Dear Sweet Community,
During pride I walked home from NOPA to Noe Valley through the Castro. It was really warm outside so I meandered taking my time. I encountered such infectious joy. And I thought about the right to love whomever we want. No one tells me I can't love my mom or my sister or even my friends. So why has it even been an issue who we can love romantically?
I remember one time when my grandma told me that she would rather I marry a Jew because we are Jewish and we have to stick together because of the discrimination we have endured. I was reactive. Love is love; the heart doesn't discriminate. But that was naive, society, does discriminate. Marginalization hurts and creates more of it.
I am just so happy that I am seeing change in my lifetime. As a Yogi, I hope to mitigate suffering, not cause it. I think our country took a huge step forwards. That is not to say that damage hasn't been incurred and there is subsequent healing to be done. It is to say that I am humbled to see the way this country has been forgiven for its huge ignorance and the resounding reaction I encountered on my walk home was joy. Pretty awesome of you ask me :)
Alignment Tip of The week:
The past two Fridays we focused on Parsvottonasana (Pyramid Pose) and inversions in the proper order in which to learn them.
So Parsvottonasana or Pyramid pose is a deep forward bend. The alignment of this pose is in the warrior I family. To enter it bring your right leg forward and make sure your feet are on separate train tracks so your legs are in the same line as your hips. Spin your back foot in 45 degrees like warrior I. Take a moment to bring your hands to blocks or tent your fingertips on the earth and straighten your spine parallel to the earth. As you do this, square off your hips like a tabletop. Press down equally through both heels and feel that energy draw up through the inner legs. Press down through both big toes and pinkie toes at the same time. Then exhale feeling your belly tuck beck and up and fold forward into a forward bend WITHOUT curving your spine. Pyramid not only stretches the hamstrings, but because of the warrior I position in the feet, it stretches into the psoas and the low back and outside of the hip. I like to do pyramid even if I only have a few minutes in my day, because of its more comprehensive quality to stretching :)
Inversions are meant to revitalize the brain and to turn our perspective upside down. After all, if it isn't working right side up; then try turning it upside down! Inversions require a lot of core. Think of your arms and legs as scaffolding and rutters and the core being the stabilizing unit. The cervical spine, or neck, is very fragile. Therefore, we want to make sure that we understand going upside down without weight on the head before we do headstand, weighting the head. In all three inversions the alignment principles are as follows:
Start by standing and drawing your shoulder blades down your back so the shoulders are stabilized. This means you have a stable foundation and won't collapse into your neck and backbend. Next, zip the midline by starting with the inner legs, lifting the pelvic floor, knitting the front of the ribs and engaging the core.
Handstand comes first because there is no pressure on your head. Handstand requires us to use our arms wisely. Remember that in handstand you need to press down through your hands to lift to the sky. Placing the hands on the earth lift one leg to the sky, rock back and forth gaining some momentum and then lift up into handstand against the wall. Practice keeping your shoulders down your back and pressing through the arms. Reach through your legs knitting the midline. In handstand there is no pressure on the neck so you can really practice lifting out of the earth. Use your legs as an extension of your hands.
After handstand try Pinchamayurasana (forearm stand). Forearm stand is less stable than handstand. While the head is still off of the ground, there is more pressure put on the shoulders. Bring your arms into cactus arms and squeeze them in parallel, then place them on the floor. Really press down through the forearms to lift out of the shoulders. Tuck your toes under walking the feet in and follow the steps for handstand to lift up against the wall. In forearm stand you will be challenged to keep the shoulders down the back and not backbend which will ultimately keep pressure off of the neck. Try really mastering this shape.
The final inversion is Sirsasana (headstand). This is the most advanced of the inversions because of the pressure on the neck. To enter Sirsasana, come to cactus arms and place your forearms on the ground. Then interlace your fingers with one pinkie finger crossed in front of the other (not underneath). Just like the other inversions press down through your forearms drawing the shoulder blades down the back. Straighten your legs and walk your toes in, try coming up through a tuck and resting your feet on the wall, then straighten your legs. You should feel very little pressure on your head and neck. You should feel like you can lift your head off of the ground like forearm stand. In headstand you are using the skills you have developed from the prior inversions; strength in your arms and core, lifting out of the neck by anchoring the shoulders down the back rather than collapsing them, and knitting the midline.
Remember inversions are for exploring a new perspective, approach them from a place of curiosity. Please resist advancing through the inversions until you have really mastered each one and are confident that you can control the amount of pressure on your neck.
See you on the mat,