Paschimottanasa – the Grand Poobah of forward bends. 

(It’s a very, very powerful posture)

Paschimottanasana is a seated forward bend with legs extended straight in front of you.  It’s best if your knees point towards the ceiling so the feet  are neither rocked in nor rocked out.  If you find that you can hardly fold at all – don’t be discouraged.  It’s very common – it’s just no one gets their picture taken if they aren’t touching their toes yet!!  Some find it helpful to bend the knees and rest the chest on the thighs.  You can also sit on the front edge of a folded blanket.

Either your standing forward bends will be easier – or your seated forward bend will be easier.  It reflects certain anatomical tensions in the neck and hips.  If the seated forward bend is stubborn and unchanging, I suggest you work a variety of  standing forward bends first to warm up for paschimottanasana.  The folklore is that  paschimottanasana is about “letting go”  whatever that means.  Let go of what?    I could write a thesis on that…but generally it meant I needed to soften my edges, releasing the fixed ideas that I had about how the world should work.  It involved letting others win disagreements, accepting discomfort, allowing change and opening to possibilities and opportunities in my life that I never would have considered.  It was about choosing ease.  For you it might mean letting go of fear and charging forward by being more active – engaging your thighs or activating your bicep muscles to pull you closer to your toes.  It’s always good to try do so the thing that doesn’t come naturally in the moment.  I feel lazy…activating my thighs (or some other part of my anatomy) may be just thing.  If I’m struggling, then more ease is called for.

The bladder meridian runs down the entire back of the body, so being balanced with water will help as well.  That might mean more water, but it also might mean less water – it’s about balance.

Experimentation is helpful here.  That is a great thing about our yoga postures – they give us data about ourselves that we can use to refine our lives. 

Most of all, like all things yoga, forward bend requires practice -so even if you don’t like it…keep practicing!!

Destination Sovereignty: Ready, Set Action!

Action Plan, Timeline, Quality Assurance

If you’ve been following the yoga posts on my blog, you know that I often refer to an understanding of yoga through which we become aligned with our true nature, which is composed of divine qualities.  I think it’s important to understand that while yoga, like many spiritual systems,  can subtly slide into putting forth dogma, in my opinion, it’s not intended to be that way, even  if, maybe especially if we follow the formulas outlined in the sacred texts.  In that vein, the “divine qualities” or true nature referred to in the texts would be the highest expression of a particular quality as opposed to a reflection of moral purity.     When we begin to speak of taking actions on our dreams and visions, my experience is that it works best when coupled with an understanding of myself becoming the person who would take those action, and in order to do that, I often need to nurture my expression of particular flavors of qualities.  This week as we begin to translate our dreams into action plans  I suggest that we incorporate into our action plans and timelines the inner qualities which support our ability to draw forth that which we are creating. 

Say, for example that we want to draw in a new romantic relationship.  There are many flavors that such a relationship could manifest in.  At some times in our lives we might want passion and adventure.  At other times in our lives, sweetness and harmony.  The thing is, if I want a passionate adventurous relationship, I better be brining some passion and adventure into the relationship as well.  If I want stability, I better bring some of that in as well. If I want sweetness and harmony I better bring some of that to the table as well.  So what I do  is, I add those qualities to my action plans.  At the top of my daily action plan, I consider the actions that I plan to take, and I list the necessary qualities at the top.  If it’s a relational day, I put kindness and graciousness.  If it’s an administrative day, I put effectiveness at the top of the list and if it’s a day of teamwork, I might start my action plan with an intention to embody  collaboration.

Because co-creation is part of a yogic lifestyle, I try to express the qualities in terms of that which would be in alignment with the beautiful qualities which we all share.  So, if my vision is to become World Tennis Champion, while my first instinct is to conquer or defeat my competitors, as I reflect  on the yogic foundation, I know that will move me away from a state of yoga.  It creates division.  Instead I might say “Personal Best in very single match I play this year. “  Think about this in terms of sustainability.  I could become the World Champion through an accidental tennis blooper of some kind.  But my personal best will transform me into a champion as a person, and then I’ll have something lasting.  What’s my action then?  Practice every day, study the moves of the masters, 5 minutes a day envisioning my perfect serve and my competitor shaking my hand with glee because it was so much fun to for them to play against the highly skilled player I’d become.  I mean really, what could be a better victory than one where your opponent concedes that you played the best game!!!

The timelines to envision, are pretty classic, 10 years,5 years, 3 years, 1 year, 3 mos. 1 mos. I week, 1 day might be a general guideline. Of course you aren’t going to do all of them every day or month or even quarter – that kind of rigidity might create restriction rather than expansion.  But checking in at systematic intervals keeps the vision grounded.  One of the things I’ve learned is that magnificent visions can emerge , powerfully from tiny steps taken in alignment.  I was on a whole other career path when I discovered yoga, and I never intended to leave that path for yoga.  But I found myself spending a lot of time on my yoga mat, loving what I was doing and just wanting to do more of it.  It all emerged from there.  The other career which I charged through and sweated around, never amounted to much of anything, either internally or externally, a paycheck and some transient glimmers of accomplishment.  But the yoga became a rich and transformative life path for me.  When we are aligned with our deepest selves our thoughts visions and dreams become powerful, and it allows for a more organic unfolding, with minimal struggle. 

Action steps?

Similar to the manifestation, actions steps and time lines involve sitting and writing.  How do I envision this ten years, five years etc.  And know that my success in the ten year plan is going to be connected to my success in the one day plan and will be supported by my steadiness in my yoga practice. Some days moving off the action plan is the action plan!  Yoga develops our discernment to detect if our inspirations are divinely guided detours or laziness and fear.  If you haven’t yet started practicing yoga, you can begin just by sitting and breathing easily for 5 minutes with your eyes closed. Or you can come to take one of my classes!

Perhaps I will see you on Saturday when we will gather to review the process of co-creating and share the visions we’ve been nurturing the last few weeks.  Sharing the vision can be a powerful means of energizing our visions, and allows us to cheer each other on!  Pay what you are able and feel comfortable with. 

Please register at the link below

Register in advance for this meeting:

Destination Sovereignty: Co-creating your next step, Pt. 3 – the vision board

I was newly divorced and starting a new life in a new town.  I’d set my sights on aligning myself more deeply with my heart’s desires, and that meant I was reading new age magazines and trying out all sorts of new and different ideas and lifestyle choices.  One night I was leafing through an issue of the New Life magazine when I spied a picture of this man and I thought, “He is going to be my next boyfriend.”  I laughed at myself and shelved the magazine and that funny thought. 

A month or two later on Memorial Day, I walked 2 miles from my house to the home of a woman who hosted the our local coop.  It was pretty hot outside.  I lived and worked in the New York City area, so I had no car.  At the food coop, I was offered a ride home by a women I met there.  As we chatted in the car I kept getting this nagging feeling that I should ask her about the fellow in the magazine. I finally did.  It turned out, she had known him a long time, and was very fond of him.  She had nothing but the kindest things to say about him.  I was wondering if I should take his class, and so I did.  And indeed he turned out to be my next boyfriend.  The woman who knew him actually became a more important figure in my life than he was, becoming to me a student and then a friend and then a neighbor and  then a teacher.  One day when we were first neighbors she invited me to a two days sales conference she was going to.  I went.  The man leading the program told us a story about a woman who cut out a picture of a guy from a magazine and then ended up marrying that very guy!!  This is not to promote magical thinking, but it illustrates an important idea for us to consider.  We are swimming in possibilities all the time, and on some level we are aware of them.  The co-creative process is one in which we can draw down those possibilities and playful plop them into out lives and see how they fit. 

Now, lots of things can interfere with that process.  Fear, obligations, fear, doubt, fear, fickleness and so on.  That’s not to say that we are in some way flawed if we don’t create apparent successes.  It’s always successful on some level if we think in terms of the yogic pathway, because it’s a mode of coming to know who we are, really, in a rich and abundant way.    But I like a story I heard once about Paul McCartney. When asked where he got his songs from, he responded that “You just reach out and pick one.”  This aspect of co-creation really shines forth when we begin the process of a vision board.  While a very strategic vision board is possible, most people I know just reach out and pick what they want from the world around them. It adds a lighthearted energy to the process of creation.

Give yourself some time with this one.  You can do it however you want, painting, collage, etch-a-sketch, whatever gets you thinking and dreaming.  I usually cut pictures out of magazines and mail and wherever, all year round so I have them to draw on when I’m ready to start my collage.  I never finish it in one day.  A big part of it is allowing the intuition to flow around what belongs and what doesn’t.  Part of the reason I started saving images all year was that sometimes I would really really like something, but, I didn’t want it now.  So, I would tuck image into the collage drawer for next time.  The flip side of that was allowing myself to put images on the vision board that I really didn’t see happening in my life, but that I really liked or loved.  It’s been interesting how the items have shown up in my life.  For years I put a little round image that said “I am loved” on my vision board.  It kept showing up in my life, and I kept putting it on  my vision board. Last week my new employer walked into the office with an “I am loved button” on his hat.  That wasn’t quite what I’d envisioned but on reflection I realized that I truly was living in a deeper state of love, generally, than I was a few years ago.  Seeing it on his hat just provided the opportunity to reflect on that.

So how do we approach the vision board itself?  Basically it’s just a 2 or 3 dimensional vision of what you want in your life and it can be whatever you want….words, pictures, drawings, sculpture.  Have fun with it.  I’ve known people who do whole notebooks of vision collages. These days I do five different sections and then piece them together in one collage, like a quilt. One section each for each aspect of my life., financial, relationship, health, creativity, wisdom, travel and helpful friends, prosperity.   This year as I worked my vision boards it was harder to separate everything out into those categories, they overlapped a lot. I’ve spent much of my year in my studio apartment during the shelter-in-place, so indeed, the separate facets of my life are all merged together. And that is just to say that, as with yoga, as with healing and personal growth, that honoring the process is part of the process. 

I like to be resourceful with my boards, using whatever is around.  Junk mail, flyers, card board from the backs of tablets, paper bags.  I like to create a life creating, pulling things together, versus having them drop out of the sky, so, my process reflects the process as I enjoy living it.  I generally do not try to re-create what I’ve put on my goals or list on my board.  I love  to see how the words and the images merge together in the lived experience of my life in a variety of ways.

Oh, and , as always this works well when coupled with some form of awareness practice like meditation, chanting or yoga, and is, in itself an awareness practice.

If you like, you can come share your vision board with us on the December 26th, 4 PM Pacific Time on Zoom.  Pay what you are able to and comfortable with.

Register in advance for this meeting:

We look forward to visioning with you! 

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