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Lauren Cahn

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Obam-asana: Three Essential Yoga Poses for Michelle Obama

Posted: 06/24/08 05:15 PM ET

I don't care what "they" say about Michelle Obama.

It matters not one iota to me whatever she might have said or not said in that church in a moment of passionate point-making, whatever she might have meant in her now-infamous and oft-quoted line about how she is " really proud" of her country (or, rather, as she has clarified, her country's engagement in the political process), whatever her jewel-toned, sleeveless Jackie O-shift might have cost (she earned the money to pay for it, besides) or whatever junk food she chooses to feed her kids for lunch (confession: Kraft Lunchables are THIS writer-mom's best friend; alas, Michelle has switched her daughters from the Box O' Food to unprocessed food, and so we no longer have that in common).

THAT said, it seems that an awful lot of people do care very much about everything Michelle says and does. And although her husband would like the world to "lay off" of his family, I think it's safe to assume: it just aint gonna happen. For better or for worse, it appears that Michelle Obama will remain a lightening rod for her husband's fans and for her husband's detractors, as well as for just about anyone else with access to the internet , or who doesn't live under a rock.

Now, it's all well and good for Michelle to appear on The View and present herself as a hip, approachable, fist-bumping (totally acceptable greeting/affirmation, by the way, one which I learned from my two pre-teen boys, who are totally not terrorists), hard-working, caring-but-mellow mom wearing a smart but budget-minded, black and white (sly wink) sun-dress purchased from White House / Black Market (geddit? geddit?!), and to quietly bask in Barbara Walters' reading from a New York Times article in which Michelle is said to be looking for a "new introduction" with an eye toward "softening" her reputation.

Basking does equal consent, right?

The thing is, if Michelle truly wants to renegotiate her relationship with the American voter, presenting herself credibly as a warm, approachable, hard-working soccer-mom slash politician's wife, who identifies herself first and foremost as a proud member of Club America, then it's going to take something more than a wardrobe tweak and an exchange of polite but entirely boundary-drawing dialogue with conservative chirpster, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

Michelle Obama, I'm here to tell you:
the changes are going to have to come from within.

And I can think of no better way to set about softening the inside in order to project a softer outside than by practicing yoga. In yoga practice, we assume various shapes with the body, and by doing so, we impart the essential qualities of those shapes into our bodies. Those qualities are felt by the body on a visceral level, over time becoming part of our essence.

Of course, I understand that as a candidate's wife and busy mom, you have precious little time to spare these days, and certainly not enough time for a full-on yoga practice. For this reason, I have personally devised for you, a simple, short-form yoga routine that will encourage the inner changes that will support the outward image you apparently desire to project. It is so short-form, in fact, that it consists of only three postures: Warrior, Backbend and Headstand.

1. Warrior Pose

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Specifically, Michelle, you should practice what is known as "Warrior I", in which the feet are firmly grounded on the earth, one pointing forward, the other anchored laterally, and the arms are raised overhead with the palms pressed together as if in prayer (or alternatively, as if wielding a sword high above the head, without aiming it at anyone or anything).

That's me in the photo, by the way, demonstrating it for you.

Warrior I imbues us with a sense of calm assertiveness. There is no aggression, only strength and confidence. By taking the stance of this Warrior, you will reach high but remain grounded, and you will remind yourself that there is no need to take aim at your opponents; instead, you will become the embodiment of grace under pressure. In addition, because the heart is lifting up in Warrior Pose, you will practice opening your heart and allowing yourself to become vulnerable without fear.

2. Backbend


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Speaking of being vulnerable without fear, there is nothing like the "full wheel" version of backbend to instruct us on how to become softer, more open, more approachable.

As members of the animal kingdom, we know, instinctively, that presenting ourselves belly-side-up puts us in danger. But when we practice the "full wheel" backbend, we do exactly that: we expose that soft underbelly, albeit on the safety of the yoga mat. By practicing the "full wheel" backbend (as I am in the photo), you will be able to safely rehearse the process of exposing your soft side, Michelle, and allowing your heart to ascend higher than your head.

Plus, back bending can be really exhilarating and stimulating. So, you can always use it to perk yourself up when your campaign responsibilities begin to weigh you down, physically, emotionally or spiritually.


3. Headstand


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Here in headstand is another opportunity for the heart to rise higher than the head. It is also an opportunity for a tall girl like you to have your head on the same level as a short girl like me. But far more significant is the simple fact that when you stand on your head, you are upside down (like me in the photo). Physically speaking, when you're upside down, the blood is drawn toward the head, stimulating the "crown chakra" as well as the central nervous system. This, in turn, enhances clarity, empathy and a sense of calm.

Metaphorically speaking, when you are upside down, you see things from an entirely different perspective.

For that reason, Michelle, the benefits to you of practicing headstand cannot be overemphasized. If you wish for the world to see you differently, then I recommend that you experience seeing the world differently, yourself. Practicing headstand will help you do just that.

Open your eyes when you're standing on your head, and everything will look different. When you come off the mat, you can't help but retain the experience of having seen the world upside down. And once you've seen the world upside down, you realize that the obvious is not obvious and the impossible might actually be possible. If you want a new introduction to the voting public, then let them meet a woman who has seen the world upside down.

When you practice this Three-Pose Yoga sequence, things will shift in wonderful ways. I can promise you that. You won't have to try to make it so. It will just happen. That's the way yoga works. You can intend for it to help you to make changes, or you can be ignorant of the changes that it can help you to make.

Either way, it happens.

It will happen.

And you will get your re-introduction.

See you on the mat!


 

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