I’ve made some delicious foods in my day, but to me, nothing is more delicious than yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga longer than I’ve been baking and cooking, which is easy to forget, especially with a cooking job and two food blogs! Yoga is as integral to my life as teaching, cooking, and growing- and I hope to make yoga a significant component of Vibrant Wellness Journal.
I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 12 years, starting at the young age of 21, upon moving to Hawaii. Though my body always loves a good yoga class (and my brain surely appreciates the downtime), but sometimes yoga practice takes a back seat in my life. Sometimes I work too much. Other times I get into a surfing phases, frugal phases, boyfriend phases, sometimes I just want to cook and write and read and not practice. But there is a profound connection with yoga that persists. When I do make time for yoga- settling onto the mat, warming my body with asana- it’s like coming back to where I need to be, and it’s like I never left. I find myself smiling throughout my practice often, because I am so joyful to be moving my body into the poses, meditating on the motion/stillness, and focusing on the breath. I am (mostly) able to tune out the noise of work, cooking, cleaning, and other tasks on my to-do list; I can calm myself and focus on the stillness inside. I can open the channels in my body to release tension and stress, and release emotions that are trapped. And I can just be.
One of my favorite poses to really ground myself in the moment and release a huge amount of tension is pigeon pose, also known as eka pada Rajakapotasana. Many of us keep tension in our hips, and this is one of the best ways to release it; it also opens the back and shoulders, and depending on where it really ‘feels’ for you, it could also open up your your thighs and your feet. This pose has many variations, and has many ways of becoming available to you, whether you are ‘flexible’ or not. For great descriptions of this pose, see Yoga Flavored Life, and of course, Yoga Journal. The first photo (from here) shows one of the first phases of pigeon. You can also gently lay forward (sleeping pigeon), leading with your heart, until your head in on the mat (or a pillow). This relaxes the back but will continue to open the hips.
Full pigeon pose, shown in this second photo (from here), is one of those poses that I am likely never to attain. My body is not comfortable in this pose; even when my practice was very strong this pose was seriously impossible for me. I do like the modified version; simply grab your ankle and look behind, beginning the stretch but not completing the full pose. You can also use a strap to make this pose more accessible.
How does yoga fit into YOUR healthy lifestyle?
Image Credit: Dolphin Pose from Yoga Journal.