"It is neither wealth nor splendor,
but tranquility and occupation,
which give happiness."
I came across this quote in Natural Home magazine, accompanied on the page by a beautiful pot of tea and an orchid. I tucked it in my journal with the intention to share it with my friends and students. I recently found the page outside my door, half buried in the snow, waiting for its duty to empower.
I've since shared the quote and taught the yoga asana, Eka Pada Rajakopatasana (one legged pigeon prep) as a physical expression of Jefferson's sentiment. The pose imbues a dove-like grace and knowingness of purpose.
How do you occupy your time? Do you love what you do, and do what you love? Do you make the time to go within, and find a place and time for reflection and tranquility?
Set an intention to live the life you want, and practice aligning yourself physically, mentally and spiritually with that intention. This mini yoga sequence, featuring the hip releasing and heart opening Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (one legged king pigeon pose), is a great place to start on the mat, encouraging you to feel secure, confident, courageous and abundant, off the mat.
Living the life you want, means a daily practice of holding fast to your true Self, the divinely good you. Start by being Open to Grace and to Possibility. Focusing on your breath, flow through Surya Namascar A & B (Sun Salutations) - to warm up, igniting the transformation of dormant intentions, creativity and passions to align into action.
Flow into Eka Pada Rajakopatanasana to begin to gently free up stagnate energy in the ligaments and joints of your hips and thighs, clearing the body's lower chakras so energy can flow upward through the higher level chakras to the heart, throat and brow. Eka Pada Rajakopatansasa in its most conscious, full expression, exudes a qualilty of grace and positive attitude, and is not a dormant pose, but one of action. Using muscular energy set your foundation (hug to the bones, from your periphery to your inner divine self). Root the front leg's shin down and back, isometrically, while also hugging the back leg in toward your mid line; this action keeps the muscular and energetic action of your limbs engaged for balance, and allows you to shine forth from a place of knowing. From this 'contained' place you can organically rise up more solidly, and pour your energy through the chakras with a direct flow.
In Eka Pada Rajakaotasana Bhekasana (one legged frog pose) variation, maintain the hug inward for stability as you bend the back leg forward in pose. Maintaining the hug of muscles to your bone, keep both side bodies long, and both hips squared, as you reach back and hold your same side's foot with your hand or elbow. Press the back foot and shin down toward your outer hip, while the opposite hand remains by your hip for extra support or reaches back to join with the foot.
In full Eka Pada Bhekasana> (frog pose) your foot may go all the way to the floor, or you can connect both arms and hands in a backbend, with your head touching your foot or feet in Dwi Pada Rajakapotanasana. Go easy; yoga is directional. Be where you are, accepting and breathing into the pose. This Eka Pada Bhekasana variation releases stagnate energy held in the upper thigh, which can relate to any unfulfilled or long held intentions. Soften your heart and then Hug your muscles to the bone and to your inner divine goodness. Sitting deep in the pelvis, tuck your tail bone to rise up through the lower belly, and then gently arch back tilting your head toward your back toes, dristi (gaze) to the sky - let your 'solar' plexus and heart beam, while breathing steady, Open to Grace.
"Listen with the ear in the center of the chest, and hear", as the 13th Century mystic poet, Rumi, says, "what's behind what i say.".
To help the back bend, Create an active loop of energy from your postures highest focal point, the upper palate through the back of your skull. Releasing your shoulders down your back and in toward your heart, looping the action back up through the center of your chest and back to the upper palate at the roof of your mouth. This loop will keep the back of your neck long, even as you gaze upward, allowing a clear passageway of prana (lifeforce) to move through the chakras, from your pelvis and hips, through your solar plexus and heart, and up through the back of the throat, to the Janu, or wisdom center at your brow, and then up through the crown of your head.
Open to Grace. Free yourself from struggle, in the pose and in your life, and soften your heart between your shoulder blades. With inner body brightness, beam like a white dove, full of peace and purpose. Maintaining the hugging in to your foundation and heart, offer your free hand to the sky, either with a wide open palm Abaya mudra (fearless hand gesture) or in the Janu mudra (wisdom hand gesture), thumb to middle finger, symbolic of the connection you are making to your higher self. Maintaining the shoulder loop, gaze upward and breathe deep in this pose for five exhalations as you organically lift your chest to the sky like a pigeon soaring high with a powerful message.
Take pause afterward, and rest your chest forward on the floor, over your front knee, opening your hips futher in this long holding, Yin pose (yin: feminine, cooling), a complement to the more firey nature of theYang salutes and back bending pigeon. When ready, release into Ado Muhka Savasana- (downward facing dog) and then switch sides.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
Follow Eka Pada Rajakapotanasan with another downward dog for five breaths, and then swing forward into a seated postition. Sit tall in Dandasana (staff pose). Dandasana being symbolic of a staff used to climb a mountain of spiritual heights and dharmic fulfillment (your life's true purpose). After five breathes in Dandasana, plug your shoulders in to your torso, and then extend your arms over head; maintaining that same shoulder loop practiced in the pigeon pose, fold forward into Pachimottanasana (forward sunset pose), bowing in humility, for the opportunity we have during this lifetime to graciously walk the path of our Soul, is an honorable one. Let the forward bend be a chance to be still and look inward... to feel tranquil; sure of yourself, not anxious, but rather nurtured and content.
You may want to continue the practice with Ardha Matsyendrasana (seated twist) or Sirsasana (headstand). These poses offer the opportunity to root down and rise up while either "twisted" or "inverted". A worthy practice as life throws us many challenges.
As always, end your practice with Savasana(corpse pose), and allow for the ultimate in tranquility and occupation, the passing of our physical self into the continuation of our ceaseless soul's journey.