INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH
INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH - September 2018
In arm balances we need to trust our hands or forearms to carry the weight of the body. These poses require our full attention, concentration, and at the same time require trust and faith. They require strategic thinking, patience (one many of us lack....) and willingness to learn from our mistakes in order to progress forward.
Many of us experience mental resistance when we turn upside down, whether for full inversions or for arm balances. This comes in the form of old stories and old fears that we have created to make ourselves more comfortable with, and what we call ; old limiting beliefs.
Many of us think in a right or wrong kind of a way. True or false. We find it hard to see the in-between path. That something can be both true and wrong at the same time. It always just depends on the lens through which one is looking. That what we might consider as contradicting truth, can co-exist simultaneously.
Such is often the case in many of the yoga Asanas, but even more so with arm balances. The most common stories are
'I cannot do this', 'I am not strong enough', 'I will smash my face', 'I will break my wrists', 'I will make a fool of myself'. These are just a few to name. In these poses, the face is indeed very close to the earth, and this can be intimidating for many of us. Another element is that the heart is higher than the head which can also be intimidating, especially for those of us who feel they need to be in control of life and everything that happens during our life, which, as we all know, is impossible.
Many different Asanas allow us to experience the heart over the head: Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, Padottanasana and more.
This allows us to become more comfortable allowing the heart to be in charge and override mental limitations, and as we progress on the path and in our practice, we take it to inversions and to arm balances, and that's where the fear tends to kick in. The trick is to do what you can! One step at a time. To stop playing the 'I cannot do this' story, or any story that has been playing in your mind for too long.
Remember, each pose has steps so start with what you can. This month we look at Crow pose, Bakasana. If all you can do is sit in Malasana, the squat, placing the hands on the floor, then do this. But then challenge yourself and ask yourself as honestly as you can, 'is this really my limit?', 'my edge,' or 'do I choose to stay in comfort out of fear?'. If you do then try to dig deep to find out what is it that you're really afraid of?
The pose in itself is in vain. As long as you are willing to try, and then to observe what comes up and the lessons there for you, then you are on the right path. Performing a pose just for the sake of the pose has no benefits, and one must be careful about this and not being caught up in pride.
So for this month, try to reflect on what 'limiting beliefs' you are carrying and are they still needed? Is there even one you can let go of?
Jump to Inspiration of the month:
Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives. We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about our selves and our self-identity.. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general. In any case, they sadly limit us.
- Changing minds. org
Crow Pose- Bakasana
Arm balance asanas in yoga can be challenging, but also a very rewarding part of any yoga practice. They are beneficial as strength builders, they promote great circulation and demand ultimate concentration of the mind. The legs play a key role in arm balances, because when used properly, they can help lift the body and take some of the weight off of the arms. Crow Pose also requires your arms to be strong enough to lift your whole body high. It is the perfect balance of holding on and letting go and encourages you to accept your fears and embrace the courage to fly.
Amazing full body workout
It strengthens your wrists, upper back and legs
Opens up the groin
Stretches the upper back
Helps decrease heart burn and acidity
Builds inner focus and concentration
Tones the abdominal organs
Strengthens the abdominal muscles
Contraindications for this pose, do not practice if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or are pregnant.
You can place a block toward the top of your mat and perch your tip toes on the wide side of it, keeping the knees wide to create some extra lift in your hips. Play with taking one foot of the ground, then the other. Shifting the weight forward and playing with balance. The full pose sometimes causes varying degrees of pain in the wrists. Instead of spreading the fingers on the floor, curl them slightly. This should take some of the pressure off the wrists.
1. Squat down from standing with your inner feet a few inches apart. If it isn't possible to keep your heels on the floor, support them on a thickly folded blanket. Separate your knees wider than your hips and lean the torso forward, between the inner thighs. Stretch your arms forward, then bend your elbows, place your hands on the floor and the backs of the upper arms against the shins.
2. Snuggle your inner thighs against the sides of your torso, and your shins into your armpits, and slide the upper arms down as low onto the shins as possible. Lift up onto the balls of your feet and lean forward even more, taking the weight of your torso onto the backs of the upper arms. In Bakasana you consciously attempt to contract your front torso and round your back completely. To help yourself do this, keep your tailbone as close to your heels as possible.
3. With an exhalation, lean forward even more onto the backs of your upper arms, to the point where the balls of your feet leave the floor. Now your torso and legs are balanced on the backs of your upper arms. As a beginner at this pose, you might want to stop here, perched securely on the bent arms.
4. But if you are ready to go further, squeeze the legs against the arms, press the inner hands firmly to the floor and (with an inhalation) straighten the elbows. Seen from the side the arms are angled slightly forward relative to the floor. The inner knees should be glued to the outer arms, high up near the armpits. Keep the head in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor, or lift the head slightly, without compressing the back of the neck, and look forward.
5. Stay in the pose anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute. To release, exhale and slowly lower your feet to the floor, back into a squat.
Kapalbhati Pranayama - Skull Shining Breathing Technique
Kapalabhati is a traditional internal cleansing technique and detoxifies all the systems in our body. And the obvious sign of a healthy body is a shining forehead which can be obtained with regular practice of this pranayama. A forehead that glows not just from the outside but also an intellect that becomes sharp and refined.
Kapalbhati Breath Instructions:
The guidance of a teacher is always recommended.
If you ever feel unwell or dizzy - stop the practice immediately.
These practices are to be done moderately and with much observation, as they are extremely powerful.
Come to a comfortable seated position, spine long.
Place your hands on your knees, palms up or down.
Take a deep breath in.
As you exhale, pull your stomach.
Pull your navel in back towards the spine.
Do as much as you comfortably can. You may keep your right hand on the stomach to feel the abdominal muscles contract. Pull the navel in.
As you relax the navel and abdomen, the breath flows into your lungs automatically.
Take 20 such breaths to complete one round of Kapal Bhati pranayama.
After completing the round, relax with your eyes closed and observe the sensations in your body.
Do two more rounds of Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama).
Benefits of Kapalbhati Breath
Effective in reducing weight by increasing the metabolic rate
Clears the nadis (subtle energy channels)
Stimulates abdominal organs and thus is extremely useful to those with diabetes
Improves blood circulation and adds radiance to the face
Improves digestive tract functioning, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
Results in a taut and trimmed down belly
Energizes the nervous system and rejuvenates brain cells
Calms and uplifts the mind
Avoid practicing this breathing technique if you have an artificial pacemaker or stents, backache due to slip disc, recently went through an abdominal surgery, or are suffering with epilepsy or hernia.
Women should not practice Skull Shining breathing technique (Kapal Bhati pranayama) during and shortly after pregnancy, as well as during menstruation as it involves vigorous abdominal squeezes.
People with hypertension and heart problems should practice this breathing techniqueunder a yoga expert's guidance.