What do we do with all the bad news and violence swirling around us in our modern world? How do we cope? How do we feel safe? How do we adjust our focus to feel good about the world in which we live?
A good place to start to feel good - and feel safe - is in your own body. Yoga allows us to look inside and cultivate positive qualities within ourselves so that we can be a light in the world. The more lights there are in the world, the brighter humanity will shine. Here are four poses that will help you start to feel good about the world today. Give them a try.
1. Peaceful Warrior. (Baddha Virabhadrasana)
This beautiful pose embodies the idea of both internal and external peace. From a standing position, take a big step forward. Bend your front knee so you can see your toes. Turn your back heel down. Keep your knee over your ankle and open your arms wide front to back in a straight line (Warrior 2 pose). Take slow, deep breaths, then turn your front palm up and reach forward just a little to make space in your back ribs. Gently see-saw your arms by lifting your front arm to the sky and sliding your back arm down your leg. Make sure your front knee stays over your ankle as you look up at your hand. You can even drape your lifted arm around your head. Close your eyes and feel peaceful inside as you breathe deeply. Next do the same pose with the other foot in front.
2. Gate Pose. (Parighasana)
Have you ever noticed that you hold your breath when you’re nervous or afraid? Gate Pose creates space in between your ribs so that your breath can flow more freely. Breathing freely is critical to both feeling good and feeling safe. Start on your knees, using a blanket under your legs if needed. Stretch one leg to the side. Slide your hand down your extended leg while your other arm reaches up and over your head. Bend at your waist and look up to stretch open your side ribs like a gate. Breathe deeply and luxuriate in the stretch for a while. Then switch sides.
3. Crab Pose (Ardha Purvottanasana)
Think of this pose as a way to open up to the sky above - the sun, the stars, and the whole Universe. Also called “Reverse Table,” this pose is a playful way to stretch your shoulders, hips and thighs while you also strengthen your wrists and your core. Start seated with your knees bent and your hands on the floor behind you with your fingers pointed toward your tail. Press your hips up high so that you don’t see your knees any more. Yogi’s choice: drop your head back, look up at the sky or look forward. Breathe deeply, pressing upward with your inhale and relaxing in the pose with your exhale.
4. Side Splits (Upavistha Konasana)
Also known as “Wide Angle Seated Forward Fold,” this pose provides a means to release the fear that’s naturally held deeply within our hip joints. Sit on the floor and spread your legs apart as wide as you can. Keep your spine long and tall as you lean forward. Stretch your arms out in front of you and if you can reach, rest your forehead on the ground it feels nice. Close your eyes and reflect upon all the things in your life that bring you joy. Say to yourself “I trust the process of life.” Breathe in. Breathe out.
Life is too short to focus on all the bad stuff. That doesn’t mean we ignore the world around us, but we can take little time-outs from the news in order to focus on our bodies and the things that bring us joy. In so doing, we’ll add just one more drop to the ocean of love that has the ability to swell in the heart of humanity and carry us forward to peace. Namaste.