I recently taught a yoga class series on transitioning, in this case, to the new year. It was pointed out this is good contemplation for any transition of time. And someone else suggested I summarize it in a blog. So, here you go!
Out with the old.
It is useful to take time in the day, at the end of a week, a month, a season, or the year to reflect on what occurred. By doing so we have a chance to grow, lighten our load and create health. Conscious release includes acknowledgement/honoring, gratitude, learning and integration. This process makes space for what is ahead and lets our experience become support rather than a burden or something that hardens us.
My approach to consciousness is embodied consciousness. How can I use the body to effect change in my heart and mind and connect more deeply to Spirit? Asana (yoga postures) is a chance to physically practice these concepts. There are many ways this could be approached and for this most recent class I emphasized use of the front and back of the body during asana (postures). The front body supporting the back body, and the back body supporting the front body.
I did a search of my yoga books and the internet looking for opinions on what helps with release. Other findings included:
Pranayama – breathing is of course very beneficial for cleansing the body. Bastrika breathing, or pumping the lower abdomen while breathing in and out through the nose is an example of a cleansing breath. Nadi Shodana (alternate nostril breathing) is also helpful. It’s easy to underestimate the benefits of simple things like breathing. Here is some scientific proof! Scientific evidence for health benefits of yoga breathing (Int J Yoga. 2018 Sep-Dec;11(3):186-193. Implication of Asana, Pranayama and Meditation on Telomere Stability. Rathore M, Abraham J.)
Asana – twists and supported twists, Simhasana (Lion Pose), Baddha Konasana (seated and reclined) , Biparita Karani (legs up the wall), balasana (child’s pose) and shavasana (corpse pose)
In with the new.
Once we have made space, we can welcome the new with intention. Intention implies stating a desire but being open to how that desire is supported by the greater good and how it will come to fruition. It requires deliberate thought and introspection. When ego sets a goal, this implies a more limited perspective, bound by the individual’s gaze from limited body and consciousness. Intention implies welcoming support from those around and also by the Divine.
There are four things required to meet the new and unknown with intention. They are ease, perspective, embodiment (also could be called grounded or centered), and an open heart.
Use asana to embody these aspects by putting your attention to creating one of these qualities within a posture. I found a lovely practice from yoga therapeutics taught by Beth Spindler called Spandana. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/spandana-practice-for-yoga-therapeutics to practice creating ease. Another definition of ease is suppleness in the muscles, they are strong but soft.
Drishti or eye gaze during a posture can remind us that we see from a limited perspective. We can acknowledge that other perspectives exist and be willing to listen.
Listening with the body is a form of open-heartedness. Physically we can work on mobility in the thoracic cage. Energetically we can become aware of the felt sense of the space about us.
Moving with a stable core and awareness of our body in contact with the floor helps us be embodied and centered.
Quotes on Intention
“Live less out of habit and more out of intent.” Amy Rubin Flett
“Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life, the universe will keep giving them to you.” Unknown
“Our intention creates our reality.” Wayne Dyer
“Circumstances do not make the man, they merely reveal him to himself.” James Allen
Questions to consider:
What are your hopes and dreams for the coming year? Can you for this into an intention?
Where do you experience ease?
What is your habitual perspective/ Can you give a name to the ego voice you identify most strongly with?
What grounds you?
What are the ways you nourish your heart?
Happy New Year! Sara Nelson, PT DPT, WCS, RYT