YOGA POSE + FOCUS: 11.20 – 11.26

“The present is determined by our past actions, and the future by the present.” — Swami Vivekananda 

Weekly Focus:  Asteya (non-stealing)

Culturally, this is an important time of the year to consider what it means to take or to steal. How do we acknowledge our part in the taking from others? How can we work to make amends or to atone for the past? Asteya is the third Yama and literally means “not stealing.” When we move past its literal, surface-level definition however, we are asked to consider non-stealing on a deeper level, looking to abandon intent or desire to steal, to covet, to want. If we pull our view back even further, we might ask ourselves where we are contributing to “stealing” unintentionally. This week surrounds Thanksgiving — a holiday traditionally offered in gratitude for the abundance we enjoy. Perhaps you can invite this idea of asteya to the banquet table this year. What are the actions of our ancestors that we carry with us? What are the lasting effects of colonization? Remember, yoga is not all light, there is a shadow to every sunbeam. It can be a helpful tool to take time to reflect and to share these dark pasts, especially with our children. We cannot change the past, but we can work towards recognition and change for the future. 

Passive Pose of the Week: Kurmasana (tortoise pose)

Look back towards the Self and consider where you may be unintentionally taking from others. Start in a bound angle or cobbler’s position — soles of your feet together and knees opening apart, like a book. Allow with ample space between your feet + your pelvis. Fold forward and settle in. This pose really gets great benefit from a 2 – 3 minute hold, but this could feel inaccessible for a multitude of reasons. To aid a longer hold try these additions: 1) sit on the edge of a folded blanket to support and tilt the pelvis 2) bring a stack of blankets or towels in front of the body and allow yourself to drape over them. Stack it as high as you need to feel comfortable! 3) if you can fold lower, maybe bring a small pillow or blanket on top of the feet to give your head a place to rest in comfort.

Active Pose of the Week: Ustrasana (camel pose)

Expand the heart space allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable to making amends. Come to a kneeling position, reach your hands behind you for your feet or ankles. Imagine squeezing the shoulder blades together as you press and lift the sternum up. Here are a few prop additions that we love in this pose: 1) kneel on a blanket to pad the knees, reducing intense pressure 2) bring blocks to the outsides of your ankles to give the hands something to grab.