Challenge Pose: Fallen Angel

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KATHRYN BUDIG fallen ANGEL, devaduuta panna asana

"Get bored with your past, it's over!" - Caroline Myss

These words flew into my inbox this morning via the amazing company, The Daily Love. Run by founder Mastin Kipp, this daily email drops tiny jewels of inspiration into your life to get your brain turning and your heart open. Some quotes make me smile, some are too long and I admit to major A.D.D., and then there are some that resonate all the way down my spine and into the soles of my TOMS.

Your past is over. Seriously--time to move on.

I've had an incredibly draining summer full of health hiccups, emotional roller coasters, and ghosts of relationships past haunting my hallways. Being a fan of the supernatural, I let myself stay up late with these ghosts--reminiscing, longing, and ultimately draining myself. I finally woke up one morning so depleted I knew a physical change was in order or I'd become a ghost myself. I absolutely needed an emotional shift of perspective and attitude if I was going to pull through. So I did. I took a deep, full swing of the bat and set the past whizzing out the park to slowly bask in my lap around the bases back to my home base: my soul and who I really am.

Fast forward not much more than a few weeks and my physically body is healing, my laughter has been restored and the past is exactly where is should be--left in the dust of my victory home run trot.

As I've returned to my asana practice, I found myself deeply connected with Fallen Angel. Aside from the aesthetic beauty of the pose, I love the story telling that dances around the posture. It embodies what it must be like to fall from grace, to hit the ground hard, but remember once you've hit rock bottom that there is no such thing as falling from grace because no one can ever take it away from you. It is our birthright and our duty to maintain it and keep our inner grace shining. This posture presents a huge physical challenge as well as emotional. Practice keeping your grace regardless of your circumstances, keeping yourself in a place of allowing, and remembering that the past is behind you and the present is full of opportunity. So enjoy this fall, knowing that the lift and grace always come from within.

3 Steps to Fallen Angel

Step One: Start Small, Like a Cherub 

Begin standing with the big toes and inner heels touching. Bend the knees drawing the weight into the heels keeping toe toes light and fluffy. Sink the hips down into Utkatasana (Chair Pose) making sure you can still see the tips of your toes when you gaze down past your knee caps. Join the hands at your heart in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal). Revolve from your upper chest and twist to land the left elbow onto or to the outside of the right thigh. If this is plenty, breathe here pushing the palms together to point the right elbow up toward the ceiling. If there is wiggle space, keep working the armpit towards the thigh to deepen the twist. Extend the heart away from the navel and lean your upper chest back. Rotate your neck, releasing through the base to gaze toward the ceiling--feel free to gaze down if it bothers the neck. Take eight breaths. Press back to Chair Pose for one breath and switch sides.

Step Two: Fluff Your Wings

Similar to step one, bring the feet together and come down into a full squat on the balls of the feet--knees and big toes touching, bottom landing lightly on the heels. Inhale, lift up into the heart, exhale reach the left elbow to the right thigh to twist. Just like step one, work the arm deeper trying to get the armpit closer to the thigh. Place both hands onto the ground shoulder width apart, fingertips pointing away from the right thigh. Bend the elbows toward a 90 degree angle as the feet sweep back. Bring your elbows directly over the wrists and sweep the shinbones up parallel to the ground. Keep the inner thighs squeezing, the inner elbows hugging in as if you were trying to hold something and gaze gently forward.

From Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow), turn your gaze toward your bent knees. Lightly place the temple of the face onto the ground. Careful to not smush. Feel as though you are listening for vibrations through the ground. The right shoulder will descend toward the ground, but it will not actually touch the mat. 

Step 3: Fall With Grace

Now, take a moment to imagine you were just up in the heavens when you lost your balance on a fluffy cloud. You've plunged head first toward the ground, but your wings are still reaching toward the sky where you were just enjoying your day. Keep this in mind as you hinge the hips and reach the left leg straight up towards the sky. Give the left leg so much energy it feels as though you could grab something from the sky in-between your toes. The bottom foot, or right foot will rotate up toward the sky as well but keep the knee bent. Keep hinging until both toes are pointing up toward the clouds, but you are resting lightly on the side of your face. Take eight breaths and if possible, re-stack the knees into Side Crow. Perhaps take a breath to pull back up into your arm balance, or simply place the feet back onto the ground and come into Balasana (Child's Pose).

Kathryn Budig is a Yogi, Yoga Teacher, Writer, Philanthropist, HuffPo, Elephant Journal, MindBodyGreen + YJ blogger, Foodie and lover of her dog. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.