Sunday, December 4, 2016

Birds-Eye View

The last time I went to Pikes Peak (not far from the place that I now call home), I had no intention of doing anything other than hiking and enjoying the scenery with my husband. Little did I know that I would have two experiences that changed how I feel about the world around me, both of which culminated with a feeling of awe and perspective that I greatly needed.

On top of Pikes Peak, the view was indeed breathtaking…and, being the yogini that I am, I wanted to capture the view with photos that included some of my asana practice (combining two of the things I love most: nature and yoga!). After I instructed my husband on proper angles and imagined the best fusion of asana and nature for the photos, my practice started to naturally flow…my inclination was to do “grounding” poses (perhaps to balance the altitude?). They felt great, and I felt my body “relax into” itself as I practiced triangle, side angle, pyramid, and of course, mountain pose (duh…how could I leave that one out?!)! As I took in the views, felt my lungs fill with air (as best I could, given the altitude!), and stopped to feel what my body was feeling, I felt overwhelmed with a sense of being small.  Here was this GORGEOUS view all around me, from a mountaintop on which I stood…and I felt humbled…small…like all of my little problems are just a speck in the scheme of life. I imagined this is what a “birds-eye view” of the world must be like.

Almost as soon as I had that shift in perspective, I noticed that a small crowd had begun to gather on a nearby ridge, just far back enough so as not to disturb me, but obviously watching me practice.  I am embarrassed to say that my ego took over almost instantly, and I thought of “impressive” asanas I could do to “entertain” this crowd!  Balance asanas are a particularly favorite category for me, so, amidst the “ooh’s” and “aah’s” of the crowd, I began a sequence of dancer, standing big-toe, tree, and crow (oh boy, did I regret that choice!).  After several attempts at this arm balance (challenging on an even surface, let alone on a boulder!), I “got” the pose…and then lost my balance, only to slide down the mountain several yards before I could catch myself and stop. While I wasn’t injured, but for some scrapes and bruises, I realized that my ego could have quite literally killed me! Now, whenever I see this photo, while I can appreciate the beauty of nature around me, all I can think is “Boy, did I EAT crow on that one!”

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In short, the point of my telling this story is that sometimes we feel that we are “in our heads” to the point that we need a good reality check (perhaps not falling down a mountain, but something more subtle!). It is during these moments that we need grounding poses to help us gain perspective in what might become troublesome situations. Here are my recommendations:

Tadasana (mountain)

Uttihita Parsvattonasana (extended side angle)

Prasarita Padottanasana (standing wide-leg forward fold)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog)

Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee)

Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold)

Savasana (relaxation / corpse)

 

For step-by-step instruction, including modifications, benefits, contraindications, and other therapeutic applications besides grounding, I recommend that you visit www.yogajournal.com.
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Debra Hennesy is the founder and owner of Feel Your Best, LLC, an organization that trains people to become instructors of yoga, Pilates, stress management, as well as yoga therapists.  Colorado is the location of her newest adventures, along with her husband and active 6-year-old son.

 

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