A DEFLATED EGO AND HONEST STARTING POINT
Pre-knee injury and baby, I could do some really cool yoga poses; when I achieved bird of paradise for the first time I felt so POWERFUL! And when I started practicing inversions… my ego got pretty big. Apparently, God decided I needed to learn some humility and to slow down.
It has been really cool to explore the basics of human movement through my own practice and observing my little girl now pick her head up like a champ! The foundation for all movement begins by simply pushing away from the ground. To gain any independence a baby first lifts their head, then rolls over, then starts to crawl, then shakily starts to sit up… you get the picture. This foundational physical work, the basics, is what my body is craving to heal. A functional progression like this will not only honor my body where it is today but strengthen foundational movements for safe progression to more advanced postures like Eight Angle Pose or running a marathon.
It’s important to note that on the journey to standing, you pass through a seated position. We often under value the importance of the seat. Developmentally, you first learn to sit before you start standing to gain your bearings in the new altitude. Similarly, finding a comfortable seat on the ground can help you gain your mental bearings in any situation before moving forward. A seated posture can be both the gateway to new heights and the destination for mental clarity or meditation.
Although I know all of this, my ego stops me from developing a consistent practice because I can’t do the cool stuff anymore. The value I place on external achievements (insert “crazy” poses) is not what yoga is about. To be honest, the first yogis conceptualized asana (what we now use to refer to all poses) as simply a comfortable seat (check out The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali). That was their yoga. Be humble Elise and be like the original yogis. I need reoccurring perspective shifts to make progress toward the active lifestyle I love and to be the best teacher I can be.
Building off insight from last week and inspiration from my wiggly, head lifting, persistent 2.5 month old girl, I decided to build a yoga sequence that moves me off the ground much like a baby learns to stand. I need to check my ego and grow my confidence based on my own yoga journey and no one else’s, as do you. The following yoga sequence progresses through three levels to mimic every baby’s progression towards movement: laying down, seated, and standing. Then we will return back to the ground as repeated practice is necessary to build new habits.
YOGA SEQUENCE FOR THE WEEK
Begin in Corpse Pose (Savasana) for a few breaths. Identify your intention (mental focus such as non-judgement or awareness of breath). This will give you something to anchor your practice when your mind starts drifting to other thoughts (like what’s for dinner).
Stretch your arms and legs out as far as you can for a good awakening stretch.
Roll to either side. Place your hands under your shoulders and push the ground away, possibly arriving in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana). Roll your shoulders and your head; wiggle around to explore what feels right for you and your current strength. Are your elbows bent or straight? What do you feel?
Reset your spine in Child’s Pose (Balasana).
Push your hips up and back to a neutral tabletop position (hands and knees). Inhale, expanding your chest to Cow Pose (Bitilasana). Exhale, curving your spine into a rainbow, for Cat Pose (Marjaryasana). Repeat for a few breaths. Return to tabletop and a neutral spine.
Stretch your right leg back, tapping the ground or hovering in the air on the same plane as your hips. After a few breaths, pull your leg back in and switch legs. Try this while extending the alternate arm. Return to neutral or table top position.
Sit back on your heels. Crawl your hands in toward the body. One vertebra at a time, zip your spine straight up toward the sky for a comfortable seated position of your choosing. Try a few twists here on each side or leaning your shoulders toward the ground on each side for more spinal stretches.
Return to the tabletop position. Raise your hips toward the sky for Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Pedal your feet or stay for a few breaths. Walk your feet toward the top of the mat for a forward fold before rolling up to Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Stay for a few breaths; return your focus to your intention; settle your mind.
Return to the ground the same way you came up. Fold at the hips for a forward fold. Walk your feet back to Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Bend knees to meet the ground to pass through table top on the way to a comfortable seat – try Hero Pose (Virasana).
Straighten out one leg at a time to create a 90 degree angle with your body, Staff Pose (Dandasana). Roll your spine down, inch by inch, back to the ground to land safely in Corpse Pose (Savasana). I offer a few variations here such as Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana) or Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana) before the final destination of Savasana. Repeat as many or as few times as your heart desires.
NEED HELP APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES IN YOUR LIFE? MEET WITH ME PRIVATELY.
Sometimes we can “therapize” ourselves and other times we can not seem to figure out why things are so difficult. If you would like to meet with me to explore ways to become your best self, feel free to contact me (http://www.elisedaviscounseling.com). I offer individual therapy in private, comfortable spaces in Raleigh, NC and Durham, NC. Information about cost of services, insurance options, and availability can be found on the website.
If you are interested in integrating movement through yoga into your therapy process or personalized workshops please contact me via the same website.
E.N.D. Pain. Let go. Live,
Elise Nicole Davis