Sit on your knees in the center of your mat. Allow your hips to gently rest on your heels. Slowly lower your upper body to meet your knees until your forehead touches your mat. Reach your arms over your head until your fingers touch the edge of your mat. Feel the muscles in your arms and hips activate. Take a moment to appreciate the elongation of your spine. Welcome to Balasana –child’s pose.
Balasana (an example by this amazing yogi named Adriene)
Now breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Relax.
Are you relaxed yet? I thought not. And that is completely fine. If you’re anything like me, you may have– by now—rocked from side to side until you eventually rolled out of your pose and landed on your back. Lying on the floor reading this right now wondering why in the sweet hell you believed this to be a good idea. And –if by some miracle—you’re still with me, you may be sitting there thinking that you need this. Peace. Balance. Focus. Something that pulls your mind out of the haze of the everyday. If you are, then take a minute and hit reset. Listen to your body. Can you feel the tension? In your arms, your back, your neck, your legs? Now let it go. Inhale once more. Feel your stomach expand and push into your thighs –really feel it this time. Feel and picture the space that your breathing creates. Allow that space to flow to your arms, your neck, your back. Now, let it flow to your mind.
I find that life for me oftentimes has a tendency to box me in. Not necessarily in the literal sense, but in the figurative, mental sense. I carry around thoughts of worry, hopes, dreams, and anxieties for one thing or for hundreds. Everyday. All day. I’m human. So are you. I become so restless by the idea of not achieving enough, accomplishing daily tasks or ever living up to the superbly high expectations that I’ve set for myself that I denied myself a fundamental right as a person. I constantly and consistently pile and pile and pile on the weight but I never gave myself the permission to unpack it all.
I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t know how to. I believed that in order for someone –hell anyone would do—to take me seriously that meant I had to prove myself. I had to prove I was strong enough, willing enough, dedicated enough to put all these stresses on my own shoulders. But then I had to stop to think…who was really looking? Who was I carrying all this baggage around for? And how was this beneficial to me?
But the devil was never in the who, it was always in the how. How was I supposed to just shake years and years of dead weight off? It hadn’t been until one day, I found myself in the fetal position hyperventilating as a result of one mental breakdown or another –I’ve honestly lost count at this point. I felt my breathing even out. Until eventually my body found this involuntary ebb and flow. I felt my heart rate slow down, grip on my knees had relaxed and my tears had stopped.
My body knew what it needed. It also knew how to get there, but it took me an emotional and mental crisis to figure it out for myself. I had to take the time to listen as my body shared the simple secret of relaxation with me. And that’s all it takes.
So, as I lay in child’s pose –for the second time tonight—breathing roughly –listening as my body slowly evens it out—rocking side to side on my knees to compensate for the tightness in my muscles, I think. Not about the long week I’ve had. Not about the assignments that I have to do. And definitely not about what direction I want my career to go in or that being separated for so long from the person I love makes me feel sad and defeated. In this moment, the only thing I focus on is; breathe in, breathe out.
So as you take your last deep breath in your pose, and as you feel your body –now more aware than when we began—pull your arms back to the side of your head. Slowly raise your upper body –stacking each vertebra, one at a time—until you come into a seated position on your knees. Bring your hands to your heart and take a moment to appreciate not just the space, but the energy that now moves through your body.
I bow to the divine in you as the spirit within me honors the spirit within you. Even in this crazy world.