THIS is MAGICTOBER***, my friends!!! In October I am challenging YOU: I am sharing my personal practice here to inspire you to join and discover the bliss of your own practice at home. Just take 5 minutes TODAY (!) to either repeat after me or MOVE LIKE YOU. Please, let me know in the comments below how this is working out for you.
*** more info in my first blog post on MAGICTOBER
DAY 2 - MOVING INTO IN PEACE
THE GERMAN DAY OF UNITY:
WAKING UP IN PEACE
October, 3rd, Germany celebrates "Tag der Deutschen Einheit", Day of German Unity. In 1989 the end of the Cold War was marked by opening that monstrous Wall, the inner German border dividing East Germany from West Germany. I was a happy ten year old at the time, growing up in Western Germany, merrily singing along David Hasselhoff's "Happy looking for freeeeeeedom" - at least that's what I understood from listening to the song that should become the unofficial hymn of the German Reunification. There is a joke going around that David Hasselhoff stopped the Cold War. Anyway. I loved the song very much as a kid, so, that's that.
Today I am waking up in Friedrichshain, a part of Eastern Berlin that was "behind the Wall" from our, the Western perspective. This neighborhood now is a hip and popular with lots of cute cafés, bars, restaurants. The city is quiet, sunny, in peace. It's a holiday, everybody has a paid day off. Voll gut! - Awesome! The best opportunity to take the time and ease my way into a peaceful day with a nice and lazy yoga practice right where I am: In bed.
FRIEDE. FREUDE. EIERKUCHEN.
PEACE BEGINS IN ME.
Of course. "Es ist nicht alles Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen." - It is not all piece, joy and egg cake, the German expression of perfect, complete harmony. Neither in Germany, nor in the world, nor in me. My mind is racing even before I open my eyes.
A racing mind is oftentimes a reflection of problems that - currently - we cannot do very much about. Or that maybe we are afraid to take action in. Thinking about the issue over and over again, running in circles in our poor poor head, is one coping mechanism of the human mind to get around feeling uncomfortable feelings. We are wired to look for positive feelings, it's a survival strategy. Instead of feeling all those painful feelings of vulnerability, insecurity and fear that come with unsolved problems, we... over-think. And drive ourselves crazy. I am very good at that - how about you?
“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)” (Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras)
OUT OF YOUR MIND? THAT'S A GOOD THING:
BEING PRESENT WITH OUR SENSES
Today, inspired by the German Day of Unity, I decide not to look at my unsolved problems allover again, but to look for the 'peace of my mind' - I am giving my mind a day off and feel into my senses instead. Another saying in German goes "Nicht alle fünf Sinne beisammen haben" - "Not having one's five senses together (united!)" means to be insane and making bad choices. So, "getting our senses together/united" is a good choice for our sanity, an investement in our happiness.
(1) Don't move. Feel.
I make the conscious choice to - before anything else - just stay, leave my eyes closed and feel into my body. We are usually quick to make changes, to improve, to "optimize". It seems so hard to simply be where we are without instantly knowing where we should be. So I decide, I am where I should be. For now it is enough to feel my heart beat. To follow my breath. To feel the coziness of the bed. The quiet of the space. And also: Fear pumping in my belly... which is okay. I am allowing myself to feel the fear inside and to simultaneously sense the peaceful atmosphere of the moment. Both is true. Both is real.
(2) Gentle twist. Easy breezy.
From here I follow my impulses to slight changes of my posture. I am not even thinking of yoga poses, just of gently moving, stretching, resting. First I twist my right softly bent leg casually over the left leg towards the left and turn my head to the right, my arms wide open on shoulder height. Exhaaaaaling. And feeling. I like to softly push away the top of the thigh bone to create more length in the sideways and the lower back. Making micro cat-cow movements here wakes up spine and surrounding tissue: Mobilizing, lengthening, making space. It also helps to find tense spots and by staying here for a moment, breathing, you can soften them.
(3) Shoulder stretch. Soft heart.
Shifting just a little more over to the left will lift up the right arm and shoulder just enough to open up the right upper side of the chest and the armpit. The right arm hangs loose and heavy here. A micro backbend is supporting to start breathing bigger and to gently expand the heartspace. Don't forget: Exhaling. And feeling into the body.
(4) Hugging. Exhaling. Enjoying.
Rolling onto my back, feeling the pelvis heavy on the matress, shoulders wide. Relaxing the face. Lifting one leg after the other for a short visit into a hamstring stretch here and then hugging the knees into the chest. Using as little effort as possible at this point. Haaaaaah. Nice.
(5) Left side: Gentle twist
Now the left knee takes the lead to twist over to the left. Arms opening up on shoulder height. Micro cat-cow. Exhaling. Feeling. You know it.
(6) Love for wide shoulders and a big heart
Twisting more to the left to open up the left upper chest and armpit. Inhaling and backbending into a tender heart opening. Mmmmmh. Yummie.
7) The finale: Heart and Hips opening for a gentle, loving view on this world
Rolling on the back, this time with a pillow underneath so that pelvis, shoulder girdle and head are on the mattress, only the middle of the spine slightly elevated. Legs can stay long or with knees bent, the soles of the feet can touch each other, possibly supported by a blanket or more pillows.
Stay as long as you like, then gently close your knees. Extend your legs, roll over to one side and slowly come up to sitting.
Tadaaaaaaaa! Good morning!!
Thank yourself for this nice and easy start into the day and maybe finish off the practice with a big, loving hug for yourself.
Now you are ready for more yoga love on the mat - or for facing the world outside with ease and peace.
Yogash citta vrtti nirodha. (Yoga sutra 1.2)
Inner peace can unfold when the movement of the conscious mind stops.