped honoring Columbus on this day and instead choose to recognize indigenous people. I feel similarly about Rhode Island’s celebrating V-J Day. Instead of naming it Victory Day (a transparent name change that still, in my opinion, invokes war), why not call it World Peace Day? Isn’t that what this world needs?
Thinking about holidays that can cause division or celebrate one group’s domination over another, brings me back to thinking of practicing our yoga off the mat. As we approach Monday, October 9, let’s remember that yoga’s roots are as a spiritual road map, a moral code and a holistic health approach that came from the indigenous people of India. The fact that India had 80,000 tribes with many different belief systems and could still attract people across many faiths to the practice, exemplifies the definition of unity and living our yoga off the mat. Let’s take inspiration in that.
Below is an article from Yoga Journal where one yogi discusses how she honors Indigenous people in her practice.
Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
I love this pose; I always feel strong and grounded in it and it can feel empowering to me. I was reading about Crazy Horse, a warrior for good, as I was thinking about this topic. He was born in 1840 as a member of the Oglala Lakota on Rapid Creek about 40 miles northeast of Thunderhead Mt. (now Crazy Horse Mountain). He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight American settlers who were encroaching on the land of the Indigenous people and to preserve the traditional ways of life of the Lakota people. Crazy Horse responded by putting the needs of his people above his own and fought hard for them. We honor his legacy and all warriors for good when we practice this pose.
Start in tadasana (mountain pose) at the top of your mat and step back with your left foot about 3-4 feet behind your right. Right foot points forward to front of mat and your right heel is in line with your left instep. Left foot is turned out to the left maybe 90 degrees or whatever feels ok.
Raise arms parallel to floor out to the sides, palms down, hips are open to the long edge of mat, but gaze is forward out over the right middle finger. One long line from right fingertips back to left fingertips (my back arm has a tendency to droop down!)
Bend your right knee over the right ankle and shin is perpendicular to the floor. Guide your right knee towards your second and third toe (not dipping in toward big toe or to the left). Straighten back leg and press the outside edge of the left foot toward the ground.
Check in with your torso that weight is equally positioned/distributed between both legs – I tend to shift my weight forward, others shift back.
Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
Meditating - on Unity
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers; and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit); and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals; and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all, you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.” – Black Elk
Black Elk or Heȟáka Sápa aka Nicholas Black Elk Oglala Lakota, South Dakota (1863-1950)
Black Elk was a follower of Crazy Horse and an educator of many about his culture. For more about him
Nurturing with Food – Banana Muffins
When fall arrives I start to bake. Enjoy these banana muffins with a warming cup of chai!
See you on the mat!