Tag Archives: gratitude

Make it or Break it: A Look at Injury and Yoga

Just about 10 days ago now I broke my big toe by dropping the patio umbrella stand on my foot.  This all happened just an hour after failing my UK driving test.  Now sometimes you have to really look for the lesson in it all.  But this occasion was starting to feel like a life lesson practical joke.  And in fact, I found myself transitioned from crying over my failed driving test (yes, I am 30 and have had a US license for 14 years) to laughing like a mad person holding a foot wrapped in a  reddening tea towel. In such a short span I went from my bustling little life, to one immobilized.

“Slow down already and get back in the moment”. This was the obvious lesson I was gleaning from the events.  I couldn’t drive, cycle, walk, run, anything!  I could just barely hobble to the bus after a week.  And healing can be an exhausting experience!  My body seemed to be sending all it’s life force to my foot to gently “gum” the bones back together as the doctor claimed would happen.

Another lesson, “Don’t take your healthy, fit body for granted”. Yoga with a broken toe is difficult.  And I know there are far worse injuries and ailments to have. Luckily I love to be upside down and could practice headstand for as long as I wanted, as the toe was being elevated. “Look for what you can do, not what you can’t”.  And then I got over zealous and started kicking up to handstand while trying to keep my foot protected.  And deep down I knew I was missing the point.  This wasn’t taking it easy, this wasn’t resting, this wasn’t letting my body repair.  This was more madness!

Lastly, “Yoga isn’t the postures”.  I love the postures and I love the feeling of freedom and strength and joy I get from sweating, and backbending, and handstanding. But that isn’t it.  It can’t be it.  Because that is temporal.  I think yoga has to be something more eternal.  It has to be the thing, the spirit, the essence, the breath.  The body will always come and go, wax and wane, with injury, illness, age and so on.  The yoga is the bit of joy that can swell the heart and be shared.  And injury can be our window to take a closer look at what yoga is really about…

so be kind to yourself, kind to others, and steer clear of patio furniture.

Friday Morning Meditation

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast? said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.

-The Tao of Pooh

Photo courtesy Rene Carrillo

Breakfast has become my favorite time.  I sit in our conservatory looking in the back garden at the birds and the neighbor cats that wander through our cat trails. I drink a coffee that was made from a pod and eat a croissant covered in butter.  The day hasn’t really started at this point and I resist the urge to open my computer for as a long as I possibly can.  Because once I open it I can’t get back to this first moment of the day again.  The morning is a fresh, unspoiled place to just sit, meditate, or think of nothing, and to savour the first cup of coffee.

What could possibly happen in the course of the rest day that could be better than this time?  I suppose everything, and nothing.  It is this time in the present moment that the birds are enough, the sky is enough, the sunshine is enough, my croissant is enough.  The moment is complete.  And for the rest of the day there might be glimmers of this, but mostly I will be reaching, working, planning, plotting, thinking, grasping, accomplishing, relaxing, and so on.  But this morning, the completeness seems to linger.

Monday Meditation

“‘When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

– Patanjali

Photo Courtesy Rene Carrillo

Downward Facing Tree?

I have always wondered why handstand is referred to as Adho Mukha Vrksasana in yoga, or ‘downward facing tree’.  It certainly doesn’t look like tree pose turned upside down. It is more like upside down utthita tadasana, extended mountain pose.

I have been a real handstand junky as of late.  And it was through this handstand immersion that downward facing tree suddenly had meaning to me.

It is in the architecture of the pose that we mimic a tree.  Rooted down to earth with strength, the tree rises towards the sky.

Handstand is all about preparing the base of support and then building the pose from the ground up.

And they are fun to do anywhere.  Tara Stiles does them in the concrete jungle…where do you do down face tree?

Yoga for S.A.D.

Kansas City Sunflower from my Parent's Garden

Here in England, the weather can be a bit grey.  As winter sets in, I am gaining an understanding for why the term “Seasonal Affective Disorder” arose.  The oppressive weather can darken even the cheeriest of spirits.

Perhaps there are some ways we can add a bit of sunshine into our souls, come rain or shine.  I would like to propose that a yoga practice might lift the winter blues.

Inversions

Postures that bring the head below the heart or the legs above the heart are known as inversions.  These poses bring fresh blood to the brain which is energizing.  They also boost the immune system and help regulate hormones.

Heart Opening

Yoga involves opening the heart by lifting the chest.  Expanding the chest open and drawing the shoulders back helps lift mood by bolstering confidence and creating feelings of optimism.  Feel the love.  Share the love.

Gratitude

I have never walked out of a yoga class where I didn’t feel at least some heightened feelings of gratitude.  When the weight of the world has a chance to lift off our shoulders, we mainly see what we are thankful for.