Yoga has the ability to move people, not just literally, meaning physically, but also on the inside. A different level than can be measured in pounds or muscle mass. This is why most people stick with yoga as a lifetime practice. Something in them has been intrigued by the notion of a practice moving not only the body, but the mind and if we release deep enough, the spirit as well.
It is one of the most incredible feelings to come from Savasana after a delicious practice and feel alive, energetic and inspired, a feeling that lasts through out the day. Did you notice after that class that you may have been able to accomplish a task you were putting off? Did you get an idea for a project or a breakthrough you needed for whatever you were working on?
Yoga can also create positive energy we may have needed to get creative or motivated. As our breath, body and mind come into balance through our practice, so do our ideas and thinking. With the ability to clear the mind of unwanted chatter and focusing on just you and your practice can make the flow of not just prana (energy) but also thinking a lot easier.
There are many poses that can help you remove mental blockages, or even emotional ones, that are keeping you from finding that inspiration you need. However, there are some that provide the length, breath and state of awareness we need to open our selves up to possibilities we may not have known or found to be with in us already.
Here are a few I and some of my students have found to spark what it is they are searching for.
1. Child's pose (Balasana): As children our imaginations ran wild. Kids have the ability to turn tree houses into castles and the backyard into forests. As we grow older, the stresses and situations of adult life creep in and push out the space we had to dream and pretend. Child's Pose can return you back to that feeling as a child of being "off in your own world." With your forehead relaxing to the floor allowing pressure to easy the front of the skull and the arms next to the ears, we cut off sight and a bit of sound. We are seemingly alone with just the sound of our breath. This is a great opportunity to relax, breathe and ease the mind. I love to use this as a resting pose in the middle of an intense standing sequence, not only to give the body a rest, but for the mind to be alone with the breath, not thinking or knowing what poses come next, just being "alone" on the mat, in your own little world.
2. Pigeon Pose or One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana): People often store trauma and negative energy in their hips. Some have experiences they may not remember stuck in the pelvis from childhood. Adding a fold to the pose also stretches the entire core of our body, from neck to pelvic floor and beyond. Pigeon stretches the thighs, groins and psoas, abdomen, chest and shoulders, and neck. However, make sure you find comfort in this pose to get the full effect of what pigeon can do for you inside and out. While folding, resting the head on either a support, like a block or bolster, or folded forearms and if the hip of the bent leg is raised in the air, place a blanket, block or bolster under it for some added comfort to really dig deep down in your pigeon. Holding the pigeon fold for at least 10 breaths does wonders to stretch the body and release blockages held in your joints. Sometimes when we release in the body, we release in other places as well.
3. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana): BKS Iyengar once said if he could he would die in Ardha Chandrasana. As weird as that may sound, this pose brings harmony through out the body and a sense of peace through the work required to achieve it. Each part of the body must work together to balance. Even if you are up in Ardha Chandrasana for a few seconds finding the full pose is exhilarating. You feel complete and whole. Even now, I still fall in this pose if my balance is not quite right. However, I find so much beauty in just working toward this pose. You have balance, strength and it requires you to completely open the body from chest to hips. This chance to open the body, opens the mind. For beginners, use a block underneath the hand supported by the floor for added balance and height. Also practicing with your back against the wall can help you feel your way into the pose as a beginner.
5. Headstand (Sirshasana) / Handstand or Downward-Facing Tree Pose (Adho Mukha Vrksasana): Although these poses are somewhat different, I grouped them together because the main focus is finding a new perspective. Sometimes, when we need answers to something, or our world seems turned upside down, we need to turn ourselves upside down to think and see things clearly. Practicing one of these two poses, even up against the wall for support, with the eyes open and focusing on the breath clears everything as we focus on balance and strength in the pose. Unlike the other poses mentioned in this list, head and hand stand really bring clarity after they are practiced. It is in that resting time coming from that altered perspective we feel the rush from our breath work and energy that passed through the body.
5. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): I sometimes like to think of Downward-Facing Dog as a sort of palate cleanser in a sequence. It is a transition pose from one set of poses to another or from one side to another. Or even a home base, a pose so comfortable and worn out after we have practiced if for so long, it is like putting on our favorite pair of shoes. We know exactly how to move in it and find the best spacing for us. We find equal "footing" in both the feet and hands, balance. Lengthening the back of our body; hips to heels and fingers to hips. We find the most extension we can in our spine, imagining we can create more space between our vertebrae. We open our hearts and even with our bums up in the air, we allow ourselves to be okay with it. Finding comfort in a position you couldn't get away with doing anywhere else in public but practicing yoga. Downward Dog can neutralize the body and mind. Hold this pose for 6 to10 deep breaths and see where it takes you.
6. Corpse Pose (Savasana): Sounds morbid when translated but practicing dying really can be regenerative for the body. Dying in a sense of letting go, releasing the breath, body and mind. In Savasana, I often tell my students to just be in the pose, that it is the practice of being in the present moment. You took the time to practice yoga, so be present where you are. Grocery lists and work will be there afterward, there is nothing that can be done in that time. Releasing emotional tension and complications in Savasana that you carry with your through out your life can work wonders for finding inspiration for whatever you are doing. Everything works in cycles, if we can practice controlling and relaxing the breath, you can control and relax the body, then the mind and the spirit. If you are a beginner, start with the breath, the body will follow, then the mind and after that, who knows what else.