Advice from a Rabbit (On the Way to Being Real)
I just finished unloading my books from an old relic of a bookshelf onto a new bookshelf, and came across a book that my mom gave me years ago but I never read - The Velveteen Principles, A Guide to Becoming Real by Toni Raiten-S'Antonio. In it are nuggets of wisdom to our own self-realization. Practical advice abounds in this book. When we stray from our "realness" all kinds of maybe not so good adventures await us and it takes much practice (i.e. time and discipline) to return. Yoga fits into a practice that is a tool to becoming Real again. However, let's talk rabbits, specifically Principle #3 Real is Emotional.
How truly are we in touch with our feelings? Do we brush them off, bury them deep down, or even recognize what they are? Even our upbringing can dictate our future awareness of our feelings. My own familial experience was that my mom when asked how she was, would always give the answer of her daily activities. "We went to breakfast, the store, then stopped by the ...", was a typical response. I was always glad to hear of how she was moving around but I really wanted to know how she was, how her heart was. It may be typical of her generation to not talk about feelings as the focus was always on others. I grew up in this environment. So I didn't acquire the vocabulary of feelings. Sure, I had words like "I feel good", or "I feel okay", or even "I feel sad that such and such happened". They weren't words that accurately captured my true feelings.
The Principle #3 Real is Emotional section includes a list of words to try using in your daily journal. Here is the list. Look it over and notice if there are even emotion words there that you don't use often or never have used. Keep this list handy as you record your own feelings, using any word that fits your day, your mood, your heart.
It may seem silly at first or even conjectured but you are developing self-empathy which will eventually extend empathy to others. You will have a better understanding of the depth of your own self, then others.
Props: blankets, including one for warmth, stuffed animals or eye bags for hands
Benefits: gently stretches the lumbar spine and para spinal muscles, and gives a release in the diaphragm, quiets the mind and comforting. Gives a sense of security.
2 bolster fold blanket placed lengthwise on mat on top of each other. One blanket at end of mat for ankle support. Make roll for ankle support. Rest of that blanket fills in gap where shin does not meet the floor. Make sure no blanket is on knee. This supports the knee in the pose. Top bolster folded blanket roll towards you in a wider roll to fit in chest and shoulder area. One more blanket folded so that its height is the same as the two bolster folded blankets. Come to all fours straddling the props, release to forearms and then fully recline on props. Ankles rest on small roll at end of mat, shins supported by the rest of that blanket. Rest the rest of your body at hip crease on the bolster fold blankets and lay chest on wider roll of top blanket. Head rests on additional blanket at top, turned to the side. Arms come out to the sides, releasing shoulders down the back and away from the ears. Placing an eye pillow or stuffed animal in palms as they face floor is very grounding and comfortable. Additional blankets for pillows tucked in as needed with student to create boundaries or make more comfortable.
New Version includes laying tops of ankles over padded blocks for further draining of the legs.
Props: 2 blocks, 3 blankets, neck roll and other support
Benefits: reduces fatigue, reduces swelling in the legs and feet, soothes the nerves and eases mental agitation. Great for after a long day on your feet.
Place two blocks medium height at end of your mat, roll a blanket smoothly and place over blocks. Two bolster folded blankets are in front of blocks stacked on top of each other. Use a neck roll and eye pillow and any additional blankets for comfort and grounding. Can add a blanket to lower legs.
Props: bolster, 2-4 blocks, 4 blankets, neck roll, eye pillow
Extras: blanket for warmth
Benefits: Allows breath to come in to the rib cage and belly more freely. Detoxifying. Can reduce high blood pressure. Relieves fatigue and insomnia. Safe for a Prenatal twist.
This can be a very prop intensive pose but once you are in it, it is worth it. Begin with right side of body, place the bottom of your right foot against the wall with leg extended. Left leg is bent at a 90 deg. angle and propped up with two blocks and a bolster with maybe a blanket on top. at least two blankets, S-fold blankets, and/or pillows placed along spine for support, lengthwise. Extend your left arm out to the left side and lay it on a smaller stack of blankets either s-fold or triple-fold out to your side. Right arm extends out to the right. This means the left arm is at a higher elevation than right. Head can remain neutral to ceiling or turn to one side. Extra blankets can be placed in spaces that need more support. Neck roll for cervical spine and eye pillow.
*we are digging placing the arms in Goddess pose (not pictured) so try that one out as well. Place blanket support under arms.
Labels: Elevated legs Basic Savasana, Reclined Twist Pose, Surfboard Pose