YOGA POSE + FOCUS: 08.14 – 08.20

“Devotion begins at home, inside your own awareness.” — Debbie Ford

Weekly Focus: Bhakti (devotion)

Once again the New Moon rolls around reminding us of our intentions. We devote ourselves to being the best version of ourselves, with recognition that our best version changes day to day. Devotion is love, loyalty or enthusiasm for a person or a cause.  Bhakti comes from the root word “bhaj,” which means “to adore or worship god.” Bhakti yoga has been called “love for love’s sake” + “union through love + devotion.” Bhakti yoga, like any other form of yoga, is a path to self-realization, to having an experience of oneness with everything. Where are you putting forth your love + devotion? Is it towards the tasks that sprout from your deepest desires? Are you setting aside time for this devotion? While the idea of god may not resonate with all of us, we may find resonation in deep personal purpose, whatever that is to you. This could mean a loving devotion to the Self, to your close relationships, to your journey ahead. Where are you devoting your time + energies?

Passive Pose of the Week: Gomukhasana (Cowface Pose)

The etymology of a word can often shed light on points of interest. Gomukhasasana –go: “senses;” mukha: “passageway” or “aspect of something;” asana: “posture.” In more tantric philosophies, the senses nourish the conscious mind like a cow’s milk nourishes the body. Nourish your conscious mind with a loving devotion to the Self in this pose. From a seated position, cross both of your legs in a shoelace position. This pose is normally shown with knees stacked one on top of the other, this may not work for your body however and that is OK. Get as much of a stack as feels good to you. Bend your knees + allow the feet to come back towards the body. Bind your arms behind you. Whichever leg is on top, take the corresponding arm down + behind the low back. Your opposite arm will come up over head, bending at the elbow + reaching to bind the other hand. If reaching the hands feels challenging, utilize a strap, towel or belt at home to extend the length of the arms. This pose brings up a lot of sensation in the hips, knees, shoulders, chest — all over. Whether you find nourishment in these sensations or not, let the sensation of the breath nourish the body and flood you with relief.

Active Pose of the Week: Eka Pada Utkataasana (Standing Figure Four)

Figure four pose requires a dedication to focus in order to balance. Starting in pillar pose with one knee lifted, cross your ankle over the opposite knee, making a “figure four” shape with the legs. Begin to bend your knees while your hips sink low — think chair pose. Your arms can either rest on the lifted shin, gently guiding the knee deeper into the stretch, OR, to increase the balance challenge, lift the arms overhead with your biceps alongside your ears. If you would rather devote your attention to the stretch, try taking this posture at the wall. Stand with your back to the wall and let it support you as you sink into the pose. The support of the wall behind you may allow you to soften your knee down more, increasing the stretch.