What It Means To Be Advanced
A few years ago, I was approached by a photographer who wanted to work with me. In preparation for our shoot, I was presented with a portfolio of postures to consider. As I swiped through my options, I had no choice but to respond with, “Nope, can’t do that one. And, nope, can’t do that one either.”
Self-Adjustments: Ankle-to-Knee Pose
Ankle-to-Knee Pose (Double Pigeon/Firelog) has always been an effective hip-opener for my body. I typically work with some degree of tension in my hips due to compensatory patterns from muscle weakness and what I suspect are some structural variations. It’s definitely not an easy pose for me, even after almost twenty years of practice, but it has has taught me so much about acceptance, patience, and compassion.
Headstand: A Practice
Sirsasana, or Headstand, is a perpetual work in progress for me. I’ve made peace with this for two reasons. First, and most importantly, everything in life is a work in progress. And second, I’m not driven by a desire to do Sirsasana, or really any other pose for that matter. I want to understand it.
Change Your Lens
There’s a fantastic sutra in the first pada, or chapter, of the Yoga Sutras in which Patanjali suggests that steadiness of mind can be found by contemplating an enlightened soul. Georg Feurstein elaborates: “Or [restriction is achieved when] consciousness is directed to [those beings who] have conquered attachment” (The Yoga-Sūtra of Patañjali). Truth be told, I’ve never really found this sutra to be especially useful in my life, and here’s why: I don’t know anyone who’s enlightened, at least not personally. Do you?
Creating A Home Altar
I have a special place in my home devoted to my spiritual practice. My altar includes photos of my teachers (yoga and family) and some objects that inspire me: statues of Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance, and Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, some rocks, crystals, and trinkets I’ve collected, and a Catholic prayer card given to me by a dear friend. I like to spend a few minutes in front of my alter every day contemplating my life and my practice, but what I’ve learned over the years is that this physical space I’ve created in my home is really just a reflection of the altar within me. Every object, every photo is simply a manifestation of that which lies deep inside. I carry it with me always.
In Sutra 1.28, Patanjali explains that mental stability can be gained through meditation on an experience had in a dream or deep sleep. When we dream, we are uninhibited by our conscious minds and can therefore tap into deeper states of intuition, free from doubt. We may become aware of the underlying beliefs that influence both our perceptions and actions; these realizations can liberate us from our invisible chains.
One-Legged Handstand Prep
Simulating a challenging posture in a more accessible relationship to gravity lowers the stakes and gives us a chance to experience the essence of the pose in a form we can more readily digest. Rather than drowning in effort, we can perceive what’s actually happening. This gives us an invaluable understanding of what’s required to practice the pose when the stakes are raised. One-Legged Handstand Prep is an especially interesting preparatory pose for Handstand because it teaches a few key actions that, when embodied, help us connect to a deep inner support. Below are four different incarnations of One-Legged Handstand Prep that will help you clarify your efforts and strengthen your inversions practice.
MNDFL in the City
I want to introduce you to a beautiful new space where you can literally find the calm in the midst of the chaos. MNDFL is opening their door to New Yorkers and inviting them into the heart of a meditation practice. The minute I stepped foot into their gorgeous, serene space, I knew I had discovered something special.
New Year. Real You.
At the beginning of every year there’s usually a lot of hype around trying to be the “new” you. While I totally understand the motivating power of New Year’s and support any path towards positive change, I have to be honest and admit that any attempt to chase after the “new” me has always left me feeling a little worse. It was around this time of year—deep in the trenches of February—when I would surrender to that invisible force working against me, pulling me under as I tried to swim in earnest towards the surface. Change, however clear or necessary, seemed impossible and I could never for the life of me understand why it was so difficult to manifest the results I so desperately craved. Everything—my happiness, my wholeness, my sense of self—was riding on my success, and so I would put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to deliver results. But after years of “New Year. New You!” disappointment, I arrived at a place where I could no longer endure the overwhelming feelings of shame that washed over me as I proved to myself (yet again) that I, Chrissy Carter, was a huge failure.