Party Tricks...Partying Yoga Style.

Dear Sweet Community,

Its been a pretty exciting week for me. I decided I was ready to try bouldering and lead climbing again. As many of you know, I fell abut 14 feet bouldering and shattered my heel bone, tearing out the cartilage in the subtaler joint. Its not that I ever was scared to climb again, its more that I had this mentality of protecting my foot. For most of my recovery there have been varying opinions on what to do and when to do it. In the back of my mind there has been the possibility of developing a mental block; a profound fear of falling. I have been internally grappling with this. How do I honor my own recovery and not let fear get the best of me? I decided to trust myself. I listened to my own voice. I tried bouldering and purposefully jumping off at 6 feet. was scary! Jeez it was scary. But also wonderful. Since that had gone well, and I realized that I can trust my foot to take more impact I decided to take a few lead falls. That was a bigger feat, because if I had missed the first two clips I would have taken a big fall to the ground. But that is just it; if we are trying to protect ourselves from the uncertainty, well we will be a nervous wreck. I thought about all of the times the word "fall"is used in othe English language. We "fall" in love or we "fall" for it for example. There is a reason this word is used often. Because sometimes we just blindly let go and see what happens. 

Words cannot describe how it felt to be scared, (not scared in a "what might happen" way but scared in a "it did happen" way) and do it anyway. I kept focusing on the mantra I have had as a climber:

The only thing to fear is fear itself.

This is why I fell in love with rock climbing in the first place- I could work with my fear and master it. But I also was reunited with a part of myself that I had missed. Only now while I am interested in climbing hard and taking the risk, there is something wiser and kinder in my body. Something more intentional and careful. 

So here is the moral for me; if life doesn't provide me with challenges, then I won't get to earn the sweet satisfaction of overcoming them. I love returning to this sport even more now. Because it is challenging my character to recover, and not see myself as injured. I am reminded to trust the strength and health of my body. And I am reminded that not every "fall" is a bad one :)

Alignment Tip of The week:

The past two Fridays we explored one of my favorite party tricks, Tittibhasana (Firefly pose) and the Bandhas (energetic locks). 

We can't do much in yoga without the bhandas. The bandhas are energetic locks, they keep prana in certain places. Because we are moving Prana up the Shushumna Nadi, from the unconscious self to the self that is awake and free from suffering, the bands help us stay in more conscious states. 

Mula Bandha is the root lock. Its anatomical reference is the pelvic floor. As with all bandas, we engage them by softening into the muscle. To find Mula Bandha, sit in a comfortable cross legged position and cultivate Uijayi breath. As you breathe, relax the pelvic floor. Breathe in and feel the pelvic floor lift like you want to lift yourself off of the floor. As you exhale feel the pelvic floor gather like it is capturing energy and lifting it up and not letting it pool into your legs. This is not a squeezing, it is simply a lifting. 

Uddiyana Bandha is the lock found in the core. Its anatomical reference is the abdominals. To access Uddiyana Bandha try lying down on the floor with you knees bent and feet on the floor hip width apart. Bring your hands to your quadriceps low by your hip points, fingertips facing your knees. Take a deep breath in and relax your belly as it fills with air making a "buddha belly". As you exhale breathe through the mouth and push your hands into your quadriceps and let the belly empty organically. Remember you are not "tensing the belly" instead let it empty and soften. Once all of your breath is out, retain the breath and, without inhaling, sip the lowest belly down a little more and let it move up towards the top of the back ribs. Again, the image of locking energy higher towards the heart bring this lock to life. 

The Bandhas lift us out of the force of gravity and they allow us to be stable in otherwise unstable positions either on our hands or feet. They are essential in arm balancing. 

Tittibhasana is sure to make people take pause at your next bbq. To do this pose you need open hamstrings and hips. Start standing with your feet a little wider than hip distance apart. Bend your knees bringing your shoulders inside your knees. Reach your thumbs to the back of your heels and shimmy your shoulders underneath your knees. Then reach your hands behind your feet. you will have to lean into your hands with the palms flat and fingers facing your heels. As you do this your heels will come off of the floor. You will be essentially resting your legs on your upper arms. Try crossing one ankle on top of the other. If this works, try straightening your legs. Squeeze the elbows in and use Mula Bandha lifting your pelvic floor. This will keep the inner legs pulling in and up. The full pose is legs towards the sky. 

And voila, you have a little something in your back pocket when the party seems to be getting a little blah...happy summer!

As always, 

See you on the Mat,