Sunday, April 22, 2018

Happy Earth Day!

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April 22 is Earth Day. It’s a day to take a little time to breathe deeply and notice everything around you in the physical world. The surprising beauty of nature, the wonder of the sun and the stars, the songs of birds and the buds on the trees awakening in spring. It’s easy to forget that even the man-made world originates completely in nature. Yes, even our skyscrapers and cell phones come from Earth.

Honor Earth this week by finding a place to connect to the ground beneath you. If possible, put your bare feet on grass or dirt. Then sit down with your legs stretched out in front of you. Inhale and make yourself taller by lifting the top of your head toward the sky. Feel as if the energy from your spine continues to move down through the dirt to the center of the planet. Focus on a point in the distance and soften your eyes. 

Move into Seated Wide Angle Pose (Samakonasana or “the splits.”) Spread your legs as wide as you can. Flex your toes toward the sky. Use your hands to push yourself up tall. Keep your spine long as you slide your hands along the ground and lean forward. Stretch your arms out in front or reach out to hold your ankles. Let your back curl to rest your forehead or cradle your head in your hands if it feels nice. Breathe slowly and deeply, taking in all the smells and sounds around you.

To finish, lay on your back and look at the sky. Allow everything you see and feel to fill you as you are cradled by this incredibly abundant planet.

Image: Photo of K. Mae Copham in Vail, CO by Robert Oakley

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Solid Foundations: Pyramid Pose

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Spring offers a happy reminder of impermanence. It’s a time to reflect that change is constant and the dark days of winter will pass. But even though nothing lasts forever, humans have managed to create structures that have lasted for four thousand years. These are the pyramids. Why do they stand so long? Because they are balanced. A structure that is widest at the bottom provides a sound foundation for stability. 

So too Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana) also known as Pyramid Pose. By starting with a wide, solid stance for a foundation, the pose sets up a study base from which to open the back of our body. To practice Pyramid Pose, begin in Mountain Pose with your feet shoulder width apart. Step one foot forward so your stance is wide like a pyramid. Put your arms behind your back and grab opposite elbows, then breathe in and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Breathe out and fold forward with your back long and straight. 

Experiment with arm variations like reverse prayer (hands behind you with palms together) or simply keep your arms strong by your side. For more intensity release your hands and press your fingertips down on either side of your front foot, moving your forehead toward your knee. Flex your leg muscles and breathe. Hint: To help balance, press into the big toe of your front foot and the pinky toe side of your back foot. 

From Pyramid Pose you can step forward into a forward fold, launch into Warrior 3, or back out of the pose the same way you went into it. Don’t forget to switch sides by spending an equal amount of time with your other foot in front. Namaste!

Images:Photos of K. Mae Copham by Robert Oakley, Vail, CO.Coloring page from Yoga Teddy Bear’s Big Little Coloring Book of 108 Yoga Poses colored by Miss Michele Palumbo, Bay Shore, NY. Enter our coloring contest to win prizes. Miss Michele needs some competition!