We have just moved through another Thanksgiving holiday. It is certainly a time to be grateful for all that we have in these challenging times. As you sat around the dinner table with family and friends, I hope you were able to take a few minutes to think about and speak aloud all that you are thankful for: health, family, a job, a home, good friends, etc. I also hope you took a moment to be grateful for YOURSELF.
As we give thanks, we talk about the people in our lives who have been our support, our rocks, our saviors. But don't forget about a VERY important person. That person is YOU. If you didn't get a chance to thank yourself, use this home yoga practice to be grateful for who you are.
Why would you thank yourself? You may be too humble and modest to admit this, but you are an important figure for many others. You take care for your children, people count on you at work, you made someone smile this morning, you gave a homeless person your spare change, you let someone go in front of you at the grocery store. These may be small measures, but you make a difference in many lives. Be thankful that you were able to be there for all those people. YOU took the time. YOU made the effort. YOU ARE special.
This is an interesting pose to do because it can represent many things. As a yoga pose, it involves balance, binding, focus, and core strength. When I think of the symbol of the Eagle, I think of some Native American traditions that view the Eagle as the seer of all things. As it soars overhead, it represents strength, endurance, and vision. The Eagle also represents the East and this direction symbolizes the renewal of life and rebirth. So, as you practice Eagle Pose, perhaps embrace the physical and metaphysical representations of this profound figure. Perhaps see yourself as the visionary, the holder of strength, and the catalyst for change and renewal.
Start by standing in Mountain Pose. Set your intention as you take a few deep Ujjayi breaths. Inhale and extend your arms overhead. As you exhale, lower you arms slowly and bring your right arm behind your left arm, crossing them at the elbows. Once crossed, lift your arms so your forearms are in front of your face. As best as you can, intertwine your arms; wrapping them up until your hands and fingers are also intertwined.
Now, lift your left leg and cross it over your right leg. Make sure to wrap them in a way so there is no space between the hamstring and thigh. Sit back a bit into a Chair-like Pose. You will now be balancing on one foot. If you're able, wrap your left foot around your standing leg. (If you are unable to do that, just let the foot hang to the side, or even place a big toe on the floor if you need more stability in this balancing posture.)
Hold onto this pose tightly. Squeeze the arms together tightly as well as your legs. Think of this as a way to embrace yourself: hug your very being and acknowledge all that you are. For more sensation in this pose, lift your elbows so your triceps are parallel with the floor. Further, push your elbows forward so that your back broadens. Yes, these movements add more sensation to the posture. Think of this as a way to deepen the connection to yourself.
Although your arms are in front of your eyes, gaze THROUGH your arms. Be the visionary that is able to see through/past obstacles. Practicing this pose also helps you to master focus and attention. After holding the pose for 10-15 breaths, release the bind and return to Mountain Pose. Repeat on the other side.
Remember, it is very important to acknowledge and pay homage to yourself. Be thankful for your gifts, strengths, and talents. You have been placed on this earth for a purpose. Live up to your truest potential and share those gifts with others. You'll find that those others will be coming up to YOU thanking YOU for being who you are.