Planting seeds and going to Battle..

Happy spring Yogis,

 

We’ve all been meditating on the seeds that we want to plant - and what we want to grow in our internal garden. I’ve been posing the question that if we don’t look at the seeds we’re planting, we may end up with a flower garden, when we really just wanted vegetables...  This time of year is about transformation, growth, and the flowers that turn to food in the fall. If we can ride this wave of change this can give our intentions the lift or sheer force that we need to bring some of these unrealized dreams into fruition. I know that my dreams have changed dramatically in the past eight months; what I wanted back then doesn’t quite reflect what I want out of life now..

This is part of the weeding process that we’ve begun in class; creating the ideal garden bed as we amend our internal soil. The days are getting longer, and we have buds on the trees, and these noticeable changes help inform us of what we want to evoke. Do you want to grow vegetables, or flowers, or maybe both? Those are just a metaphor for your bigger picture. The majority of us have dabbled enough in gardening, or watched a loved one think they had the perfect plan only to have it over shadowed, and nothing grow at all.. So let’s ask the question - what do I want to grow? Is it health; relationships, your business, or your spiritual practice? This is the groundwork for our warm months, and planting these seeds with help us tap into what will light you up for our more social, and extroverted time of the year.

One extroverted event that I wasn’t sure I would enjoy was a few lively rounds of Battle Asana. I was asked to participate as part of my trip to Maryland, and teaching at the One Fire Festival in the beginning of April. Thankfully I was so busy with my divorce, and raising my kids I didn’t look up what it was, and therefore had no idea what I was getting myself into… After I retired from the competition or what some athletes call yoga sport; I felt like the days of being compared to someone else, or judged had come to an end. When I was asked to participate I was distracted and if I’m honest I just said yes because that’s part of my practice this year - to say yes to things I would others shut out.. In their pitch they mentioned charity - I had already done two charity events recently, and that just happened to be the magic word - so I was totally in. Even though I didn’t know what “in” I was getting myself into... That was something that I felt  was missing from my competition days - that ability to simultaneously better yourself while giving back to others. Back then I didn’t know how to bring charity into the practice of competing - so it was, what is was. Overall a great experience but I knew inside it could be even more.  

I’m of course late, and trying to get over to the venue when I look down at my phone. My friend JJ had just messaged me; “It’s battle time!” I think I laughed out loud in the elevator when I read this, as the other normal tourist looked at me in my yoga pants, holding my giant yoga mat. I just smiled with my big don't mess with the yogini shades on, and played it cool as I power walked out of the lobby and over to the hotel next door.  I Approach the room and someone announces that I’m here - I’m thinking, what they were waiting for me.. About now I’m wishing I had read the rules, and done a little recon to see  what I had really gotten myself into. I see mats are set up in a circle for eight of us, with two black mats in the front.  I see all my yoga friends warming up like the old days. They look a little serious but yet greet me with smiles, and nods in between folding themselves up like pretzels. This is what happens when you sweat, and share life experiences with people - It bonds you for life. I light up a little inside at the excitement of seeing my friends, and buzz of the spectators in the back of the room. I'm ushered onto an empty mat, so I go and sit down to at least not look so obviously out of my element until the event begins.  

Strangely this setup was reminiscent of the behind the scenes of when I used to compete. We would all be warming up in the back room, pulling and pushing our bodies, and mediating as we awaited our turn… Inevitably we would all be seeing what the yogi across the room would be doing to help their practice. so although we came concealing what had given us the edge in our performance; inevitably by the end of every competition we would always come away with tips, and techniques, as well as new inspiration to try postures I had never done before. It was like they brought the warm up room to the audience - and then let the audience chime in, and even offer tips.. Yes the spectators could get loud - and we were all in hysterics more than once during the event. It ended up being a riot of a good time, that created a beautiful camaraderie and had us all cheering each other on. Just imagine if you were telling someone the technique to beat you.. Now that’s some yoga.

    It was amusing as we bantered all weekend about how we would take each other out.. By the last day we had figured out more of each other's weaknesses, and laughed at who would spell YOGA first before the time ran out. Then right before the final battle round it was mentioned that 500$ was on the table. Huh, somehow we all missed that the first day... I look over my shoulder at Gloria who we nicknamed ‘The Floor’ -  because she didn’t have to go far to kick your asana. I can tell by her face, and the way she's nodding that now it’s really on! I was working with a knee injury, and wasn’t sure my full wheel was a possibility when I lost to a Tiger into baby Crow. My knees slipped off my forearms, and the timer buzzed me out. You would think I would be sad but what happened next was just awesome - “The Floor” was up against “Hargi” and he had been training. She was crafty as she asked him to touch his foot to his head in Pigeon with no hands. As we watch him wildly try to kick his head with his foot without even coming close. More excitement and laughter filled the room. Then he tried to rock up on his chest in a Full Wheel variation. Just the sheer desire, and willingness to try anything at that moment was so inspiring. Really we all tried new things - some worked and some will definitely need more practice before the next battle . I was reminded that Yoga is unique, and it’s not always the handstand that’s going to win - it will probably be that weird yoga move that will take more than a decade to master. So keep practicing yogis, because even though in Battle Asana the clock runs out; you still have the rest of your life to try some of these fun poses, and hopefully learn a lot about yourself, and make some friends along the way.

Blessings,

Emily Longfellow

Here is a Meditaion for weeding and planting seeds

Begin by reflecting on where you have been, without getting stuck there - and set the intentions of what you want to grow. Letting go of your resistance will allow for your energy to be used towards growth, rather than pulling away your vitality to be wasted on weeds.

Sit with your spine straight in a chair or on a cushion. Begin by drawing your breath in from the tip of your nose to the space between the brows - back down the floor of your nose.

Inhale to the mid - brain/ third eye then down to your root Chakra - exhale at your roots, then inhale draw in the earth element bringing it up the spine to the third eye- then exhale at the third eye letting go of what no longer serves you.

Inhale from your third eye/midbrain to your second Chakra/ water element   - exhale into the water - then inhale and draw in fluidity - up to the third eye - then exhale what you don’t need offering it back up the Universe/or source..

Inhale at your third eye to your third chakra, your fire center - exhale into the fire, burning up what no longer serves you. Inhale the fiery energy that you will need to accomplish your goals, and as you exhale at the third eye, let go of the ashes so they can be recycled into the Universal flow.

Inhale at your third eye to your Heart center or WInd element - Exhale into your heart or the infinite well of compassion. Inhale draw in that compassion and loving energy back up to the third eye/mid-brain - then exhale out the third eye letting go of any past heart ache.

Inhale from your third eye to your throat or Ether element - then exhale out into the throat - Inhale draw in the expression that will best represent your highest good, and the good of the people you communicate with - then exhale at the third eye the miscommunication, and past words you wish to release.

Inhale at your third eye up to the crown of your head - then exhale into the vast sky of cosmic consciousness - then inhale and draw in from that source bringing awareness back to your third eye - then exhale at your third eye center letting go of what you don’t need and offering it back to it’s source.

 Now that you’ve done the weeding let yourself pause, and rest in the clearing and expansiveness of your third eye for 5-10 minutes.

Finish by setting your intention/sankalpa in that third eye center - recite/see or feel your intention - say or see it three times as you imagine it like a golden seed - after the third time let the seed drop into your heart. Once it’s in your heart see that seed grow with love and compassion like a golden light that fills your whole body. Close the practice with three OM's   (A-U-M) 

Meditation by: Emily Longfellow