The holiday season finds us all a bit on edge I imagine. I know it finds me that way. So last week, when I was asked my suggestions for staying calm during this time, I took a step back and embraced the frenzy in order to find inspiration. What I realized was that life was feeling very “Up in the Air”…unsettled, stressful and the opposite of calm.
However, as I thought more deeply about those words…”Up in the Air” a glimmer of inspiration came to me. “Up in the Air” doesn’t have to represent stress and anxiety. In fact, it can be just the opposite. “Up in the Air” can mean just that… SURRENDERING our concerns about things that are out of our control…up in the air (up into the universe). Whether it’s the weather or a hectic holiday schedule, letting go of some of it creates Space to Embrace the Change that we can affect.
So, as we went to our mats this week, we used our Asana practice to help us focus on the freedom to allow things to be “Up in the Air”. We began seated, with Alternate Nostril Breathing (a technique using the thumb and 4th finger to alternate closing one nostril while inhaling through the other, then closing off the “inhale” nostril and exhaling through the other) to begin to settle the mind and start to release thoughts”Up in the Air”.
As we proceeded through several rounds, this powerful Pranayama technique began to restore imbalances in the brain and calm the nervous system. I asked my students to identify thoughts that were entering their minds, to acknowledge them and then to let them pass by or “up” as the case may be; to perhaps surrender the thought and put it out there for the universe to work out… send it “Up in the Air”.
From here we began to warm the body using the core and moving through Suynamaskara A & B (Sun Salutations). We used heart opening poses as a constant reminder to release and surrender; first in High Crescent Warrior adding a small back bend with elbows bent and gaze to the sky and then flowing through Side Plank into “Rockstar” (a.k.a flipped Downward Dog).
From there we transitioned to our Balancing series of Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana into Half Moon and from there, Standing Split. Balancing truly asks us to surrender up what is not serving us. We tend to find our deepest judgment of ourselves when we are working through balancing postures.
Often we can’t control or change limitations in our bodies and yet sometimes we can. When we take the opportunity to determine what we can’t change and therefore need to let go “Up in the Air” and what we can change or improve; like the chance to skip something, or modify it to suit us…therein lies the practice. When we let go of what we can’t control we have Space to Embrace the Change that we can affect.
off the mat, this practice can also serve us. Last week, as I was leaving to teach my class, my car wouldn’t start. As I waved goodbye to my husband (who gave me a much-needed ride to class) I let the thought of my stranded car move “Up in the air”. I surrendered it to the Universe for the time being. We have that opportunity with us all the time, the chance to focus, to breath and to surrender “Up in the air” that which we cannot control. It frees us up to channel our energy into positive change.
Back on the mat, we spent a long time releasing out the hips in Pigeon pose and Gomukasana and I asked my students again to acknowledge the thoughts as they inevitably came to the mind, and then to surrender to the Universe what didn’t serve them in that moment. We finished our practice with Headstand. Headstand (and any inversion) gives us the chance to do just that…turn things on their head. It gives us a new perspective, another chance to let thoughts move “Up in the Air”.
It was time for the body to rest in Savasana, but again I reminded my students that their work was not done. The practice of surrendering “Up in the Air” what was out of their control was still there for them in the stillness. I looked around the room and felt sincere gratitude for the opportunity to guide them in their practice on the mat and help them to transition that practice off the mat as well. And after class, as I waited for Triple A to come jump-start my car, I felt lighter and freer. My worries were Up in the Air, I had Space to Embrace and it felt GREAT. Namaste.