100 Days of Yoga, Day 13

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September 3, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam

So Much Happiness

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
A wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
Something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
And disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
And now live over a quarry of noise and dust
Cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
It too could wake up filled with possibilities
Of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
And love even the floor which needs to be swept,
The soiled linens and scratched records….

Since there is no place large enough 
To contain so much happiness,
You shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
Into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
For the moon, but continues to hold it, and to share it,
And in that way, be known.

~ Naomi Shihab Nye ~

Dear All, the next topic, which is Pratyahara, is a somewhat complex one, so we’re going to sneak up on it and try to take it down in pieces.  The above poem is the first piece.

PRANAYAMA:  Breath work is so important.  If it does nothing more (which it actually does) than relieve the stress in your life, it has earned its right to be there.

Dr. Andrew Weil preaches the topic frequently.  And for what it’s worth, so do I.  Feeling upset about, say, something totally out of your control.  Wait, that’s a bad example, because isn’t EVERYTHING that happens outside our control?  In fact, isn’t it true that the only thing we have control over is our reaction?  But, for now, let’s stick to an easier example.  So, you’re late for work (not your fault) and due to some amazing bad driving (not your fault) there is a multiple car accident in front of you (really not your fault.)  What do you do?  Swear?  Oh, if only that was the least of it.  Perhaps your blood pressure starts to climb, which gives you a damn headache (not your fault?)  Then your right hand gets away from you and, all on its own, it lays on the horn.  Now your heart is racing, maybe you’ve even broken out into a sweat (not your fault?)  You reach for your cellphone: let’s see, what’s a good lie to tell the boss … Really, you hate lying, but what’s a guy/gal to do, it’s not really your fault, right?

Aside from the obvious thing of not adding stress to your life by being late, what can you do in this situation?  One thing is breath work.  Another possibility is to simply stop all thoughts and focus on your breath (meditate.)  Maybe you could do mantra.  In other words, how you handle this situation is actually in your control.  Until we know better, we do the best we can.  And in this moment, breath work is one of the best things you can do.  Slowly breathe in for a count of ten, retain the breath for a count of three, then slowly exhale for a count of twelve.  Rest in the emptiness of your lungs for a count of two.  Begin again.  While you’re breathing, mentally go to your happy place.  Breathe, breathe, breathe, slowly and deeply.  Allow the breath to move into your neck, your shoulders, down your back … all the way to your toes.  Feel your body relax and release.  Can you imagine how pleasant rush hour traffic would be if everyone was sitting in their car (hopefully car pooling) doing this practice?


As we study Pratyahara, we will begin to understand the importance of balance.  We want to be able to balance our likes/dislikes; our male/female sides; our yin and yang.  As we learned earlier, what we focus on is what flourishes.

I will start by warming up my body in some cat/cow poses and child pose into knee plank (repeating for at least eight rounds.)  I will add some slow, gentle Sun Salutations and, when ready, I will begin with high lunge while holding my hands in prayer position.  From there I will transition into Triangle (for me,with a block) to half moon (again, with block.)  By dropping my opposite hip until I am relatively level, I will move into Warrior III.  From Warrior III, I will come to standing into the classic Vrksasana (another of my favorite poses, and there are many variations.  You may wish to hold the toes of your foot so that you are in a half lotus pose while standing, or you may simple place your foot at your ankle.  Your hands can be in prayer position at your center, or you may wish to bring your arms up into a full expression of the pose — your call.)  From Vrksasana, I will go into Dancer’s Pose, then Standing Split, then Eagle pose.  Don’t forget to work both sides.  I like to start with my weaker side.  Once I’ve done this series at least three times on each side, I will do whatever inversion my body asks for, followed by a twist — perhaps reclined and then, at last … Sivasana.

Yours in deep gratitude, Chris


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