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May 23

Looking Within

In the previous post Addicted to Looking Away we talked about the dangers of resisting reality and the many methods people use to avoid the present moment.  Today I want to offer a practical strategy for becoming fully present and surrendering to what is…  We need to develop a method for looking within.

It’s called Ardha-Kurmasana or Half Tortoise Pose. This is, in my opinion, the mother of all postures for people in recovery.  Ardha-Kurmasana is an amazingly powerful recovery and rejuvenation pose offering maximum relaxation and healing.  It is said to provide the equivalent to eight of hours of sleep.  Now I’m not sure if that’s an accurate claim but I can tell you I spent two nearly sleepless years using this pose to keep my sanity.  I believe anyone in any kind of recovery can benefit from this one simple meditative practice.  Nearly every expression of the spiritual malady stems from a sense of stress when we are faced with perceived discomfort.  Yoga, and this pose in particular, provides physical action that can be taken to effectively alter your physical state and relieve that stress.  When that immediate physical burden is lifted we find the clarity and perspective needed to step back and move into acceptance and peace.

Take this position and connect deeply with the breath, keeping it slow and rhythmic. Maintain your breathing as your primary focus throughout.  If your attention strays come back to noticing the sensations of the breath moving through the body.  Notice every detail of what breathing feels like.  Instead of struggling with your thoughts, just notice them, put your focus back on connecting with the breath and using it to keep the pose active. This is a potent meditative and healing posture.  Be sure to scroll all the way down and read on for more on the many compelling reasons to spend time in Half Tortoise every day!

 

Step by Step:

  • Sit back on your heels in Hero’s Pose with the knees and feet together.
  •  Inhale and lift both arms overhead. Bring the palms together and cross the thumbs. Arms should be straight, biceps touching your ears. Straighten your back and feel the stretch.
  • Exhale and slowly pivot down from your waist until the outside edge of your little fingers, the tip of your nose and forehead touch the floor. Arms stay active reaching forward, hips stay relaxed back toward the heels.
  • To come out of the pose engage the core and come up slowly all in one solid piece. Release your arms to your sides.  You may stay in Hero’s pose sitting back on your heels to further your meditation or take another comfortable position to continue with the breath and reflection.
  • You can stay in this pose as long as it feels comfortable; there is no minimum or maximum timeframe on this one.  Repeat as many times and as often as needed.

 

Benefits :

  • Stimulates the pineal and pituitary gland helping to regulate serotonin and melatonin. This helps to balance sleep cycles, relieve insomnia, prevent anxiety, lift addictive cravings and cure depression. Generally beneficial for all forms of stress.
  • Opens the chakra at the third eye. When this Chakra is balanced we experience high levels of mental ability and clarity. We are able to clearly distinguish between our own imaginations and reality. When we live with a balanced Third Eye chakra, we experience overall good health. Clear thinking and focus lead to the proper combination of logic and emotion. A healthy third eye chakra will encourage intuition, empathy for others and build trust in oneself.
  • Half Tortoise can actually help you live longer. This posture results in a rush of blood to the brain cells. This improves brain function by ensuring that the brain receives sufficient nutrition. With regular practice, this exercise is also said to activate the dormant cells in the brain, slowing the “normal” degradation of brain cells to slow the process of aging.
  • The increased circulation to the brain enhances memory and mental clarity.
  • Increases circulation to facial muscles, helping to prevent and erase the signs of age.
  • Massages and stretches the lungs, creating a dramatic increase in oxygenation of the blood required for every healing and rejuvenation in every cell in the body. This is also very helpful for people suffering from respiratory disorders.
  • An effective posture for ailments of the digestive system, helps counter Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
  • An excellent exercise for those suffering from migraines.
  • The posture is also said to helpful for diabetics as it may help in controlling blood sugar levels.
  • Relieves tense necks and shoulders.
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