Opening Up Within The Container

The yoga challenge is going well.  Considering that it is April.  There is something about this time of year and the change in season.  A much stronger Yang energy begins to surface.  An energy that has been dormant all winter.  Maybe not as much dormant, but pulling in and processing and preparing for the upcoming spring and summer up ahead.  When this Yang energy begins to push out of us, we begin to become much more active in every way.  If we were farmers, we would be out tilling and preparing the land.  But in this day and age, most of us are not living as farmers and so we must till and prepare ourselves for upcoming life.  I think that is why in the five years I have been doing the yoga challenge I feel like a barely make the goal every year.  So much life stuff starts to surface that I have a hard time keeping up.  This is exciting and should never be stressful.  This is life, and this is life in the 21st century.

The focus of this post is to explore the use of props and why they can help our yoga practice.  Even if you don’t think you need a block, a strap, or a bolster.  I have discovered that props form a proper container.  If we are completely supported, we can more efficiently open up into a pose and be able to feel the alignment of the shape and not the strain.  Yoga is hard there is no doubt, but it should not be exactly painful.  Uncomfortable..yes, but not painful.  In a simple standing pose we can use a block and it doesnt necessarily feel like a container, but it gives proper range.  Even in a simple pose like Uttanasana, or Forward Bend.  Just having a block to push down on will allow the spine to open up and unfurl.  Instead of the focus of getting the legs straight and touching the ground.  The goal of yoga is to connect with your body, mind, and soul.  Not to push hard into a space and shape that our bodies are not ready for.  I think sometimes in our society we think that using props is either like cheating, or we need them because we are not as advanced in our yoga practice.  I have come to understand that honoring our bodies and each aspect of where they are is an invaluable and humbling lesson.  Dedication and devotion to practice and practice daily is where the advanced yogi begins to evolve.

In a pose like Uttitha Hasta Padangusthasana, or Extended Hand to Toe Pose a strap is the perfect tool.  Using a strap to hook onto the big toe and allow your leg to sweep out straight or swing out to the side straight feels amazing. You can do this either lying down or standing.  You can control the tension of the strap and move into the open feeling in the legs and hips.  You can move into the full pose, whereas if you were without a strap, you would be limited as to how far your body would open up and then the discomfort of possibly pushing to hard into the pose.  This allows for the gentle push of opening up inside your container.  A container provides safety in opening up into vulnerability.  Allow your props to help you form your container.  Not to mention the fact that it feels great!

Here’s to the last 10 days of the challenge!  I am ten classes in and hope to finish with 10 classes to go!  Happy April and Happy Spring!

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