Friday, August 26, 2011

Inner Strength

Sometimes we can experience a lack of strength in some life situations. You feel like you couldn't manage a difficult job at work, you didn't feel you had the strength to help a friend in need, or it may be you just couldn't push that heavy weight at the gym this morning. What ever it is, sometimes we would like to feel stronger. Often, too, we look for strength from the outside....someone or something else is going to give us the strength that we need or desire. You go to your clergy person to seek guidance; you read about a new device or technology that will improve your memory; you try a new supplement that will give you more energy in the day. All of these are external ways to improve strength AND they can be very effective. One thing to remember, though, is that strength can come from within. YOU have the power and strength within YOU to achieve better direction, memory, or health. Believe in yourself and the power comes.

The pose for your home yoga practice is a modification of plank pose. You will do it on your forearms which brings more attention to your abdominal muscles. Often when we focus on core strength, we think of our abdominal muscles. A reminder that your core incorporates the entire trunk of your body. In yoga we often focus on the low back and abdominal muscles. This is one such pose.

Start by coming to your hands and knees on your yoga mat. Gently lower yourself so that you are on your forearms and on your toes. Create a strong straight line with the entire body. (If you need to, it's ok to lower your knees to the floor, but keep your core body engaged.) Be aware if your low back is sinking or if your rear is lifted to high in the air. Create a sturdy table-top-like posture. This will involve engaging your core muscles. Do so by titling your pelvis AND feel your belly button pull up to your spine. This will be easy to do when you focus on your exhales. When you release the breath, also feel the tilting of the pelvis and the navel pulling upward toward your spine. Here, you are engaging an abdominal lock so you can feel solid in your pose. Also, feel the forearms hug together as if you were a squeezing a ball between them. This is how you experience inner strength: hug toward your center.

I tell my students that when you hug/hold inward, you create more strength inside of you. Imagine a person climbing up a pole. The tighter they hold on, the longer they will remain on the pole and perhaps the higher they can climb. Once they loosen that grip, they fall. Holding this plank pose can be the same; be sure to feel a sensation of holding onto your mid-line - your spine. Hold this pose as long as you can. If you happen to have a timer, 30 seconds to 1 minute would be quite effective. Or take 10-20 breaths. Afterward, come to Child's Pose to relax the entire body. Here, remind yourself of the strength that you hold within you. You'll find that you can climb higher and reach all of your goals.


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