Foundational Sequence: Ardha Chandrasana
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) is the perfect pose to practice cultivating a playful approach to balance. It’s categorized as an open twist standing pose with the front thigh in a position and effort of external rotation. If you think this pose is easy, I have some bad news for you: Ardha Chandrasana is haaaaaaard. In fact, in my opinion it’s one of the most underestimated and misunderstood postures in the entire standing pose lexicon, right up there with Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) which I like to refer to as the black hole of yoga.
Take Your Time
Time is such an interesting tool to play with on the mat. When I first started doing yoga, I needed time to move quickly. I didn’t like holding poses. In fact, I hated it. There was a very real boredom, frustration, and anger that would arise when I was asked to stay still. As a result, I gravitated towards classes that kept me moving, but really (and I could have never articulated this at the time) that indulged my undisciplined attention.
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.