Saturday, January 6, 2018

A flow for the New Year!

Happy New Year!

Transitions...hmm. Change can be tough, right? What do we do in the transition of change? Do we rush through just to get to the next thing? Perhaps we don't even notice we are in a transition until we find ourselves in something new. The 2017 schedule of holidays gave us two distinct weekends of celebration. What happened in the days between the holiday celebrations of 2017 and ringing in the New Year?

In life, so many times I find myself rushing from thing to thing. Out in the "real world," this seems to be the way of things. From thing to thing to thing.

Is this what I inspire to instill in my children? My students? I'm not sure.

This year, instead of resolving to do more, I propose an alternate idea: perhaps more happiness can be found in doing less. Taking more time to enjoy the transitions in life...the space between familiar and unfamiliar, comfort and challenge. In my yoga practice, I am thinking particularly of the transition between asanas (poses). Noticing the movement between poses and intentionally breathing more deeply, taking a pause to notice the feeling between the comfort obtained in holding a pose and the challenge of adjusting my body into a new one.

The following sequence emphasizes transitions. Give it a go on your mat at home...and enjoy!

Taking time to pause, breathe, and ring in the New Year with new found peace and tranquility, I wish you the same...a new year of peace and calm and ease in transitions.

Honoring the light in all,


A Short Asana Flow for the New Year:

Begin in child's pose:

Stretch arms long, toward the top of the mat and settle in with knees wide. Breathe deeply and feel the ribs press against the inside of the thighs with each deep breath. Intentionally noticing the depth of the breath on the inhale and the full release of the exhale, begin to set the mind on track for today's practice.
1-First deep breath: let go of expectation for today's asana practice. Move mindfully and be open to what your body has to tell you today.
2-Second deep breath: let go of feelings of competition. Today is not about striving or pushing. Be an observer today. Notice what feels good. What opens up. What doesn't open up. Where you experience tension. Try not to compete with yesterday's practice or tomorrow's practice. Be here, present, on your mat in your body. Today's body.
3-Third deep breath: let go of judgement. Be kind in your mind chatter toward yourself. Be your own cheerleader today. This practice, the practice of life, is about experiences. Allow yourself space to experience your practice today...really experience it. One. Asana. At. A. Time.

Move into a gentle flow between the following three poses. Move slowly and notice what the body is telling you between poses. What feels tight? What needs a little TLC today?
1-Inhale to Plank Pose
2-Exhale to Downward Facing Dog
3-Inhale back to Plank Pose
4-Exhale to Child's Pose
Repeat 3 to 5 times or as many times as you need to. Take it S-L-O-W. If you find your mind starting to wander, or your body starting to speed up, return to the breath; transitioning to each pose through the fullness of your breath. One breath = one asana (pose).
(Note: the base of these three poses is the same. Hand/foot position for plank is the same hand/foot position for DD).

Pause in downward facing dog for the next three breaths.
1-Inhale and exhale. Reflect on your intention today to take time to pause (or set any intention that fits you for today). Take time to listen to your body. Perhaps bend the knees and allow a longer stretch in the back.
2-Inhale and exhale. Allow tension, stress and anxiety from 2017 roll down your back, down your arms, and off of your mat.
3-Inhale and exhale. Ease into one last breath in DD. Push energy into your hands and feet, pressing the body just a little deeper toward your legs in a deep upside-down V. Ease into this new year, open-hearted toward new experiences.

Exhaling, bend the knees to the floor into an "all-fours" position and flow with Cat/Cow poses.
Inhale gaze and tailbone toward the sky.
Exhale, rounding the spine upward, spreading the shoulder blades wide.
Repeat 3-5 times breathing deeply.

On the next exhale, shift weight to the right knee.
Inhaling, lift the right heel toward the sky, keeping the knee bent at 90 degrees.
Exhaling, crunch the knee toward the nose.
Repeat 3-5 times.

Then, exhaling, draw the left leg all the way up to hands so legs form a lunge.
Inhaling, stretch hands toward sky.
Exhaling, frame feet with both hands.
Inhaling, take the left hand to the left knee (keeping right hand planted on the ground) into a twisting lunge. Stay and breathe here for 3-5 breaths. Extend body long with each inhale and twist a little deeper with each exhale.
Exhaling, release both hand to the floor and push back to downward-facing dog.
Return to cat/cow (above) and then repeat on the other side.

From DD, return to child's pose. Breathe. For a deeper hip stretch, take knees wide. For a more traditional approach, keep knees together and round over the legs. If the forehead is unable to rest easily on the floor, then use a prop or stack fists to support your head.
Pause in Child's Pose and set your mind in a positive manner for bringing this year's hopes, goals and visions into reality. Visualize yourself succeeding in abundance. You already have the tools and talents to do many things. Breathe. Trust that your life path will unfold fruitfully as you transition into this new year.

When you are ready, look back toward your hands. Bring your body back into plank poster and transition to downward-facing dog. In DD, play a little. Pause and notice what has already, in this short practice, started to warm and open. Notice also where is there still tension or tightness and send kind, loving energy to the places you feel tightness.

From Downward-Facing-Dog:
Inhaling, look up toward your hands. Bending the knees a lot, bring feet to hands.
Exhale and fold deeply, allowing head to hang heavy off of shoulders. Grounding through the balls of the feet, the pinky-toe side and the heel of the foot, begin to roll slowly up toward standing, stacking bone-over-bone.
Inhale, hands to the sky stretching long.
Exhale, hands to heart center. Grounded. Steady. Strong. Ready to accept what happens across your life path in this new year. Go with confidence! Let your light shine bright!