Using Yoga to Connect to the World Around Us by Sarah Grow

Scripture: If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.   Isaiah 48:18

Spiritual Focus: “Transformation is not accomplished by tentative wading at the edge.”
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, author, scientist, professor, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Breath prayer: Inhale, Where attention goes,   Exhale, energy flows.

Devotion: The French city of Lyon was founded at the confluence of two rivers with rhyming names, the Saone and the Rhone. As I stand at the point of the peninsula, I can see the darker waters of the Saone, flowing from the north, mixing with the lighter waters of the Rhone, coming from Switzerland in the east. From this confluence, the two rivers integrate and continue flowing southward, gathering the waters of other tributaries on their journey to the Mediterranean Sea. Taking a few steps into the river, I not only see the integration, but also feel the water’s current connecting me to the flow and the force of this place. 

Yoga philosophy teaches that prana, or life force energy, flows through channels called nadis, literally translated from Sanskrit as “rivers”. Our body contains 74,000 nadis of which there are 14 main ones, and three primary ones: the pingala on the right side of the body, the ida on the left, and the sushumna in the center. The pingala nadi conducts warm, invigorating energy and the ida conducts cool, calming energy. These two nadis intersect and cross the centerline of the sushumna several times as they rise from the base of the spine to the forehead. Yoga practices, particularly pranayama, give us the power to tap into our energetic body, create awareness, and regulate our breath. With gentle, yet diligent intention, pranayama impacts our nervous system which can transform our sense of health and well-being. 

River currents, waves of the oceans, seas, and lakes remind us of the energy that flows in their bodies and in our own. The life force energy of prana is sometimes compared to the Holy Spirit as she also flows freely and carries the power to transform. The invitation to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit is always present.  We need not hesitate, but wade right into her waters of peace. 

Practice pose: Alternate nostril breathing is a calming breath practice that promotes clarity and focus. It balances the right and left energies of the body by inhaling through one nostril and exhaling through the other. The breath is guided back and forth from side to side using the thumb and finger to open and close the nostrils. Sit comfortably in a position that supports the spine. Eyes may be open or closed. Begin with an exhale. Close the left nostril and inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril, open the left nostril, and exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril, close the left nostril, open the right nostril and exhale through the right nostril. This makes one complete round. Repeat 5-10 times. Notice the effects of this practice. 

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