Happy summer! Those of you who have seen me recently know that I cut my hair short. I didn't cut it because of the season; I donated my hair to an organization called Locks of Love, a non-profit group that provides hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss. My daughter's teacher presented the idea to the class at the beginning of the school year, and we did it together. It was an interesting journey for me. I didn't think much about it until the time grew closer, and my hair was at a length that I really enjoyed. I never resented committing to the project, but did feel some conflict as I thought, "why can't I keep it this length always?" Then, I began to realize my mistake: hair grows - my hair, especially... I could never keep it the same length, because it's always changing. I began to detach from my hair, thinking of it as "foster" hair, and nurtured it for someone else. What a rewarding lesson! Rather than clinging to something that was bound to cause me unhappiness, I let it go for someone else to use. It made me want to repeat the process - to cling to the process, even!
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Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend pose)
To come into the pose, sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Lean your torson back a bit, and press your hands into the floor to open the legs wide. Ground your SITS bones down (if you are stuck rolling onto your tailbone, elevate the hips as described below). You knees and toes should face up. Raise your chest up and out to bend forward, keeping the knees and toes facing up and your back long. Find your limit and either rest on your hands, elbows, a bolster or the floor. Once you've found your edge, back off a bit and soften the joints - ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, neck and jaw. Breathe here for 1-5 minutes, supporting your torso with your hands as you come out. Be sure to rotate your ankles, bend your knees and rotate your hips to relieve any tension. Here is the Yoga Journal's picture of the pose.
If the hips are tight, elevate them with a folded blanket or cushion.
If the hamstrings are tight (you feel an excessive pull at the back of your knees), bend your knees and put a towel or blanket roll underneath, or place your feet flat on the floor.
If you don't feel yourself descending very far, put a chair in front of you and rest your arms and head on the seat of the chair. Here is a picture of that variation.
This pose opens the hips, groin, back and inside of the legs, massages the reproductive organs, stimulates the ovaries, calms the brain, relieves sciatica and arthritis in the hips.