Saturday, November 20, 2010
I had the pleasure of assisting an amazing yoga instructor during an intensive yoga retreat recently. Not only was it hard work holding the emotional and energetic space, but it was also humbling, to say the least. I walked away feeling so deeply connected to those I assisted during those 5 days. They opened themselves up and trusted in the process, trusted me, and trusted themselves. It was a display of honoring the authentic self.
In our many ways to practice honor (e.g. praying and singing in places of worship) that honor tends to move outward. We applaud the outstanding performance with a standing ovation. We say thank you to the kind person who opened the door for us and show appreciation for those who love us unconditionally. But what about ourselves? We must not forget to honor ourselves. That same praise, ovation, thanks, and appreciation should also be directed toward yourself.
In your home practice, you will do a simply seated forward fold as a symbol of bowing to yourself - and honoring of yourself.
Sit on the floor or yoga mat. If you need props like a blanket or block to help you to sit more comfortably, please use them. Sit with your legs extended out in front of you. (Your knees can remain slightly bent.) Inhale to extend your arms over head. This will also help to extend your spine. On your exhale bring your hands down to your knees. On your next inhale, lift and lengthen your spine. Feel as if you're sitting up against a wall to straighten your back. Exhale to hinge from your hips and slowly walk your hands down your legs. Guide yourself slowly and gently downward, repeating those last two steps several more times, until you are in a deep forward fold. Your forehead may or may not touch your knees. Either posture is correct. Adjust your pose as needed so there isn't too much strain on your back or neck. The main intention here is to focus your awareness inward.
Once you have found your deep forward fold, hold this position for at least 20 slow breaths. Spend time here thanking yourself. Send gratitude and appreciation to yourself. Another option for this exercise is to sit in Child's Pose. Sit on your heels with your knees bent, bring your forehead to the floor, and your arms extended out in front of you or along the side of your body. Take those same 20 breaths as a way to quiet the mind and appreciate all that you are.
Remember YOU are worthy of honor and praise.