Monday, December 1, 2008

I Bow to You

This is the time of year that my mind gravitates toward celebration and tradition. This month, we'll see the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and the origin of many of our modern celebrations. The waning light enables us to contemplate more as we direct our thoughts and energy more inward. To me, the underlying theme for all the different traditions is taking time to reflect on what matters. That reflection can be in the form of a family gathering, gift-giving, lighting candles, prayer, meditation... anything that allows us to pause in our daily lives and see the bigger picture. We also see this pause in our yoga classes, when we bow at the end and repeat the word "namaste". Literally, namaste means "I bow to you" and is usually said with palms pressed together at the center of the chest and the head bowed. The physical gestures represent a respect of the heart's wisdom, and an acknowledgment that we are all connected. Performing namaste with conscious intention is a quick but significant celebration that we can all share, no matter our religion, politics, geography or social-economic situation!

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Enjoy your chosen celebration and thank you for your continued support and attention. I bow to you. Namaste, Lorien

Monthly Pose
Parivrtta Trikonasana (Crossed Triangle posture, original variation)

Most of us were taught this pose as part of our physical education in school; I remember them as "windmills", and they were done quite fast. Rather than go quickly, move slowly into the pose, pause and breath as you explore the movement of your spine, then come out with control and a strong back.

To come into the pose:
1) Stand with your feet wide apart, 3.5-4 feet. Turn your feet so the outside edges are parallel. Imagine a pulley system in your legs - running down the outside of your legs and running up the inside of your legs. In this way, keep your arches from falling and activate your inner thighs. Be aware of over-straightening your knees and put a very small bend in them.
2) Open your arms wide and lengthen through the crown of your head, stretching your body in all 5 directions. (As you fold, remember to keep this length through your torso.)
3) Twist at your waist and bend so that your right hand comes towards your left foot. Try not to twist your hips. If you cannot easily reach the floor, place your hand on your shin or a block; if you can easily reach the floor, try bringing your palm to the outside of your foot. Lengthen the crown of your head and try to look up at your left arm. Breathe here for 5-10 conscious breaths. Remember to energize your legs, especially the inside line.
4) To come out, engage your legs strongly, lengthen your spine and unwind. Lift slowly with a flat back and come back to standing. If you have low blood pressure, or if you notice a dizzy feeling when you rise, pause halfway and be sure to exhale as you come the rest of the way up. Repeat on the other side.

This pose strengthens the back muscles and stretches the hamstrings; it also encourages energy to move downward (apana), while energizing the intestines. This will keep your digestive fire active through the holiday seasons!

Schedule Updates
See website for complete schedule:

~ SPECIAL CLASSES IN DECEMBER: Foundation Yoga on Thursday, December 18th 9:00-10:30am and Yoga Basics on Sunday, December 21st 10:00-11:30am; both classes are at Willow Glen Yoga.
~ NEW CLASS FOR JANUARY: Hatha Flow Wednesday mornings 9:00-10:30am at Willow Glen Yoga begins January 7th; come explore the breath, bandhas, meditation and asana in a warm, dynamic practice - a perfect place to relieve the winter blahs and bring a smile to your face!
~ JANUARY WORKSHOP: Intro to Flow Workshop on Saturday, January 24th 1:30-4:00pm at Decathlon Club in Santa Clara. The perfect workshop to start or restart your dynamic yoga practice, you'll learn breath, poses and flows that are found in any flow yoga class, as well as the best ways to modify for your specific needs!