Life can be challenging! The most difficult situations can cause us to retreat and move inward. The mind can quickly cling to the negative, amplify destructive emotions and lead to a feeling of despair. This inward feeling has a direct impact on posture. The head hangs forward and low, the shoulders move off the back and slump forward, the core area rounds outward….all which moves us away from our core power.
Bhavana, creative visioning, is an ancient Vedic yoga practice that teaches that it is in these dark moments that we have the opportunity to go deeper inside ourselves…kindle the light in our hearts…and remember that we are a part of the Divine Radiance from which all creation emanates…is sustained by…and dissolves back into.
Everyone wants to be happy…to feel valued…. and to know that they have a purpose and that life has meaning. The practice of Bhavana can be used to empower yourself…to amplify your “good vibes” so that you feel more connected, improve your posture and strengthen your core.
To combine the practice of Bhavana with your asana practice, use the ‘Life is Good’ gesture:
- Intertwine your fingers and place your hands behind the big part of your head.
- Turn your gaze subtly down your cheeks…towards your chest, as if you were looking inward to your own heart.
- Breathe in and imagine that your inner body is growing bright and full of light.
- Allow your heart to lift upwards, following the movement of your breath… as if it was growing towards the light of the sun…bringing your shoulder blades more deeply into your back.
- Breathe in and amplify your inner light…let your whole body expand as if it were filled with the radiance of the sun.
This action brings the shoulders onto the back and the head into alignment in relationship the shoulders, spine, hips and feet. At the same time your weight is moved towards the core of your body so that your weight is evenly distributed in your legs.
Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)
“Life is Good” arm gesture.
1. From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog) bring one leg forward into a low lunge position. Turn the back foot slightly outward to create the foundation for Warrior 1.
2. As you stand up push your feet down into the floor like a powerful tree sending its roots deep into the earth. Keep your front knee bent in line with the middle of your ankle. 3. Move your hips and torso back so that you are anchoring into your back leg and distributing your weight evenly between both legs.
*If your front knee bends past your ankle then move the left foot back a little to widen your stance.
3. Now, place your hands behind your head and follow the steps for the ‘Life is Good’ gesture.
4. Connect to the feeling that being filled with radiant light gives you and with an exhale extend your arms up towards the sky.
* If ‘creative visioning’ is not tangible enough for you then just remember a time when the sun was shining on your face.
5. Keep breathing and then once more push down through your legs, move your torso back, rest you head back into your hands and lift your chest forward and up….breathe in fully to create more of a feeling of being open.
Using a gesture throughout a class can prepare students for more challenging postures. Here is the “life is good” gesture in Mermaid pose.