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Child’s Pose

Alone in a cabin in the mountains, I put the kettle on the stove. My husband left yesterday to return to the city, and I have a few days to myself before more relatives arrive. I want to take this time to better develop my “home” yoga practice.

After hot oatmeal, tea, and a refreshing shower, I’m ready. In the past, I would quickly find myself intimidated or overwhelmed at the thought of practicing yoga without a teacher and other students, but I recently read an article that put me at ease. It suggested starting with one pose – just one – and building from there.

One pose?

Well. In that case, Child’s Pose.

So that is what’s on my agenda as I walk over to the blue mat rolled out on the floor. It seems appropriate to “open” my practice, so I sit with my legs crossed and chant three Oms (can you believe it – no other voices to drown out mine).

Then I got on my hands and knees and folded back into Child’s Pose. I stayed in the active position instead of the passive position.

I’ve always loved this pose. A wonderful stretch. Also – and I’m not sure if the yoga experts would agree here – but to me it feels like a gratitude pose, bowing down and saying Thanks. Finally, it’s a relaxation pose – not just for the body, but for the mind.

I try to let go of my worries. I can hear the fire crackle in the woodstove behind me. I feel it’s warmth on my back. I sink into the Earth as the tops of my feet and the palms of my hands press into the ground. After a few minutes I lift my head. For awhile I turn around and gaze at the yellow flames through the woodstove’s glass door.

Not bad for my first day, I think. Tomorrow I’ll really shake things up with Child’s Pose and Tadasana. Š

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A Time to Feast

I’m hanging out with my parents when my dad sees me frantically rubbing my thumbs against the palms of my hands.

“Are you nervous?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.

He wants to know why. How to explain?

My parents have been visiting the past few days. I haven’t seen them in over six months. It’s the longest period of time we’ve ever been apart (even when I lived in Europe after college I saw them at least every four months). The past few days have been one big party. We’ve eaten red meat and fried foods. We’ve had Grasshoppers (ice cream and alcohol) and cookies. I think I munched on a vegetable in there somewhere – yes, I steamed spinach one night – but other than that, I can’t say I’ve been practicing “mindful eating” since Saturday. And my home yoga regime? Completely cut off once my parents arrived (although my mom saw my mat, which was rolled out on the floor, and she practiced sun salutations).

“I’m not sure what to blog about for Wasa this week,” I finally say to my dad.

“Well, let’s think,” he says.

“I’m supposed to blog about yoga and mindful eating, but I’m not inspired given my eating habits and lack of yoga practice,” I explain.

My dad is silent for awhile. “You could talk about how yoga is important for old people like me,” he finally says. “As people age, they are at an increased risk of falling. So write in your blog that yoga is important for balance and to do yoga with a Wasa cracker.”

“Uh, okay. Thanks,” I say.

“Just trying to help,” he says.

My mom chimes in too. “Oh, I know,” she says. “Blog about the fact that we bought a juicer.”

It’s true. My parents read the Wasa blog and were inspired to buy a juicer.

“Last week we made peach juice with vodka,” my mom says. “It was delicious!” She pauses. “Am I missing the point?”

Well, I do wish they would make vegetable juice instead, but maybe I’m the one who is missing the point. As I drop them off at the airport, I know what I’m going to blog about: A Time to Feast. This week we’ve hit up good restaurants and had fun cooking in too. We played cards and watched baseball and talked, all over scones for breakfast and steaks for dinner. It was a reunion. A celebration.  A time to enjoy life. Not that we couldn’t have done that over Brussels sprouts and brown rice, but eating well most of the time makes it easier to allow the exceptions. Not to mention, those “exceptions” are much appreciated.

Basic Equipment

I enjoy the beginning of yoga class because the opening is generally “easy” – well, at least physically (the meditating part can bring up its own set of challenges).

But before we practice some of the more difficult poses, we usually we open by sitting in Sukhasana for a few minutes. And then maybe move onto our hands and knees to practice Dog Tilt and Cat Pose. It’s a place for gentle movements. A time to bring awareness to our breath.

The other day at the beginning of class, we were on our hands and knees with a neutral spine (tabletop). The teacher asked us to lift our right arm off the ground and straighten it so it pointed forward. Both of our arms were engaged. The left one pushing the floor away, and the right one reaching for the wall in front of us (in a way where we weren’t scrunching our shoulder blade up to our neck). She had us hold that position. For a long, long time. It was hard. (Don’t believe me? Try it.)

“Some poses can be deceptive,” the teacher said. “Not as easy as they seem.”

I love that about yoga. I love that I don’t need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment or special shoes to build flexibility and strength. I just need my body, my mind, and my spirit.Š

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