Summoning Spirit

I found a technique for connecting to my spirit that takes advantage of my tendency to be stuck in thinking. I start by doing the opposite–conjuring up things I find delight in:

 


My family: both the people…


…and furballs


Where I live


Penguins (naturally)


Being out in nature

And my amazing partner, soulmate, and love of my life

Next, I take the love I feel when thinking about these parts of my life and begin to breathe and wash those feelings into my body. I connect the memories in my mind to the feeling they create in my body. It feels warm, comforting, and peaceful.

Is it as easy or as automatic as going immediately into self-criticism and fear? No. But this is where the practice part comes in. The more I practice connecting to spirit instead of the usual crap, the easier it will become.

Statues are for marble

“A pose without spirit is a statue”–Ana Forrest

How many times have you been in yoga class just hanging out in a pose, wondering when you will move to the next pose or how many minutes are left in class? When you’re going through life, do you feel like you’re going through the motions? Merely surviving instead of truly living?

I love this quote because it reminds me I don’t want to be a statue. Even if my spirit feels buried, I can re-connect to my breath and know that’s the first step to inviting my spirit and spark back in.

Image credit: 29cm

Ana Forrest Intensives: Day 4: What will you fill up with?

My cold took a turn for the worst so I’m a bit delayed in getting my intensives reports up, but look for more soon!

Day 4’s theme was breathing in the kind of energy you want to have in your life. When you do such deep work in the yoga practice, you clear out congested areas and open up some tight spots. So once you’ve created this new space in the body, “What will you fill up with?,” Ana asked. “Instead of filling up with the same old garbage, can you focus on taking in the kind of energy you want to have running through your body?”

Anyone that’s left yoga class feeling blissed out and wonderfully relaxed only to get into traffic and begin hollering four letter words at other drivers (ahem) knows of this phenomenon. It’s wonderful to go to yoga and get rid of all that built up stress and tension, but it’s only too easy to immediately go back into self-deprecation and our habitual patterns and reactions. What makes the practice truly transformative is to take this openness and start to change what we put back into our mind and body.

If Ana had just left it at that, it’d be a nice idea, but not one that was very achievable. Despite the greatest of intentions, how do you just stop habitual responses and start new ones? That’s why I like that Ana not only set this challenge but also gave suggestions and invited us to think what gives us the kind of juicy energy that we can feel supporting us in our intention. Ana related that one way she taps into this energy recalling the love she has for her partner and letting that wash through her with the breath. Another assistant shared that grounding through hands and feet in downward dog helped remind her that no matter what she does, she is never alone. These are just a few examples of ways you might start to connect to the energy of your spirit.

The practice was rough for me as I was really struggling with feeling physically sick.  As Ana set intention, the only thing I felt myself filling up with was more snot and phlegm. It was an ongoing battle for me to try to re-direct my attention away from feeling sorry for myself/deprecating myself for being sick. It helped me to re-direct when I connected to all the support I had around me, from my caring friends in the room to the compassionate assists from Ana and her team.

Our apex poses of the day were some inversion work with partners, exploring splits in forearm balance and handstand straddle, helping our partner to pike up and down in the straddle. We also played with assisting our partner from bakasana up into handstand. Inversions are not my favorite and even though I’ve practiced assists in the middle of the room many times, it still brings up fear for me, especially amidst a crowded sweaty room. I was so grateful to have a wonderful partner that helped me feel safe and accepted, regardless of how awkward my spotting or inverting might be.

While I was drawing on all this support, it never occurred to me that I might be providing the same for another person. After class, I got a text message from the wonderful Abbie who related that this class was rough for her too, but, “I saw you in head to ankle and the last pose and it kept me going.” I was surprised and also touched. Now I have another technique for reconnecting: knowing that the focus and intention of wanting to bring this brightening energy into a pose can also help another person around me. You never know who your spirit might touch and fill another.

Image credit: Earth Rainbow Network