We’ve all heard the saying: “kindness goes a long way.” To be completely honest with you, I am not sure where that quote comes from but I do believe that I ascribe to it in my daily life. Any normal situation automatically becomes better when kindness is involved IMO. Buying a coffee and the barista is kind? Great coffee experience. Getting on public transit and the bus driver is kind? Normally nightmarish commute experiences are elevated. Receiving help from a kind retail associate? I’m way more likely to enjoy my time and buy something.
If you ask me, there are few reasons to not be kind. Some might say that we don’t owe a stranger anything, but personally I believe that one act of kindness can create a ripple effect. This begs the question, where does kindness come from? How can we cultivate kindness?
Kindness, like most other “positive” emotions, comes from the place where they all come from. Your own inner well of self-love. Yup, it always comes back to YOU. As a little experiment, this past month I focused on increasing this well of self-love and self-worth. And what do you know, I felt kinder not only to others, but to myself. This created a sort of feedback loop of kindness coming in and going out. I took time to notice my inner self talk. I reflected on the areas in which I was tolerating less than what I truly want. I enjoyed activities that make my heart feel free and aligned (lots of snuggling on the couch with my dog).
As I reflect on this work, I really do feel like a kinder human being and like that kindness is contributing to an overall better place for everyone.
Peak Pose: Goddess (Utkata Konasana)
Although maybe not a traditional Iyengar posture, Goddess pose is typically seen in Vinyasa style classes. While seemingly simple, the pose is quite vulnerable with the front body wide open. It requires a spreading of the chest and inner hip groins, which is quite opposite of the patterns normal life asks of us (generally speaking). The shape itself also symbolizes openness, receptivity, and surrender.
Supporting Pose 1: Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)
This is a great starting position to begin to get into the inner groin muscles. Coming from a seated position can be relatively accessible for participants and anyone can moderate how much they are folding, thereby moderating how intense the stretch is. Although it’s not pictured, a blanket under the bum might be comfortable and help to make the fold a bit more accessible.
- Sit on the ground with the soles of your feet together and knees wide.
- Take your hands to the bottom of your shins and fold forward. If possible, you can press your elbows into the inner thighs to widen the legs.
- Keep your spine long as you reach your heart over your feet.
- Once you’re at your edge for folding, allow your head to relax.
Supporting Pose 2: Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
What’s easier than opening both inner hip groins? Opening one inner hip groin! Warrior II is not only great for generally preparing the body for Goddess, but it also helps to teach the actions of the open hip and open leg necessary for the peak pose. The spreading of the chest is also similar here as in our peak.
- Face the side wall and hop or step your feet about 3 feet wide.
- Turn the back toes in slightly and rotate the front toes, leg, and hip out to 90 degrees.
- Bend the front leg to 90 degrees so the thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Keep widening the inner thigh so the knee is going in the same direction as the second and third toe.
- Widen your arms towards the front and back of the room and take your gaze over your front hand.
Supporting Pose 3: Tree (Vrksasana)
Tree is another great hip opener (hip external rotation) which helps prepare the practitioner for Goddess pose.
- From mountain pose, stand on the left leg.
- Come to the ball of the right foot and externally rotate the right toes, leg, and hip out to face the side wall.
- Lift the right foot to the inner left groin.
- Press the right knee back in space to lengthen the inner thigh while remaining mindful that the right hip is in line with the left hip.
- Take the arms wide and up to the ceiling.
Peak Pose: Goddess (Utkata Konasana)
- Face the side wall and hop or step the feet about 3 feet wide.
- Externally rotate both sets of toes, legs, and hips.
- Bend both legs to about 90 degrees. If you cannot fully bend to 90 degrees, or if you notice your knees are uncontrollably caving in, narrow your stance.
- Widen the knees to lengthen the inner thighs and bring the knees in line with the second and third toes. Be mindful that the pelvis remains under the chest.
- Take your arms out to sides and bend them to 90 degrees with the fingers facing upward.
- Breathe and welcome the moment. 🙂