news + musings

Updates, special classes, guest teaching and musings

removing obstacles: strengthen your wrists, ankles + resolve

Y’all. We’re 10 weeks into 2018. Let me guess – you set an intention for the year, you’ve made a bunch of changes that were way easier than you thought they would be, and now life is a constant parade of puppies and rainbows!

If this really happened to you, mazal tov. But I’m guessing that for a whole bunch of us, every week has thrown a rusty wrench into the works, or we’ve had to recalibrate our expectations, or we’ve given up, because it just feels too hard right now.

Enter Ganesha – remover of obstacles, and god of new beginnings:

Pic taken by my kid sis in Mauritius

Pic taken by my kid sis in Mauritius

A little background according to Hindu legend – Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, and yup, human body, elephant head, due to having his regular human head cut off during a disagreement with Shiva when he was a teenager. Being decapitated sounds like the end of a story, but Ganesha’s new, huge head serves him well – there’s a lot of room to think and dream big, large ears to listen carefully with (before speaking!), and a trunk, which the internet tells me can pick up things as small as a blade of grass and as heavy as 1000 lbs.

When we invoke Ganesha in our practice, through mudra or elephant trunk pose or by chanting Om Gan Ganapataye Namaha (listen to a couple of my favorite recordings here), we're not really asking Ganesha to ride over on his rat (though that is how he gets around; it’s next to his left foot in the photo) and stomp through our obstacles, clearing our paths for us. Here's what I hope we’re setting as an intention:

May I be wise enough to seek and receive help.

May I clearly see the obstacles on my path, and those that can help me through them.

May I use my creativity to move around them, chip away at them, and use them as springboards.

May I embody the spirit of Ganesha, and offer my strength to others.

We can use the ritual of meditation and chanting to give ourselves a break, to acknowledge that we are tired and ready to receive help from others. But then we must do the active work of figuring out who to ask and what to ask for, or what small steps we can make to move through the obstacles on our path. Because if we are all made of the same universal consciousness, then we must remember that the forces in our lives that appear much bigger than ourselves are actually made of the same stuff – people power – as us.

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If you’re feeling that wrist tenderness and/or ankle instability is an obstacle that keeps you from coming to your mat to create these sacred, strengthening pauses, you gotta come to my workshop next weekend: Conditioning for Your Wrists and Ankles at Blue Heron Wellness in Silver Spring, Sat. Mar 17, 2 - 4 p.m. 

If you are going to have the stamina for long holds and repetitions of vinyasas, warriors, down dogs, and planks (or marching in the streets or running), your hands and feet need to be in tip-top shape. In this workshop, you’ll learn specific exercises that target tissues in your wrists and ankles that you need to be mobile and stable if you are using yoga as your primary movement practice or ever want to progress towards wheel, crow, and handstand - poses that ask your wrists to hold you while in extension. All attendees will receive a handout to help make these exercises a regular part of your home practice or pre-class warm-up. FWIW, I didn't think I had weak wrists/ankles, but doing these exercises has made me feel much more stable in my handstands and stronger in my vinyasa hops – so it’s truly for everyone! Can’t make it this weekend? Email me at emily.star.yoga@gmail.com and you’ll be the first to know when I’m offering it again, or we can set up a time to work one-on-one.

eka hasta bhujasana / elephant trunk pose - not for the faint of wrist extension.   see the progression towards it here (and feel free to facebook friend me!)

eka hasta bhujasana / elephant trunk pose - not for the faint of wrist extension.

see the progression towards it here (and feel free to facebook friend me!)