This post is part of Sadhana, a 26-week exploration of each of the Namaste Yoga sequences. It’s never too late to join! All that is required is to try a new Namaste sequence each week – and don’t forget to post about your experiences to be entered in our monthly contests. Read all the Sadhana posts here or connect with others participating in Sadhana on our Facebook wall.
When you feel confident, calm, collected, and self-assured, how do you physically carry yourself? What is your posture like? Think about those happy moments. Your mood, your tone is conveyed in your posture, your walk and the overall carriage of your body. Shoulders are relaxed and down, your spine is straight and tall, chest lifted, chin tucked a little, eyes looking steadily forward. Your walk feels lighter and everything lifts!
How many times have you heard those instructions in the Namaste Yoga sequences? Keep your shoulders away from your ears, lengthen your spine, lift from your chest, look up! Are we learning yoga, or are we in some sort of self-esteem class?
No matter what kind of class you're attending, you can expect there are always going to be ways to measure your progress. Nearing the end of our 26-week Sadhana, you can consider the Dove sequence one such assessment tool.
"The longest journey begins with a single step," ~ Lao Tzu
It's time to see what you've learned. Are you ready? Lower into Wide-Legged Forward Fold. Your spine should be straight (ha-ha! Confidence-building moment right here!) Exhale and release. The wider stance means you can bring your head closer to the ground. This feels good already, doesn't it? Dove is a challenging sequence, but you are ready for the challenge.
Wide-Legged Downward Facing Dog is another moment to gain confidence. Really enjoy exploring this familiar pose in a new way! The wider stance relieves the tension in the calf muscles and allows you to focus more fully on the expression of the posture. Have fun with it!
You can continue to explore favorite poses in new ways with the Wide-Legged Standing Twist. By changing the pull of gravity on this pose, it is easier to lengthen the spine. Reaching up allows for greater expansion in the chest and the emphasis can be on the flow of the arms extending and reaching skyward.
"Feel the twist in the body, feel the spine," Kate encourages.
Here's comes that wonderful pose that boggles the minds and bodies of so many... Crane balance takes all the confidence, clarity and focus you are growing and utilizes them to teach you to fly! Hug your body tight with your legs, be strong at your center! Your gaze is ahead, not down. Push fully through your arms, imagine their strength and potential to lift you higher and higher! Be aware of every finger, they must all work together to assist your efforts.
No matter what happens: if you fall, if your toes NEVER leave the ground, if one foot leaves the ground, if both feet leave the ground for two seconds or even ten (!), smile! Observe what happens and move on. There is no wrong or right, there is no failure! There is only success because you attempted the pose, and you learn from every attempt. Congratulations! Your Crane balance was unique and exceptional!
"Negative intentions evaporate beneath the rising sun of love," ~ Sri Ramakrishna
Now, lower into the Wide-Hero stance for some Side Bending. This pose may not be very comfortable, so consider modifying by sitting on a block or pillow. Use all of your confident posture techniques here: lift the chest, drop the chin and shoulders, lengthen the spine and breathe. You may not go very far to either side in this position, just enjoy the flow of the movement with the rhythm of your breath. Calm the body and maintain your focus to prepare for your next step.
Dove Pose continues the lateral stretch, but by twisting the spine, targets your core in a different way. Keep your chest lifted and approach the posture with lighthearted confidence. Enjoy the gliding motion of the arms with the breath.
You have earned your Savasana! Let any tension remaining in the body and mind drop down and away. It's time to let go. Remember the confident moments of your practice, remember your smile and let go of the rest. You can come back to this place again and again.
"Yoga is a practice that requires both effort, and letting go of the results of that effort," Kate reminds us. As long as you put forth your best effort, you have passed the test!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather Gregory is an avid Namaste yogini and has been practicing the sequences nearly every day for three years. We enlisted Heather to embark on Sadhana, our 26 -week journey, and blog about each sequence. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org