I may have hit every yellow light on my way home from class today. I normally find myself at a solid cruise, but today the stop lights had a little message for me--slow down. Now, not every person would find that events such as repetitive yellow street lights as a signal from the Universe, but I never said anything about being normal.
I had just finished a great yoga session after a long hiatus, and was high on a new love interest and the prospect of getting back into my active regular practice. Turns out moderation is always the ticket and that as happy as I was to be back in the asana room and involved with a lovely man, I needed to put on the breaks. Over zealous energy in the yoga room leads to injury, and as the saying goes with love--fools rush in. I started to chew this thought over in my mind as I collected my new postures for our Challenge Pose and thought that Pincha Mayurasana (Forearm Balance) was a perfect posture for being patient, observant and allowing.
This inversion is beautiful, invigorating and addictive--just like a yoga practice or the prospect of love. Problem is, it takes time, effort, and awareness to properly achieve and honor the pose.
Oh yeah, just like our practice and love.
I've given 4 steps to building the base of our Challenge Pose. The first steps when done regularly will create the space needed to do the full inversion. Just remember that you always want to build a foundation first--something solid, authentic and reliable. Otherwise, the base gives out and we come tumbling down. Don't worry about setting a deadline for yourself. Just do your practice and commit to showing up daily, aiming true and trusting that all is in the right place.
I wish this for your practice, your pose, and for a bountiful, allowing, and true love in your life.
Build your base.
Begin on hands and knees. Place the forearms shoulder width and parallel to each other on the mat. Stack the shoulders over the elbows. Curl the right toes under and lift the knee cap up coming into a straight leg. Repeat with the left leg to come into Forearm Plank. Keep the gaze just forward of the fingertips. Push the elbows down into the ground to lift into the shoulders. Hug the upper outer edges of the arms in, extend the heart and keep the belly and legs active. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute then rest in Child's Pose.
Choose the proper tools.
Take a yoga strap and measure the lasso from shoulder head to shoulder head (where the bone goes into the socket). Slide the lasso around the arms just above the elbows to prevent splaying in the elbows and collapsing in the upper back. Take a yoga block the low wide way against the wall and place the inner crook of the thumbs and index fingers on the edges closest to you. Forearms are down on the floor and parallel. Curl the toes under, lift the knee caps and hips up to straighten the legs. If it is too painful to straighten the legs keep them slightly bend. If possible, walk the feet in toward the elbows, keeping the lift of the upper back and the shoulders remaining over the elbows. Hug the arms in as if you could loosen your strap. Take 8 breaths and drop to Child's Pose.
Lift the right leg up into the air like Standing Splits. Keep the inner thigh revolving back to help square the hips. Root into the elbows to draw up through the core and through the entire length of the leg. Reach the toes as if you were trying to grab something off of the ceiling. After 5 breaths, set the leg down and repeat on the second side. Rest in Child's Pose.
Show off your peacock feathers.
Repeat the second half of step 2. Take the leg up into a Standing Splits reach. Bend the bottom leg and take tiny hops up towards the pose. If this is not enough energy to get you all the way to the wall, use a bit more kick-off power. Remember to activate the lower leg the second it leaves the ground! This extra energy will help to pull it all the way up into the pose. Once the legs are at the wall try flexing the feet and dragging the heels up the wall to elongate the lower back. The tailbone should reach up towards the ceiling as the frontal ribs soften towards the spine to remove the 'banana' in the back. Continue to try to loosen the strap, keep the gaze slightly forward to prevent strain in the neck and breath freely. Take one leg away from the wall back to the ground and drop to the knees into Child's Pose.