Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Power of Dancing Shiva

Natarajasana – also known as King Dancer, Dancing Shiva, or Lord of the Dance – is an amazing yoga pose that helps us deal with one of our most fundamental fears: the fear of change. Its power lies in challenging us to use faith to confront two fearful actions: the action of balancing and the action of opening our heart.

Shiva is a Hindu God who plays the cosmic role of the Lord of the Dance. With a drum in one hand and the dancing flame of enlightenment in the other, the Dancing Shiva crushes ignorance and extinguishes the poison that separates us from the divine source of life. Shiva slowly beats his drum to usher in the destruction of one age in order to allow for the birth of the next. He is an equally beautiful and terrifying image. It teaches us that destruction is part of creation, and death is part of life. Rather than resist, we learn to surrender, to find our center and open our heart to change.

To practice Natarajasana, first find your center in Mountain Pose. Plant one foot, then bend your other knee to lift your foot behind you. Hitchhike your thumb back and grab the inside of your foot or your big toe. Lift your other arm by your ear like a graceful dancer. Press your foot into your hand and allow the isometric force to move your body. Your leg will naturally begin to rise. Breathe deeply and lift up your torso a little more. Feel your chest muscles release so that your heart can open. If you fall out of the pose, try again. Remember to spend the same amount of time on each side. Bravo!

Images: “104 King Dancer / Dancing Shiva” coloring by Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. From Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big Little Coloring Book of 108 Poses. Picture of Yoga Teddy Bear creator K. Mae Copham practicing Natarajasana by Robert Oakley.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Flowering Lotus in Honor of Mothers Everywhere

This week’s pose is dedicated to mothers everywhere. Vikasitakamalasana, or Flowering Lotus, is a wonderful balancing pose that opens your hips, strengthens your core and improves your sense of balance.  The Lotus is a pure and beautiful flower that grows and thrives in murky waters like ponds. Weathering droughts and time, the seed of the lotus can survive for hundreds of years and still sprout anew. Like the flower it's named for, this pose cultivates resilience and inner harmony - two things every mother needs.

To practice Flowering Lotus, first find Boat Pose. From a seated position, bend your knees and hold the backs of your thighs. Sit up super tall and lift your feet but don’t rock the boat backwards. Inhale and with control bring the soles of your feet together. Exhale and gently thread your arms under your knees. Open your palms to the sky like a flower opening to the sun. Sit up as tall as you can. Your body resembles a beautiful lotus flower floating on the water. Breathe deeply and see how long you can balance.

Close your eyes and feel gratitude for mothers everywhere. Include our Mother Earth. Consider also the mother that lives inside you, feeling compassion and offering intuitive protection toward the child within you and within others. Mothers give us life, nourish us and help us grow. Thank you to all our mothers!

A special thanks to Harry Hayes for sending the coloring page to inspire this week's blog, as well as to Robert Oakley for taking my picture in Central Park in October 2016. Coloring page from Yoga Teddy Bear's Big Little Coloring Book of 108 Poses.