Sunday, December 11, 2011
'Tis the Season...to be a (peaceful) Warrior
The holiday season can be gloriously festive with dangling mistletoe, swirling candy canes, glittery ornaments and shopping-induced highs. 'Tis also the season to be challenged in the human relations department. Beyond all the holly and carols, you might bump into other shoppers in crowded lines too many times, and you might clash with the ubiquitous Aunt Cringle at the annual family gathering. Now more than ever, especially while practicing mindfulness with my four-month-old bouncing bundle of joy, I am reminded of how important it is for me to practice yoga in order to navigate one of the hardest challenges of them all - other spiritual beings have a physical experience!
Remember - yoga means union, to yoke. Practicing yoga doesn't necessarily mean 108 sun salutations everyday at 4am, Virabhadrasana III without a fall, or perfectly chanting to Ganesh, although those can all be lovely ways to connect. You can practice yoga by finding a way you can genuinely connect, quiet your mind and be peaceful with your intentions and goals. Yoga might mean walking, dancing, writing, hiking, drawing, mindfully washing dishes or even wrapping presents!
Yesterday morning, as I was finishing up my me-time of breaking a sweat to some booty music followed by some slow flow yoga, I was reminded of the beauty and importance of literally and figuratively practicing particularly the Virabhadrasana [Warrior] poses. With the name like "warrior", one might think a sweaty P90x drill or violently fighting the Taliban, but if you really practice warrior poses as they're meant to be, you discover a beautiful element of balancing ying and yang, sun and moon, left and right, strength and softness. As I let my leg float down from three-legged downward dog and plant into Warrior I, I felt the sense of being grounded, being very strong, yet opening to a sense of grace and softening. A wonderful reminder in how I want to live physically, emotionally and energetically. And, boy, do I need reminding. :)
The grace and softening is the important part. It's easy to get defensive, to dig our heels into the ground, to tighten our jaws, and to spit words of venom. Yet, what about combining strength/assertiveness with grace/love? Try it. Don't be surprised if you surprise someone with peaceful retaliation and compromise. They might take another jab, huff and puff, or come back for more. (Remember good ole Aunt Cringle.) Combine your peace with strength, over and over.
'Tis the season to be a peaceful warrior. Plant your feet firmly, breathe deeply, reach your arms long and softly, soften your jaw while choosing your words wisely, and open your heart carefully and lovingly. Truly, let there be peace on Earth....
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