Self-Observation Without Judgment
Release the harsh and pointed inner voice.
It’s just a throwback to the past,
and holds no truth about this moment.
Let go of self-judgment, the old,
learned ways of beating yourself up
for each imagined inadequacy.
Allow the dialogue within the mind
to grow friendlier, and quiet.
Shift out of inner criticism and life
suddenly looks very different.
I can say this only because I make
the choice a hundred times a day to release the voice that refuses to
acknowledge the real me.
What’s needed here isn’t more prodding toward perfection, but
intimacy – seeing clearly, and embracing what I see.
Love, not judgment, sows the
seeds of tranquility and change.
Danna Faulds, One Soul: More Poems from the Heart of Yoga
Do you have a favorite poem to share for Mindful Monday? Email me or share it in the comments below.
Yoga Pose of the Week
Camel Pose | Ustrasana
One of my favorite yoga poses, Camel stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins. After a long day of working on the computer, there’s nothing better to counteract the hunch that happens after sitting for hours. I’ll be doing this pose sometime during my long flights to Portugal tomorrow. Yes, it’s happening! And I’ve been busy getting everything together. This excitement can be stressful on the body, which is why I need to make time for some yoga tonight. I’ll be doing Camel pose to release the stress in the back and shoulders from carrying a backpack and walking all day on the Camino. It’s quite the cure-all, so give it a try! See steps and benefits below.
Camel Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
Kneel on the floor with your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs inward slightly, narrow your hip points, and firm but don’t harden your buttocks. Imagine that you’re drawing your sitting bones up, into your torso. Keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, bases of the palms on the tops of the buttocks, fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone. Then lightly firm the tail forward, toward the pubis. Make sure though that your front groins don’t “puff” forward. To prevent this, press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
Now lean back against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For the time being keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Beginners probably won’t be able to drop straight back into this pose, touching the hands to the feet simultaneously while keeping the thighs perpendicular to the floor. If you need to, tilt the thighs back a little from the perpendicular and minimally twist to one side to get one hand on the same-side foot. Then press your thighs back to perpendicular, turn your torso back to neutral, and touch the second hand to its foot. If you’re not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels.
See that your lower front ribs aren’t protruding sharply toward the ceiling, which hardens the belly and compresses the lower back. Release the front ribs and lift the front of the pelvis up, toward the ribs. Then lift the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain. Rest in Child’s Pose for a few breaths.
Benefits of Camel Pose:
- Reduces fat on thighs
- Opens up the hips, stretching deep hip flexors
- Stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back
- Expands the abdominal region, improving digestion and elimination
- Improves posture
- Opens the chest, improving respiration
- Loosens up the vertebrae
- Relieves lower back pain
- Helps to heal and balance the chakras
- Strengthens thighs and arms
- Improves flexibility, especially in the spine
- Stimulates endocrine glands
- Releases tension in the ovaries
- Stretches the ankles, thighs, groin, abdomen, chest, and throat
- Cures constipation
- Tones organs of the abdomen, pelvis, and neck
- Complements overall health and well-being
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I want to share my passion for yoga with the world, so I’ll be scouting out the best festivals and upcoming yoga events in the SF Bay Area. I’ll also include a variety of:
- yoga poses for hiking
- favorite yoga videos
- occasional smoothie recipes
- mindful practices for stress relief
- hiking and yoga club events
- interesting tidbits I learn about in yoga teacher training
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