Ah, seasonal transition – particularly as we move towards the end of the year. I don’t know about you, but I always find this time of year fraught with conflicting emotions. Excitement! Dread. Joy! Sadness. Delight! Ack.
Unless you’re a pro at expressing all your emotions when you have them (kudos if you are!), some of these feelings will inevitably become lodged in your body. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – having a joy-filled body is awesome! Unfortunately, though, most of the feelings that linger and get stuck are the ones we label negative.
Fortunately, we do have ways to greet them and then ask them to gently move along. One of the best is opening the tightness many (okay, probably most) of us have in and around our hips. The hips are notorious for storing emotion, so working with them to slowly and gently open can bring relief in a safe way.
My favorite way to do this is far and away the Reclined Butterfly pose (which is also sometimes called Cobbler pose). So let’s get it set up!
You might like to have a bolster, blanket and two blocks available for this pose.
To begin, place a bolster on your yoga mat, parallel to the sides of your mat (long-ways). If you don’t have a bolster, you could also use a firm pillow, one-two folded blankets, or something along those lines.
Place a blanket with a low fold at the top of the bolster; this will support your head later.
Sit approximately 2” in front of the bolster with your back facing it.
Bring the soles of your feet together and then place a block under each knee. You can experiment and see which height of the block works best for you. Using the block for support here allows your legs to fully relax.
Begin to lie back on the bolster; you may need to adjust and scoot closer or further away from the bolster. Rest your head on the blanket to give your neck some support and release.
If lying back on the bolster on the ground is a bit too low, there are several options to bring the bolster closer to you. You could add some blankets on top of it to make it taller. Or you could also place a block underneath it on any of the three heights – towards the end where your head would be.
Stay here for three-five minutes (or longer).
When you are ready to come out, gently remove the block from under your right knee. Slowly roll off the bolster and onto your right side. Pause here, using your arm as a pillow, and take at least five breaths. When you feel ready, use your arms to come to seated.
Yoga is often described as the warm-up to meditation – both literally and figuratively. Because yoga opens our body, it can allow us to still our mind enough to sit quietly for a bit.
After the long-held opening you created in your body through the Restorative Butterfly pose, it’s a great time to try a brief meditation.
I think the energy created by dropping into the pose is highly conducive to meditation on an object. Here’s how it works:
Choose an object that you’d like to meditate on. Some nice options include a flickering candle, photo of someone/something you love, a favorite quote, etc. After you’ve got it, set it a couple feet in front of you and softly gaze at it for however long you’d like (I recommend 3-5 minutes to start). Keep in mind that this isn’t a staring contest, so you don’t have to bore holes in the object with your eyes. All your doing is holding it gently in your awareness, calling in its qualities.
This pose and meditation create a beautiful stand-alone practice. You might like to choose your object of meditation first and set it up so that when you come out of the pose, you can move into the meditation seamlessly.
If emotions come up during either of these practices, allow them enter your consciousness and pass on like clouds rolling by in the sky. This is your time and space to observe what’s coming up for you and receive any healing you need before moving onto your next adventure.