"Krissy: We’re very inspired by our teachers, and we’re always bringing them up, because really, we’d know nothing if it weren’t for their support. In particular, Abbie Galvin and Nevine Michaan really gave us the confidence to even do all this." Check them out at Katonahyoga.com
When I was six, our piano - that island of sitka spruce and yellow birch regally inhabiting a third of our living room and echoing through our entire neighborhood - called to me. It was large and gorgeous, and I wanted the alchemy of it's majesty and the richness of it's sound to be mine. I wanted that big sound to come through me, instead of through my siblings. My first piano teacher told me that I had a good ear, which I assumed meant that, as a six year old, I was already a virtuoso. In reality, I knew nothing of technique or skill, or of refining whatever gifts I had started with. What a buzzkill when I was asked to play, for protracted hours, every scale to "Mary Had a Damn Little Lamb." When would I get to play a Beatles song or Beethoven? My music book, Song's for Tots,had sailboats and stars on it's pages. I was ready for the kind of music my parents took seriously. It took 10 years of scales, repetition, studying theory, and revolting recitals where all the kids were playing "Moonlight Sonata" -- most of them better than me -- to feel as though I had developed any technique at all to finally play Chopin, Debussy, or Bach. At that point, I was ready for college and all I really wanted to play was Joni Mitchell. Even though she wasn't playing classical, for which I was trained, I had technique which allowed me to expand my repertoire. I had formulas and codes, I could sight read, and I had dexterity from hours of practice. I knew how to approach a piece of music. I knew how to read signatures, timing, notes, and rhythm. I had become familiar with the archetypes for playing music, and this is how I was able to grow as a musician.
It is the same with yoga. To use an archetype as a reference is the foundation of a well-informed yoga practice. An archetype can be a number, an animal, a geometric shape, or any pattern in nature like the pattern found in wood, in jade, or in the seasons. An archetype represents an ideal, and an ideal yoga pose has a specific measure, a shape, a fit.
An archetypal dog pose, for example, is a 60 degree triangle, which sets up the conditions for strength, structure, and stability. Lungs and liver come forward while kidneys fully open in the back. Arms are shoulder distance while feet are hip distance and knees are bent, enabling the hips to rise in order to find the zenith of the pose.
Following the formal patterns of a yoga pose puts you in a position to cultivate a deeper physical awareness, as you must override your own propensities and transcend the personal. These techniques are your recipe, your musical score.
Whether it's a dog pose, a warrior pose, or a wheel, real technique provides a template to embody, rather than stretching or feeling our way into a pose, or imitating a teacher who is demonstrating. We can use archetypal technique everywhere in our lives - brushing your teeth so that your teeth won't fall out, making a souffle by recipe that won't collapse, or following a business plan that promotes success rather than mere survival. Having techniques is what it means to develop real skills, which, when faced with a challenging class, will be exhilarating to deploy and use rather than surviving by the seat of your pants.
The effort to embody a physical archetype employs the imagination to achieve a form, the pose at its optimum. By working consciously, we open up a field of experience previously unknown, which in turn helps us grow. For example, all twists require a 180 degree turn to each side, a revolution on a plumb line (axis mundi), and breathing on the side that your head is facing, so that one is flushing a kidney and opening up the opposite lung. By doing the twist formally, you are opening your entire body to the experience, something you don't normally do. If you only go halfway around without completing the 180 turn, you won't get the goodies that referring to the archetypal 180 degrees offers. Opening up a lung is like opening a window, which opens up a vision to see more, smell more, perceive more, and access a new field of imagination for greater capacity and exuberance. In this way, you can participate in your own health. And if you are a musician, you can play with other musicians, or play for grandma, and even alternate between Elton John and Bach.
If one does yoga without a reference (a recipe, pattern, formula, map), the practice is less conscious, measured, and articulated. Your practice will only go as far as your unconscious habits, imagination, and personal effort can take you. I recently attended a yoga class where the well-intentioned teacher instructed us to stretch, reach, have an open mind, and imitate the way she performed. While she demonstrated beautiful poses, we weren't instructed to orient ourselves within any archetype. Much like reading a map, knowing how to orient oneself in time and space helps us understand where we are going, how to go there, and maybe most importantly, why we are traveling there at all.
Often, new students come to class with past injuries and request "modifications" in order to make their efforts less arduous, to allow them to alter the practice, and for the poses to mollify their wound; to their dismay, I tell them that in order to renovate or re-inform whatever is damaged, torn, pulled, or bruised, the trick is to use the piece of the puzzle that popped out with better information so that they can heal. We diminish ourselves by trying to protect what is compromised or injured. Not using our trashed shoulder, knee, hip, or wrist the way it's designed to be used will eventually do us in. If your heart is broken by your last relationship, you don't stop dating, you use the information from your emotional wound to refine your technique. Maybe next time you won't be such an emotional lubber and you might make better contact. In other words, reframe yourself.
Meanwhile, back in the doghouse, in our struggle to conform to this ideal dog pose, we shed the effort that comes with adapting personal style, and instead reference the archetype which tells us where to go. One doesn't alter the practice to fit oneself - one alters oneself to fit the practice. I explain to a student who is in pain from an injury to use a formula to renovate their damaged structure, rather than to use a personal technique that allows them to avoid pain. When we surrender our struggles to the formality of the practice, we are given the opportunity to supercede our personal techniques that damaged our knee or torqued our ankle in the first place. When we shed our investment in the personal, and do poses formally - in referencing an archetype - we can make contact with the universal, gaining insights that weren't available to us before. In this way, we become aware of how to specifically re-direct our efforts to rehabilitate, straighten, correct, and restructure our body's frame. This is the process by which we reinform our organs, glands, bones, and body chemistry to function more efficiently. So that rather than working harder, we work smarter, with techniques that measure up.
This is the work in a yoga pose. A pose is never static, it's dynamic. A pose is a channel for energy to move through you, waking up every fiber of your being. Referencing an ideal pose becomes a therapeutic technique for re-informing a deformed form, for straightening out a crooked wrist, for rehabilitating a torn shoulder. And because the wonky wrist and the torn shoulder house the lungs, by adjusting the shoulder and the wrist, one is actually addressing the function of the lung. So in renovating the wrist and the shoulder (the frame), the stability of the whole person is ultimately altered.
Within our practice, the information found on the right side of your body is pragmatic, while the information found on the left is esoteric. Information found in the territory of lungs (grief, sadness, exuberance, expansiveness) is different from that of the liver (creativity, vision, neurology). If your shoulder hurts, for example, and you know how to rotate that corner so that your collar bone sits properly, you might discover that not only are you using your wrist and collarbone incorrectly, but the lung housed underneath it is being compromised. If you reposition the shoulder, so it works as a real frame, it becomes a better vessel for the lung. Now you are in territory that will give you real information, which can lead to an actual reformation. Doing what feels good or what is painless, when all you have are your feelings, is information that is personal and only referenced from habits and personal damage. If you reference the archetype of a pose rather than your own feelings, your practice has options beyond that which you already know or think you know.
"I'm trying" is often uttered in a yoga class, but rather than working harder at something you are already doing, the first step in getting an insight is giving up the habit of your compensatory skills. If you can let go of your yoga tricks like clenching your butt, using your flexibility, muscling the pose - no easy feat - you'll probably begin to discover that your poses aren't holding up without them. Don't despair. The next step is to use a formula, like a recipe for baking, a score with which to play music, a map to find your way, in order to develop techniques that not only hold up better, but that will promote stability, ability, and imagination.
When we're not getting what we want in our practice, or anything else in life, we are often loathe to find another angle, pierce a new veil, develop a new skill, and re-direct our efforts. The familiarity of how we have always performed our work is often confused with what is correct or safe, when in reality it only perpetuates habits. It often takes profound self-awareness to change the way we practice. Most of us suffer an injury, a crisis, some form of wake-up call before we are willing to alter the way we were trained or to shift away from what comes "naturally".Rather than finding one's way by feeling or intuition or imitation, the skill of orientation tells you where you are and how to redirect yourself so that you can get where you want to go and be who you want to be.
The beauty of a well-informed adjustment allows the practitioner to let go of the investment they have in their personal technique so a different angle, a new direction, or a re-orientation can be found. A good adjustment reorients the structure so one's frame of reference is altered, opening up a possibility for insight, new awareness, or an experience one hasn't anticipated.
Adjusting one's pose allows for the student to renovate, restore, renew and reinform one's life. The purpose of an adjustment rather than an assist is to alter the function of one's interior; stretching the liver properly opens up one's vision, orienting one's lower back so that the kidneys flush allows for one to hear everything that is around them as well as that which is deep inside; opening up the lungs is the hallmark of exuberance; orienting oneself on a spit equidistant from the center allows the stomach to digest properly so that not only food but ideas are processed well, leading to clear rather than obsessive thinking; and by adjusting the position of the heart one articulates feelings appropriately developing kindness through good speech.
Join us for an informative, participatory, fun afternoon of adjusting, re-orienting, renovating, redefining, re-informing your form in the service of well-being!
Many yoga students are appalled when asked to start a yoga class in a pigeon pose.
You may have learned t that before setting up any yoga pose, you should “warm up” with 108 chatarungas, sun salutations or with a good stretch. At Katonah Yoga, we work in the bones and the joints, the structure of the body. The best way to warm up your body is to fold. A pigeon pose establishes your ground of being.
Your ground of being starts from ground zero; the perineum making contact, plugging in and finding the ground. Your legs are the pillars of your perineum.Your right foot is the male root. Your left foot is the female root. Your perineum is like the third foot which is you; the integration of your male and female aspects, your personal ground.
The perineum for women is located between the pubis and anus – it’s the opening of the vagina. The perineum for men is between the coccyx and the genitals. The lower body, your pelvis, is your stability. You can think of your lower body as the foundation of a building or the root of a plant. Your lower bodyt sets up a pattern that all future growth follows. By making contact with your perineum on a surface (the ground) you which you substantiate yourself.
If you were a radio, you would ground your wires in order to move your current (energy). You have to plug in the radio (lower body) before using the dial (the upper body) or setting up the antenna (your head). If you want to change the structureof your body, you can’t build the penthouse without building the foundation first. You have to estblish your ground by descending into your depths in order to ascending to your heights. Why try to turn the radio on before you have plugged it in?
Grounding the lower body in a pigeon pose allows you to orient your selfin time and space. If you set yourself up like a clock then the perineum is the center, the pubis is 12:00, the coccyx is 6:00, the right hip is 3:00 and the left hip is 9:00. By orienting your lower body within a wide circumference, you can find weightlessness in your upper bodies; which is how you get the “yummies “out of the pose.
A pigeon struts around in a backbend, a body lifting off and taking flight. A backbend is the pubis, navel and sternum coming forward and up. Yourfront body is your potential. Your back body is the past. In order to move forward in life, to take flight, you have sets up your memories (the back) to support the future (the front). You don’t change yourself by manipulating the past, or by bending back. Your front body substantiated by your lower body moves you forward into the future.
Therapeutic and spiritual work is often counterintuitive. If we knew how to change ourselves, how to have full lungs, a voluminous heart anda liver that filters, we would have have changed already. We would all be well adjusted, and we wouldn’t need yoga. Realtransformation comes from knowing your own blind spots, opening up a field of awareness that is unknown to you and making choices that contradict your habits. In this way you, the student, become the person who benefits from the poses rather than the poses conforming to whatever already suits you.
By learning the formal practice, you gains an awareness of the personal propensities that keep you from living consciously. Thus to start a practice in a pigeon we emulate the pigeon, a bottom feeding bird, by substantiating our roots. This enables us to embody the avian natureof the pigeon in order to rise above ourselves so that eventually we can all dwell in the field of the imagination, which is the purpose of the pactice.r
In Katonah Yoga, props are used to serve as formal boundaries rather than personal effort. Supported poses afford a moment of peace, engaging in the art of being rather than doing. Scaffolding with blocks, chairs, or poles allows you to let go of your unconscious investment in habit and instead provide a supportive way to inform the body. Your structure is supported for a determined length of time facilitating the body's flow of internal energy. Blankets help give you a ground of being in a pigeon pose so that you can move forward into a back bend and get off of yourself rather than blocks that jack you up. Read more about Katonah Yoga on Abbie Galvin’s blog
I had so much trouble understanding what the point is in going to yoga class when I have flat feet. I mean if there really is a pattern that repeats itself and my true nature is to be "flat "why bother? Why not just stay home sitting in Virasana?
Then I found myself reciting the lyrics from an REM song called '"The Great Beyond' in order to explain to my daughter why she has to study for her Learner's Permit if she wants to learn how to drive. I told her you don't have to study the materials. but you have to have a learner's permit to enroll in Driver's Ed. It's your choice.It's like the lyrics to this song:
"I'm pushing an elephant up the stairs I'm tossing up punch lines that were never there Over my shoulder a piano falls Crashing to the ground
I'm breaking through I'm bending spoons I'm keeping flowers in full bloom I'm looking for answers from the great beyond"
I told her "I see the words and your quandary as sort of the great Yin and Yang of life." There are no easy answers...
And so Abbie Galvin explains: " Flat feet DO change, just as everything else does. The potential to change the wave of your feet and the arches of your body is your potential to change so that you can override your first nature, your genes, your deepest habits, to become the person you want to be. Your feet are always getting pressure from walking and supporting you. They take time... just like everything in life. Your feet have flattened over time and don't change overnight. it takes the repetition of re-educating them. And remember, your body is organic, and not rigid. and everything organic is living tissue: it moves, it is pliant, it has a pattern, and it can be manipulated, reformed, and renovated."
So maybe sometimes it is like pushing an elephant up the stairs, and sometimes a piano may crash," but then you "bend spoons and keep the flowers in bloom."Over time who knows maybe those flat feet will sprout some wings.
From Katonahyoga.com "1 Nov 2013Nevine Michaan & Abbie Galvin When we take a yoga class, we are offered an opportunity to engage with others. Techniques are taught, shared, and practiced within the group. A w...
The magic is in Katonah yoga’s inclusive method in which everyone can learn the practice is to learn the folding and unfolding. You have to learn to fold in and out of each pose as if practicing origami.
Katonah Yoga’s methodology involves a practice of moving into each yoga posture in a specific manner. You learn to fold and unfold from one pose to the next similar to the origami art of paper folding. Each fold has to be correct before you can add another fold. You unfold in order to move to a different variation of the pose. In each pose you have to be in the middle of yourself and not over use one piece of your body.
Unlike the photos the poses are not static. You are constantly reorienting and moving yourself to the middle. You have to be stable to make a fold. To the extent that you cannot find the correct measure in class you learn to use the props to move towards the archetypal poses shown in the photos.
The community is that everyone has their foibles but is learning to get rid of their personal habits that don’t serve them. If you are very flexible and go too deep you can use blocks to create a boundary. If you are very stiff and can’t fold forward or back you can use blankets to give you height. In class you learn to find the right measure and what you need to do learn the form that gives you better function. You learn how to follow a compass and move your body in the right direction.
The goal is to move towards the archetypal poses. You have to learn the technique by practicing over and over, and repeating the patterns until they become your second nature.
Of the patients reporting holding the side plank pose for an average of 1.5 minutes a day on average, patients had a 32% reduction in their primary spinal curve. While surgical studies show 59% improvement yoga has no side effects. What would happen if the patients practiced yoga for 5 minutes a day?
Iyengar and the Invention of Yoga The New Yorker In contemporary yoga classes, teachers often speak of Patanjali's “Yoga Sutras,” a philosophical text compiled around two thousand years ago, as the wellspring of the practice.
Iyengar describes yoga as a “timeless pragmatic science evolved over thousands of years dealing with the physical, moral, mental and spiritual well-being of man as a whole,” He knew from experience the dangers of forcing oneself into poses prematurely, and he set about developing a slower, more anatomically precise type of yoga, using props like blocks and blankets to help students find correct alignment
Sit in Virasana. Put yourself on a spit from the center of the universe from your pubis through the top of your head Go to the back of your head your mind (right- north-west) and a set a goal go up to the universe and ask for grace (north –up) Go to the front of your head (left north east) and give your goal vision spin it south-east and have the willpower and patience to get your goal. What does it take to achieve your goal ?(left north east) Image yourself moving forward to the future. your potential To have a goal you have to have willpower to accomplish it. The goal setting diagonal is willpower. Then go due south and light a fire under your ass. get everybody’s mutual assistance, get insight. get everything and anything you can think of to keep the fire going- get other ideas, get other people to support you. Get underneath yourself and make your effort. Do everything you have to do to add fuel to the fire Then move it back (south-west ) from your tail to your sacrum your stability, your patience. Then keep moving the wheel up due west towards reflection. Image pulling back the bow to shoot the arrow forward. The opposite of reflection is to potentiate forward. Move back up to your goal. The opposite of goal setting is will power. Find your will power know your goal. The opposite of grace is effort up and down. Find the vision on the mountain know that you have to have patience. Find your reflection and potentiate forward. Potentiate forward and reflect back. Light a fire under your ass make your effort. Wait for the grace.Find your patience find a vision of yourself
More on Katonah Yoga's Breathing practice is available on Abbie's blog at Katonahyoganyc.com. Here she moves through the glands; (Hands on knees)Endocrine system, adrenals, to the spleen/pancreas,
In the morning I can grab a cup of coffee and then meditate silently for 20 minutes or so before the anxiety of the day begins and time starts to speed up. One of the best ways to take a break and recharge is with 15 minutes of Pranayama. Here Abbie Galvin discusses the glands of the body using automobile metaphors in such an engaging way that you become completely engaged in the practice. A more in depth explanation of Pranayama is available on Abbie's blog on the Katonah Yoga website.
I practice a form of yoga (Katonah Yoga), whose teachers follow the Taoist belief that people follow different patterns because of the influences permanently imprinted upon them at birth. The philosophy is that patterns are repeated in your physiology and psychology, and that through yoga you can change yourself by finding new patterns that give you better function.
The theory is that in yoga you should move towards archetypal poses with the goal of becoming perfectly balance, and that this process will bring you joy and ultimately bliss. It is through the physical practice that you discover where you fit in the universe. It is a process of struggle rather than a static goal in which you constantly orient yourself towards the archetypical pose by facing and overcoming the influences of your personal experience.
The theory is that it is easier to change your body than your mind and that once you change your physical body the mind will follow. "The goal is to have the capacity to fill your self with joy”. Abbie Galvin (http://bit.ly/ULTZRX) says, “Everybody’s goal is to have a body that is a well functioning container that can hold the elixir of life The goal is to have the structure so that you can now ask yourself how good can my life be? How well can I live?”
I was reminded recently while reading the novel 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami, that in a sense we are all fighting against our own patterns, habits, and defects in order to find a better way to live.
Life is not like math or water: it doesn’t flow in one direction. We all struggle through our own patterns and our own pain to write a story that gives us "meaning."
In 1Q84, one of the characters,Tengo, says:
“'Math is beautiful because it's predictable and totally logical. Math is like water. It has a lot of difficult theories, of course, but its basic logic is very simple. Just as water flows from high to low over the shortest possible distance, figures can only flow in one direction. You just have to keep your eye on them for the route to reveal itself. That’s all it takes. You don’t have to do a thing. Just concentrate your attention and keep your eyes open, and the figures make everything clear to you. In this whole, wide world, the only thing that treats me so kindly is math.”
“Real life is different than math. Things in life don't necessarily flow over the shortest possible route. For me, math is — how should I put it? — math is all too natural. It's like beautiful scenery. It's just there. There's no need to exchange it with anything else. That's why, when I'm doing math, I sometimes feel I'm turning transparent. And that can be scary. ... When I'm writing a story, I use words to transform the surrounding scene into something more natural for me. In other words, I reconstruct it. That way, I can confirm without a doubt that this person known as 'me'”
In yoga as in real life is not like water or math; you have to be conscious to write your own story. You have fight against your natural propensities and habits that keep you from living your own life, to find your true or "second" nature. By practicing yoga you can fight to make your life more like water or math so that it flows in a direction that makes you full and brings you joy.
This week in Abbie Galvin's class we did a sequence which began by going from a seated forward bend to a bent legged plow to a forward bend and repeating the sequence over and over. As you repeat the sequence you build momentum. In the forward bend and the plow the goal is to fold yourself in half so that you make contact: chest to thighs, armpits to knees, hands to feet etc.. Your arms fit tightly along the sides of your body. The goal of the practice is to fold your self so that you make contact. Once you fit yourself (you can fold your body in half) you can find the place in the universe where you fit because that is what your are designed for.
Finally, once you have built momentum by going back and forth, you flip from the plow to Virasana (hero's pose). Virasana is a seated pose in which you are kneeling with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your knees touching. It is a pose that is often used for Pranayama (a breathing practice) and meditation.
While I was in the flip I felt completely free as though I was flying. There was no fear. Unlike the moment before trying to flip my legs up the wall into an inversion or diving into a pool of water when I am overwhelmed with fear I was completely present.
The following day watching the Olympic swimming trials on TV I realized that the flip I had completed on the yoga mat was a "swimmer's flip". My friend Peter who is a swimmer said "Good for you! Now do it in the water!" He is right.
When I started my yoga practice years ago, I lusted after the lotus pose, convinced that the man I was dating would fall in love with me. So impressed, he might even pay attention to me and listen to my deep thoughts about life. As I toiled - as I do - I glanced over (a lot) at my then-boyfriend and saw how effortlessly he slid into the pose, closing his eyes and disappearing into his own reveries, lost to me. He introduced me to all things spiritual, poetic, and esoteric. I was his student, eager for wisdom, insight, and affection. My pursuit of this apparently elevated being's affection fueled my efforts to shove myself into lotus. Instead of leaving me in the throes of knee pain, I would one day join him in his depths and share his experience of enlightenment.
Lotus would deliver me, and make me a legit yogi instead of a homesick college freshman calling home eight days a week.
Alone in my dorm room, I stuffed myself into the pose. I then greased my arms with Vaseline and rammed them through the stubborn gap between my legs, proving I could have perfect posture and be free of diseases. What more could anyone ask of me? I spent every night mastering this feat. One day on the way to weekly yoga class he introduced me to macrobiotic food, explaining that it was a must if I were going to be with him. I wanted to crave soba noodles and have my skin turn grey from this macro diet just like all the skinny girls in class. One weekend, we went to Kripalu for chanting with the Hari Krishnas. I cringed when he couldn't carry a tune, and he embarrassed me by singing louder than everyone else. I come from a family of great singers and good manners; I would be mortified if I sounded like that, but in that moment nothing commanded my attention more than the urgent spiritual work I had to do. I had no idea that the lotus, while worth aspiring to, comes as a result of the achievement of many other postures. All I wanted was to perform my new stunt. But alas, my hopeful audience of one was swallowed whole by the sitar music, and I lost track of him altogether after the first half hour when he'd sidled up to the guru, leaving me in the back with all the other losers, the ones without the right outfit, Sanskrit name, or shaved head. So there I was, going after a lotus for which I had no map and after a man who I pursued with an equally misguided technique. Hours later, I ended up not where I had hoped to be, showing off my lotus to Mr. Macrobiotic, but on a grassy slope near his car so he wouldn't leave without me. And as I sat and waited I had nothing to do but take full measure of this man, The Hari Krishnas, myself, and my greasy lotus. We drove home in silence and the following week he dumped me for a waitress at the Broome Street Bar. So she got him but I got my Lotus.
40 years later I sent my nephew Julian to share Passover with old friends. He reported to me afterwards that he met a man there who captivated him all night. When I hounded Julian for details, he reported that Mr. Macro was fat, twice divorced, and complained to him about his sciatica. If only he still had his lotus.
As much as my lotus ordeal humiliated me and left me hankering for its nectar, it launched my young self on a path to developing an inner life. And as I am prone to beat a dead horse, I stayed with the lotus, even though I didn't have the twelve other poses that should be mastered before it. I had no technique to make my lotus possible. So instead of hog-tying myself, per usual, I began to read Freud, EF Schummacher, and Rob Pirsig, and was soon comforted by the Buddhists, the Hindus, and the Egyptians, who corroborated my need for a solid lotus. These ancients considered the lotus flower a representation of our longing for spiritual enlightenment. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is said to include spells that are able to transform a person into a lotus, thus allowing for resurrection and personal renewal. As myths hold truth, this mythic idea beckoned me. When my hips gave way, and I solidly felt the seat underneath me, this manifested my own renewal. I felt that I had become the lotus. The Hindus describe the flower that emerges out of muddy waters, un-spoilt and pure each morning, as the emblem of possibility for personal transformation. But as students who are developing technique we want to embody it, become it, not just represent it. Of all the yoga postures, the lotus demands the most rigorous technique. And just like every other archetype, it is ours to embody if we come to class, stay on the mat, participate, measure up, develop good boundaries, and fight the depth of our unconscious propensities. It's a life's work. The reason we modern practitioners want to embody the archetype of a lotus, is that we are using our bodies as a conduit to change our lives. The value of a lotus pose is to guarantee that we won't unravel. And as it is my propensity to harp, if your body doesn't unravel, neither will you.When a lotus is measured well, the legs are folded so that they are bound with a central bolt. Your hips, knees, and ankles are cross-referenced so that your pelvis is tied together. Much like a pair of shoelaces, criss-crossed to tie a good knot so that your shoes won't fall off, a lotus bind ties up your pelvis so your hips don't come apart.
Lotus provides a way to tone up your kidneys by building the pelvic floor. A lotus will hold you together. It adds fluency to the hips, demanding a form that flushes energy through ankles, knees, and hip joints, much like a closed electrical circuit functions. And, while at first one fights for the proper form of the bind, the real benefit is the flow, the energy, the currency that moves through your body all bound up. Real freedom is found in confinement. A good lotus will help you address your metabolism (thyroid), flush your toilets (kidneys), adjust your vision (liver), open your windows (lungs), and refine your speech (heart). A pose like lotus is difficult at first ("at first" could mean years) because it demands a certain amount of pliancy in the joints and a measured process of origami pleating in order to fold one's legs in that pretzel-like bind, instead of stuffing yourself in and mistaking a squish for a good fit. Once we've slid in, the lotus makes other poses easier. A headstand or shoulder stand with legs in lotus gives those poses with no folds a surge of power. A cobra with legs in lotus opens the front of your pelvis, yielding a richer backbend and a fuller arch from intestines to lungs. A twist sets up a double helix, flushing kidneys much like squeezing a sponge. In a lotus, the same twist sets up a curve that is exponentially delicious.
And not to worry if you don't have your lotus yet. If you are sitting at a right angle, on your perineum, in your hip joints, in the center of your sphere, you will never need Vaseline.
As we write this post, photographer Anja Humljan has exactly seven minutes left to gather funds on Kickstarter for her project "Urban Yoga." She needn't hustle though, because she's already reached her goal; in fact, she's $1,524 past her $...
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