by guest blogger Holly Walck Kostura, certified Iyengar Yoga teacher
I'm currently in between homes and staying at a friend's cabin buried deep within the woods. The other night, this snake (nonvenomous, a milk snake) landed on my head when I opened my front door.
It took a few moments for me to realize that it was, in fact, a snake. After I realized it was a snake, I experienced three of the yoga kleshas (causes of suffering) back-to-back: fear (Is it going to bite me?), aversion (Ew, yuck, it touched me!), and then ego (How embarrassing! Why me?). It took almost an hour for my brain to stop replaying the incident.
Fast-forward two days and I'm sitting by Monocacy Creek watching the baby geese with their parents. I take a few steps toward the water to get a closer look at the darling buds of May and almost step on... a snake! Oh, wait, I thought, that isn't a snake, that's a rope.
Almost immediately I heard the following mantra run through my consciousness:
Lead us from the unreal to the Real,
from darkness to light,
from death to immortality.
OM. Peace. Peace. Peace.
This invocation from The Upanishads, the text that shares the yogic wisdom of the forest-dwelling sages of ancient India, is a personal favorite of mine because it encompasses the prerequisites, the teachings, and the benefits of yoga practice in one seamless whole. Those of us called to practice yoga, either consciously or unconsciously, do so to remind ourselves what is "Real."
When we're identifying solely with the temporary experience of the body/mind (aka "the rope"), we are absorbed in the "unReal" and separated from the joy that is inherent to our human condition: the Real wisdom of the blissful soul (aka "the snake").
The following sequence is designed to enhance your mental clarity and emotional stability.
- Sun Salutations--to begin the process of blending your body, mind, breath, and senses into a homogenous whole.
- Core Work--to integrate your arms and legs to your spine.
- Balancing Poses--to sharpen your awareness of the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.
- Inversions--for mental purity and emotional stability.
- Sun Salutation A & B (Surya Namaskar A & B)
- Upward Extended Feet Pose (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana, or UPP)
- Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose I & II (Supta Padangusthasana I & II)
- Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
- Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose I & II (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, or UHP, I & II)
- Garland Pose (Malasana) or One-Legged Garland Pose (Eka Pada Malasana)
- Crow Pose (Bakasana)
- Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
- Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
- Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) into Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Upward Extended Feet Pose (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana, or UPP)
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose I & II (Supta Padangusthasana I & II)
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose I & II (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, or UHP, I & II)
Garland Pose (Malasana) or One-Legged Garland Pose (Eka Pada Malasana)
Crow Pose (Bakasana)
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Supported Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) into Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
OM. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.
Holly Walck Kostura uses the healing practices of Ayurveda and Iyengar Yoga to secure her to the core of her being. Combining her bachelor's degree in nursing with her certification in Iyengar Yoga gives her the ability to approach her students from a place of wholeness and infuse her yoga classes with a unique flavor. Find her online at yogawithholly.com.
For more from Maria Rodale, visit www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com