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Day 11 Makes It Easy To Be Green January 21, 2011

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 21-Day Challenge, Changing Perspectives, Fitness, Health, Mantra, Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Music, Philosophy, Science, Texas, Twin Cities, Yoga.
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Day 11

“I am green and it’ll do fine, ’cause it’s beautiful / And I think it’s what I want to be…”

– Kermit the Frog

Physically and energetically, Anahata (“Unstruck”) Chakra, the green/heart energy wheel, extends beyond the upper torso and into the arms. So, I like to remind my students that their arms, their hands, and even their fingers are extensions of their heart and breath. Then, I take it further; see if they can extend their heart into their legs and toes, even their heels. I like for them to visualize how that works, energetically. I also like to focus on how leading with the heart can take any pose deeper. And, whenever possible, I encourage my students and myself to find the heart opening experience in poses that are not backbends.

There’s really no getting around the fact that mine is a heart centered practice. Sometimes this leads to some emotionally overwhelming, and confusing moments – moments we don’t always have the luxury to explore in a gym or studio setting where one class bumps into the next. I don’t believe, however, that we (as a society) can afford to practice (or live) any other way. Just as our heart chakra connects the two hemispheres of our bodies, it connects us to each other. Physiologically, we all have hearts running on electrical impulses – which, in the philosophy of yoga, we view as prana, life force energy. Metaphorically, we associate the heart with love – an emotional manifestation of energy. Metaphysically speaking, we combine the two in yoga every time we say Namaste: the light in me honors and acknowledges the light that is also in you.

Of course, since there are a lot of traditional backbends to choose from in the physical practice of yoga, I eagerly anticipated which ones Elise Lorimer would do on Day 11’s 30-Minute Aligning and Refining Practice featuring Backbends. I was also curious to see how she would open up the body for these poses. In keeping with my own philosophy, she started by bringing awareness to the breath-heart connection and by warming up the arms and shoulder girdle. She then proceeded through some heat building Sun Salutations and Warrior poses, both of which brought additional awareness to the back-body. Throughout the video, simple backbends appeared and became progressively deeper. All in all, it was a very nice and elegant sequence.

I only wish it had been longer. Since I wasn’t in a heated studio, and was slightly distracted by some technical difficulties I experienced earlier, my body didn’t feel like it was warming up until we were in the cooling down portion of the practice. The poses selected were simple enough for anyone to do and follow, however, a pose like Dhanurasana (Bow Pose) as it was presented can be unaccessible for some students. This is where I was frustrated by the lack of modifications. Sure, I can do it – even when my body is cold – but what about the person who can’t reach back and grab both feet, let alone both ankles. Honestly, I was surprised Lorimer didn’t comment on the fact that you could do the pose one leg at a time.  I was especially surprised since she had offered other modifications along the way, including using the strap – which could also be utilized here.

Even though I didn’t feel particularly warm, the sequence whetted my appetite. I wanted more. Not only did I want more to warm me up, I wanted more backbending. This sequence could have easily worked it’s way into Ustrasana (Camel Pose) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), not to mention Natarajasana (Dancer Pose) and any number of heart opening arm balances like Wild Thing/Flip Dog, Bound Table, Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose), and Kapinjalasana (Chataka Partridge Pose). Of course, there were only 30 minutes, and some of these poses aren’t appropriate for this medium. I’d be curious to know, however, how Lorimer leads this series in a regular class setting and where she goes with it before she gets into the Surrender sequence.

Because of the aforementioned technical difficulties, I did my 18-Minute seated meditation before the asana practice. Today’s video is yet another one I look forward to experiencing, at some point, as an actual prelude to sitting. Until then, I’ll just keep being green and seeing where my heart will take me.