Good afternoon, yin friends!
I hope you are having a wonderful week. Today I wanted to continue in The Four Agreements series with a yin sequence themed for the second agreement…
Don’t take anything personally.
This one is a lost art in our society. With the age of technology, we have become quick to assume, to think, and to act. We are offended by views and behaviors that differ from our own. We say we are “tolerant” when we still continue to be put off when someone disagrees with us. In the book The Four Agreements, the author discusses how each person is the main character in the story of their life, therefore what other people say and do is almost always going to be a reflection of what is happening within their own lives. So whether you receive a compliment from a friend or slander from a co-worker – don’t take it personally. What we speak to others is a reflection of what’s happening on the inside. That, of course, is not always a bad thing – but it’s important that we don’t take things personally so nothing but the Truth can effect our sense of worthiness and acceptance. People change and opinions shift – if we lean on others for our worth we will be very confused when it comes to our identity. You determine how you react and you decide what you believe and therefore who you are. This week in my classes, I have focused on this quote from Wayne Dyer as a sort of mantra to help us bring this agreement to life –
The way you feel about yourself is totally up to you. The way you move on from a hurtful comment is up to you. You can take it personally and carry it with you. Or you can remember the TRUTH about who you are. No one can change that (except you) and you can move on without the weight of that burden. In a different light, if you let compliments become a part of your identity and soak them into your ego, you will walk around loving only yourself, rather than sharing love with others (which is the only way true love works – in community). Today as you practice, we will be moving through poses that stimulate the solar plexus chakra (located in the navel area). This is the part of our body that is foundational in our reactions. When you are taking something personally, it often hits you in the form of an anxious feeling in your gut before it takes up residence in your mind. As you feel space and openness being created in that region, allow yourself to come back to the truth about you. Cultivate thoughts and beliefs about yourself based on what is true, not what other people say or do.
Belly (5 min) – We will start our practice a little less conventionally today on the belly. Make your way to your stomach if it’s comfortable for you. You can place your head onto stacked hands or rest your arms at the side and turn the head one way for the first couple minutes and the other way the last couple. Alternatively, if you need to modify – come to a childs pose.
Rest here for a few moments allowing your mind to arrive into the space you’re in. Notice the air, the sounds, the feeling of being grounded and secure – connected to the core of your body as your belly expands and presses into the floor. Consider in this first pose an intention. Maybe coming back to the simple mantra – “I am in control of what’s happening inside”
Half Frog (2 min) – Turn your gaze to the left and draw your left knee up the floor toward the elbow. Breathe for a couple of minutes here and focus your attention on the low back/hip as well as the space your belly has to expand into. Noticing that openness in the left side of the torso now with it being slightly elevated.
Supine Twist (5 min) – Stretch your right arm overhead and begin to press into your left hand so you can come onto the side body with the left knee still out in front of you. Transition your chest open toward the ceiling slowly on an exhale, moving into a spinal twist.
Counter Pose: Criss Cross Arm Release – Come back to the belly and thread the left arm behind the right resting your head toward the floor for a few moments. Take about a minute here to release into that space in the shoulder and chest.
repeat half frog – criss cross arms on other side
Sphinx (3 min) – From your twist, roll onto your belly and face the front of the mat once more. Take a moment on the belly to observe and relax and then begin to make your way to the forearms coming into sphinx pose. The elbows will be underneath or just beyond the shoulders as for alignment. You shouldn’t feel like you’re going to face plant, so allow yourself to find a place where you can lengthen the spine. Your head can stay lifted and active or relax it down to a block or to hang mid-air. Relax the glutes and breathe here.
Childs Pose (3 min) – Drop the hips back to the heels and allow the chest to rest onto the thighs. You can stretch the arms overhead or just keep them at the sides toward the feet. Take a few moments here to observe any shift in your body and mind from the first few postures. (I have a block under my chest here for extra support).
Cat/Cow (1 min) – Come into a table top position and begin to move through a few rounds of cat and cow. Inhales bringing your gaze forward, tailbone high and exhales allowing you to round the spine toward the ceiling and relax the weight of the head. Continue to wiggle through these and any other shapes that are calling out to you.
Side Body Stretch w/Leg Back (2 min) – From a neutral table top position, stretch your left leg to the back of the mat and over to the right so you feel a stretch in the outer left hip. You can also walk the hands to the right to deepen the stretch in the side body. Press into the heel here and relax your head.
Lizard (4 min) – From your leg stretch, bring your left foot to the outer left hand and slowly begin to relax your hips down and forward. Take this pose very slowly and avoid rushing deeper quickly. The slower you can move into the posture, the more benefits you will find. (photo above)
Pigeon (5 min) – From lizard, begin to walk to left foot over to the right side of the mat and set the shin down. You can tuck the heel of the foot in closer to the hips to alleviate the intensity here. Utilize your props as necessary (perhaps a blanket under the right hip if there’s space there). Stretch the right leg back and let the front of the right hip sink into the floor/prop. Alternatively, you can take your deer pose (2nd photo) by drawing the right knee up toward the left foot. The right hip will stay slightly elevated in this variation. Allow your body to begin to melt forward, but take your time. Pause in the intensity and breathe. When the sensations quiet down a bit, then go deeper. You have time here – so utilize it and do not rush.
Counter pose: Modified Wild Thing – From pigeon come back to the extended leg stretch and take the bent knee’s foot over to the right as well. Pressing into your right hand, lift your left arm and open the chest up. Take a few breaths here.
repeat side body stretch – pigeon on other side
Forward Fold (5 min) – Transition to a seated position with legs straight out in front of you, locate a firm seat (using a blanket under the hips if your low back is strained in any way). Breathe a few breaths into the spine from an upright position and then take a few breaths to lower you forward. I like to use a bolster under my chest or block under my head (sometimes both!), so get creative with props and find a place to land here.
Block Down Spine (9 min) – Breathe deeply and consistently while in these variations to create space between the vertebrae. There should be no sharp pain so if you need to keep the blocks at the lowest level or use a blanket to alleviate pain – do so! Whatever leg variation you prefer is fine here. I feel best when my knees are supported so that’s what I did. You can also keep the knees bent with feet to the earth, legs extended straight, butterfly, etc.
- 3 min – Upper back w/block vertically placed between shoulder blades
- 3 min – Middle back with block horizontally placed at tips of shoulder blades
- 3 min – Low back (sacrum)/Supported Bridge Pose
Savasana (7 min) – Find a place where you can simply rest into the new space you’ve created in your body. Rest here for several minutes and then close by gentle coming back to a seated position, and thank yourself for the practice you took the time to explore in your body and mind!