Today I came home from a walk and errands and started upstairs to work on this blog. I stopped myself, realizing how beautiful the weather was, the day was truly a gift, breezy and sunny. I love to garden and, since taking on my new job at the bank combined with other commitments, have spent a fraction of the time I usually do in the garden beds. I got my tools and suddenly found myself immersed in major gardening like I have not done all year. I did various weeding and dead heading but suddenly found myself in an all-out clean up in our herb garden which has likely not been weeded all summer (one of those gray area gardens as to whose weeding responsibility it is).🤣😂 Frankly, what was left when I was done was some basil, parsley, and rosemary (the perennials were hacked way back) and not much else. Pete wondered where the bush of oregano went - I directed him to the woods (it is a perennial, it will be back). Three wheelbarrows full and much sweat later, I felt such a sense of joy from moving my body, being outdoors, observing nature; this too, certainly, is yoga!
I talk a lot about what, in my mind, yoga is. I remember when I started practicing, I thought yoga was all about stretching (in fact that is why I started to do it). As I learned more, and especially after my teacher training, I discovered that yoga is about yoking the mind, breath, and body. If yoga were just about stretching, there are any number of exercise regimes we could adopt. For me, what makes yoga so beautiful, is the mind and body connection. I try to bring a bit of that to every class I lead.
So while our physical yoga practice is definitely yoga, so many other things that we do in life combining movement and breath (joining the body, soul and mind) may bring about the calming, balance of a traditional practice. Perhaps hiking, swimming, crafting, or cooking also serve to bring us to that ultimate place of enlightenment, peace of mind, samahdi.
This week let’s think about yoga outside the yoga box (or off the mat), finding our practice in activities that have us moving, yoking our breath, our body and our mind and ultimately bring us joy.
Our Practice – Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Many activities that we do find us hunching over, this includes the aforementioned gardening as well as sitting at our desk. Poses that reverse that (upward facing dog, sphinx and cobra) help us stretch and strengthen and improve posture. Cobra can help relieve stiffness and tension in our back, improve circulation, elevate our mood and reduce fatigue.
Start in down dog and shift forward into plank, lowering down with chaturanga coming flat on the floor.
You are lying flat with your pubic bone, thighs and tops of your feet are pressing into the ground.
Slowly start to press down with your hands, straightening your arms as much as is comfortable, lifting your chest and opening your heart, lifting sternum upward.
Shoulders roll down your back.
(From here, I like to move into sphinx pose with forearms on the mat and hold that pose for couple of minutes.)
Meditation on the Present
As we take our practice off the mat, discovering yoga in new ways and joy in the simple, we can enjoy this lovely poem by RI based author and poet, Dave Ursillo.
Celebrate the little things. Precious moments. Small victories. A joyous chill down your spine; a smile you can’t stop with a frown.
Allow yourself to feel so bowled over, as if an angel has given you a shove, see the sight you’ve seen ten-thousand times before, today, so new, so unfamiliar, so Preciously Present.
That’s what makes life’s journey a miraculous string of happiness throughout the weeks and years.
A beautiful face you’ll never kiss. Dance with a stranger! Relish little moments of victory; of success; of smart work, well done.
Honor the now.
Celebrate the instance of total peace, looking out upon that most beautiful landscape — you know, friend, that scene the Mother painted with perfection; the one you’ll surely never forget.
Look around when all is right, and say it aloud: “All is right.”
Nurturing with Food - Ramen
This weekend is the Rhythm and Roots Festival in Charlestown. Code for Peter is gone all weekend (I go just on Sundays) and I am on my own for food. Add to this that our kitchen is under construction, found me at my favorite Thai restaurant after church Saturday night, ordering Ramen. Very good, not as good as Pete’s, recipe below. Can be modified to be vegan. I hope to have some of this (made by him) next week!
See you on the mat,