Finding Strength on and off the mat.

I think we've all experienced a shaky leg at some point during a yoga class, often for me it's during a warrior pose, which is actually one of the favourite poses.

I remember when I started my practice; as the yoga teacher calmly told me to breathe and hold virabhadrasana 2(warrior 2) my thighs would start to scream and the good old shaky leg would take over. But what a wonderful feeling you get when you do steady your breath, get behind your panicked thoughts and find a special calm focus in that said challenging pose. In turn this lesson will (hopefully) filter into your life. Hard, difficult stations might become a bit more manageable or your reaction might not be so immediate, we are allowed to feel different emotions and feelings, of course, but not getting so drawn into unhealthy thought patterns is definitely helpful.


So, on the subject of standing postures I want the pose of the week to be Prasarita Padottanasana. Wide legged forward fold. It can be suitable for everyone, here I am quite far down in the pose, but you can put blocks infront of you or even a chair to lean on, have a softness in the knees as you lean forwards. Think about the outer edges of your feet rooting down into you mat and hinging at the hips. Strong legs means the upper body can release in this pose. What should you focus on? I love the sensation of opening up the legs, inner thighs, pelvis, in saying this the, focusing on the energy flowing from the base of the spine to the top of the head can be wonderful too. There are many variations to this pose, your hands can stay on your hips, or swoosh down the outer edges of your legs to grab onto your ankles or you can reach for the mat or between the legs. Maybe play around and see what feels best for you. But notice your breath and any sensations you have... always striving to join the mind and body back together through your practice.


As I write this I don't want you to think I'm meandering down the path of the British 'stiff upper lip'/'Be brave'/'You're so strong' mentality, which can be so destructive. It has caused illness, sadness, it limits connection and stops us sharing. I'm not saying we can all go wandering down the isles of Tesco weeping, as we think about all the awful things happening in the world(although I've probably done this at some point). What I'm edging towards is honesty. When you share, connection, speak out you are using such strength to do this. Or when you say 'no' or actually 'I can't do that', you are finding strength. I know this too well, because so often I don't find the strength to put myself fist, to get caught up in people pleasing. I hate letting people down, doing a bad job, 'failing' at something. But recently, through getting quite a nasty flu, once again I was reminded of how fragile we can be if we don't tune in to our truth, or dharma, when we run around feeling guilty or full of shame because we aren't doing enough. Or succeeding fast enough. Letting all the strength fall away as you hand it over to other people to take advantage of.

This might sounds like a load of mindless waffle, but I hope I'm getting my point across, it's important I share honestly as it might just help someone else, and that's what it's all about isn't it.

Often in class with my yogis, as we windmill up to Warrior 2, I suggest we think of our feet rooting down, drawing up new strong energy through our legs, also to think about being strong, grounded, stable. If we are having a particularly strong day I like to ask the people in class to think about something that might be bothering them, or making them feel small or weak, and channel the strength from their warrior pose into this situation, into their breath, their body and spirit. I believe the practice of yoga is an incredible tool to help us tackle the madness of life.

So maybe, think about what strength means to you, what you need or want in your life to feel healthy, balanced and connected. Maybe notice the things that take away your strength and do more of the things that help you stay strong and grounded.

Namaste x

By Josephine Warren

August 2019

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