Each one of us is unique in this world. We are born equal, with the same intellect and also with all the tools inside to exploit our own potential and to get the best of what we have. But even though we are a shiny diamond, we have a veil of illusion that only lets us see the rock, and not the bright diamond beneath. Most of us are ignorant of our own true nature and that brings us pain, instability
that comes next may not be authentic: your job, your relations, your tastes, your thoughts.
To be able to get to know yourself, you have to open the door and get inside, start to get connected with your body, your senses, you own energy, your mind, your fears, the things you like about yourself and the things you hate. Yoga is an ancient science and philosophy of life that leads the way deep inside you and helps you balance and harmonize your body, mind and emotions through the practice of asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha, meditation and shatkarma. In my personal experience, as I started walking this path I’ve been raising the knowledge about myself and my own awareness. I started being in contact with the little subtle things in life like the beats of my heart, the rhythm of my breath, the changes in my emotions, the energy in my hands and I got more and more knowledgeable about myself.
Yoga as well helps you to clean your thoughts, to see things as they are and not as your deceiving senses tell you, to expand your internal power, to accept things as they come, to get the truth of what you really need in life.
And when you know what you are, your insecurities disappear because you realize you don’t depend on anyone else, you are not attached by anyone’s opinion, judgement, expectations. You learn to accept yourself and you understand you have everything inside to succeed in your own way, so that you light up your uniqueness and expand it, enlightening others and making our home, Mother Earth, a better place to live.
Practicing asanas gives you the possibility to observe and to recognize yourself at every step. What do I think of myself when I’m standing in the mat? Am I confident or I just don’t believe I can do it? Do I stay in comfortable asanas, in my comfort zone? What are my thoughts during the practice? Do I compare with others?
Being aware of all the feelings and thoughts that arise will give you the power to know how to deal with them and therefore aquire confidence about yourself. And as a consequence, you will also raise your confidence in your life outside the mat. But, in my opinion, is also equally important to work also on self acceptance, and practicing yoga is also and excellent opportunity to recognize your limitations (body/mind) and accept them. Self acceptance is the first step for loving yourself.
Not only you can remove this ignorance in a practical physical way, but also you can put in practice some concepts of the yogic philosophy, the Yoga Sutras. For example, we need to believe in ourselves first before believing in anything or anyone else. You have to learn who you are, which is your own path instead of trying to be someone else (iswarapradinava). And to generate self love, I propose to work with yogasanas that stimulate mainly the heart
chakra, anahata, like: ustrasana, kandharasana and bhujangasana..
You may as well add virabhadrasana I and II that will work on your security and will make you feel grounded and strong, helping to provide personal power and determination, to wake up that inner spiritual warrior we have inside.
Ustrasana – camel pose
Camel pose is great for the digestive and reproductive systems as it stretches stomach and intestines. It has also benefits for the spine as the backbend stimulates spinal nerves and opens the chest relieving rounded shoulders and backaches. Like most backbends reduces anxiety and stress. It is also a great asana to stimulate anahata chakra as it really expands the chest, allowing energy to flow freely through it.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees
hip widthand thighs perpendicular to the floor. Youfeet should be in plantar flexion with the insteps on the floor.
- Raise the right arm up and back, making a
semi circleand lean the right arm preferably on the right heel, and at the same timeyou will start to perform a backbend with your spine. Do the same movement with the left arm and place it over the left heel.
- Push your pelvis and hips to the front engaging your thighs and your buttocks and keep the thighs in the same line as the hips
- Relax your back, open your chest and keep your neck in line with the spine.
- Keep in the posture for some deep breaths and release making a
semi circlewith right arm first followed by the left one bringing slowly your spine upwards and forwards and last bring your head up.
- You can rest in Balasana.
- If you find it hard to backbend, try lifting a little bit your heels from the ground by placing your tiptoes on the mat. If it is still difficult, put a block On the outer part of each foot and place your hands there.
Kandharasana – bridge pose
This asana will help you work on your upper back, helping to correct the internal rotation of your shoulders, opening your chest and improving the health of your spine. It also improves digestion and helps tonify female reproductive organs. Helps you as well to tonify the lower muscles of the body that will provide you stability and security. To get more benefit from the asana, raise your awareness on your heart chakra as your chest opens and in you solar plexus, paying attention on all the gravity movements that occur in your organs.
Follow the instructions to perform this asana:
- Lie on your back with your knees
bendedand press the soles of both feet flat on the floor. The heels should be as closer to the buttocks as your body allows.
- Keep your knee and feet hip apart and take both hands closer to the heels. If you can, grasp your heels.
- With a big inhale raise your buttocks and arch your back, arching as well your navel and chest.
- Lift the chest and open it so that it goes up the level of the head.
- Support the posture by your shoulders, head, neck (they should be active but relaxed) and legs and feet engaged also support the body.
- Stay there for a few deep breaths and release the asana lowering slowly you back, with exhalation, vertebrae by vertebrae until you reach the starting posture.
Adjustments for Beginners:
- If you can’t reach the heels with your hands, you may place your arms on the mat with fingers interlaced. Another variation is to place the palms of the hands on the lower back bending the elbows and using the arms as a support to keep your hips up.
This posture has many benefits starting from the improvement of breathing. It also helps to correct backaches and keeps the spine healthy as it is also a great chest opener. Stretches the chest, opens the heart and lungs. Helps as well the toning of ovaries and uterus and to improve the function of liver and kidneys. Helps to relieve the stress and fatigue contributes to stimulate the kundalini energy.
- Lie on your stomach with legs and feet together
- Place the palms of your hands below your shoulders with the elbows pointing backwards and close to your rib cage
- Inhale and lift your chest pressing with the palms in the floor, leave the elbows slightly bended.
- Engage your back muscles trying to leave the pelvis in the floor. You can also generate self acceptance and self love by stimulating your heart chakra through meditation combining it with Hridaya Mudra, the heart gesture.
- Sit in any comfortable meditation posture and align your spine. Make sure your pelvis, your heart and your head are aligned.
- To make the mudra, place the tips of the index fingers at the root of the thumbs and join the tips of the middle and ring fingers to the tips of the thumbs. The pinky finger remains straight. Place your hands on top of each knee.
- As you close your eyes, bring your awareness to your heart. Try to feel that energy in your chest l and try to connect with the pumps, with your own inner
- With all the consciousnesses on this chakra, repeat the
bijamantra yam. Feel the sound rumble in your chest.
- Stay repeating it for at least 10 breaths
- When you finish with your eyes still closed, take both hands to the chest or in prayer pose and repeat this affirmation: “ I accept I’m myself and I love myself just the way I am and I’m in contact with my source of power”.
When you have ignorance, you start to follow a stereotype or another’s path because you think that will lead you to success. But you need to realize that, like you are unique, so is your path to follow and your duty to perform in this world, your own purpose. Self acceptance and love is a compromise you have not only with yourself but also with society.