“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.” ~~ Greg Anderson

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are here, isn’t it? This year has gone by SO fast for me, and so much has happened! I’ve been reading lots of blogs and articles these past few weeks, and not surprisingly, the majority of them have been focusing on gratitude. Why not? After all, it is the season of Thanksgiving, so it’s a perfect topic to explore.

Since so many others are doing such a fine job of covering the art of gratitude, I decided I would take a different approach for my weekly focus. I decided to focus on the bird poses, particularly Eagle pose (Garudasana).

Why bird poses, you ask? Well, with the turkey being such a prominent part of Thanksgiving, it got me thinking. Alas, there is no such thing as Turkey Pose in yoga, but there are SO MANY other bird poses. Besides Eagle, there is Crow (sometimes called Crane), Heron, Pigeon, Bird of Paradise, Peacock…and each of these has many variations that can be done to make your practice as challenging as you like.

Bird poses are great because they help you learn the art of focusing. They are so challenging that if you lose your focus, even for a second, it’s easy to topple over. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve landed on my face when working on Crow. 🙂

So often, we get caught up in the whirlwind of life, trying to multitask ourselves to death…that’s stressful, don’t you think? Seriously. How often do you really get the opportunity to focus completely on what you are doing while you’re in the moment of doing it? How often do you look back on what you’ve done and actually remember the details? If you ask me about the things I did last week, I could probably list them off for you. But if you ask me for the details, I don’t know that I could give them to you.

When we experience life, we need to seriously take the time to enjoy the journey. I love the quote above by Greg Anderson, because it reminds us to focus on the journey, not the destination. In other words, take the time to experience EVERYTHING given to you. Notice the smells, the people you interact with, the emotions within you and around you. Wholly involve yourself in all the things you do, so that you are actually DOING them and not just shuffling along.

I am working on this myself. I actually spent some time this past weekend really trying to work on my focus. I’ve got two daughters, and it’s become very apparent to me this past year how quickly time goes by. My teenager is a junior in high school, and it won’t be long before she’ll be off at college. My youngest is in 4th grade, and she’s such a social butterfly that when we’re home, she’s always outside with her friends. When they’re grown up and no longer living at home, I want their memories (and mine) to be ones that we’ll cherish. I want to be able to recall not just that we went to this place or that place, but the things we did, the foods we ate, the smells in the air. I want to absorb every possible detail to the point that it becomes part of what defines me.  

So this week in class, we’ll be incorporating bird poses. I chose Eagle as the main one because it’s great at strengthening your legs, improving your balance, and stretching the shoulders and hips. There are also quite a lot of cool variations with Eagle, so I thought we could have some fun playing with some of them. Here are some of the variations we’ll be working with:

  1. From the standard Eagle pose, you can bend at the waist, taking elbows to the outside of the knee (folding in half).
  2. From the standard Eagle pose, bring hands into a prayer position. If your left leg is on top, take right elbow to outside of left thigh, and twist to the left as you would in Chair pose. Repeat on other side.
  3. Repeat #2, but continue to floor to come into a Side Crow variation with Eagle legs. Jump back from here to Chaturanga if you wish.
  4. Eagle Crunches. Lie on your back with Eagle legs (Eagle arms, too, if you can). Bring elbows to knees on an exhale, and then come back to start on an inhale. Do this for 30-60 seconds.
  5. Eagle Twists. This is done lying down. Your arms are in “T” position, and you have Eagle legs. If left leg is on top, then twist is to the right. Repeat other side. I love this one…it’s so wonderful for stretching the IT Band!

I know there are other Eagle variations out there…what variations do you love? Please share them here…I love learning new things!

Namaste,

Melanie

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