Many yogis, I'm no exception, seek ninja-like agility and ultimate core control. We dream of taking handstand and transitioning to firefly through an atmosphere of molasses.
Ok, enough with the imagery. Let's get to basics. Nothing is as important as alignment and core. And, you're never going to find stability in arm balances and inversions without continually fine-tuning your ability on two feet. So, let's start with triangle.
Begin with a wide stance and arms extended. Pivot your front foot forward so that your heel bisects the arch of your back foot. Keep your arms firm as your reach far forward, then tilt your arms to become perpendicular to the ground.
Develop into this pose by pulling your bottom hip forward and top hip back. Engage your inner thighs and pull your top ribs back in if they've popped out. Retracting flared-out top ribs will extend your spine, stabilize your core, and create a stronger line of energy from your hips through the crown of your head.
I've found that Triangle and it's cousin Extended Side Angle pose build the core strength necessary to find more advanced postures. Plus, this pose will help you look better naked. No joke.
Ultimately, success in your body or mind is only found through strong fundamentals. So, stop reading and get to your mat.
My dog, Niko, is a little bit awkward with other dogs - or so we thought.
Niko absolutely adores people, all people! But, he came from a shelter with this label of "dog aggressive." I never liked having a label on my sweet, cuddly, human-loving pup. But, truthfully, with dogs he's always seemed timid. And, because he's a pitbull-boxer mix, I've always been nervous to drop the leash, knowing that if there was an altercation, even if he didn't start it, my dog would be the dog found at fault.
So, when I injured my back (all is clear now) last week, we had to find some activity that was lower intensity. My boyfriend suggested we go to the dog beach. I was so excited about the idea, but also curious and a little nervous to see how Niko would do with all the other dogs.
When we got to the Dog Beach it was full of happy dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds. We kept Niko on the leash. He whined. He cowered behind us. Tim and I walked around for a full two hours just to build his confidence. Then, Tim said, "Let's just walk him in and sit in the middle. I bet he'll be fine."
That's what we did. We walked Niko to the middle of the group and just sat. Dogs walked up and sniffed and walked away. Some dogs dipped their heads low and wagged their tails high, looking mischievous, asking Niko to play. Niko's tension began to disappear. Then, something incredible happened. I just dropped the leash. Niko came alive. His confidence soared. At first he trotted around, head held high. Then, he actually PLAYED with other dogs. When littler dogs nipped at him or bigger dogs intimidated him, he just barked back and walked away. Niko was a dog. He fell into the social norms easily. Of course, Tim and I were still nervous, cautiously anticipating his moves. But, he was fine!
If, dogs can be themselves when we stop putting labels on them, I wonder if humans might be the same. I'm a yogi. I'm a marketing professional. I'm a worker. I'm a boss. I'm fat. I'm skinny. What molds do you force yourself in? Even if it seems positive, a label is a label. It influences your behavior.
To preserve my authenticity, from now on, I'm not anything. But, if I must "be" something, I'm a dog. I balk at labels. I live in the moment. I am totally adaptable. I'm me.
In the last month as certain fitness industry titan failed and failed miserably. The almighty Lulu sold out to cheap imitation materials and hoped no one would notice. But, we did. (Well, it's hard not to notice when everyone's crack is showing in downward dog.) So, this got me to thinking of some sage advice that might not be so sage, "fake it till you make it." Is faking it or "looking the part" really going to get you any further than the front door? Probably not.
Yoga, like the office, is a practice. Some days are good and some days are bad. But, if all you are is someone that looks good in a suit (or in a pair of see-through stretchy pants) you're bound to be found out. You have to come to the mat, or desk, or computer, or podium, every day and do your best for that day. The hard days are when change occurs. The easy, breezy days are there to remind you why you got into this in the first place. And, as for looking the part, when you have it - REALLY have it - no one gives a hoot about your pants.
Sweet places my writing has been featured ...
Bend Into Shape
For people who love dogs, yoga, good food and/or great parties ... that covers everyone right?