A Book Review

When reading about somewhat esoteric philosophical subjects, my eyes may glass over. But I really get it when they are put into the context of a real life experience.  Case in point, as I read Stephen Cope’s newest book called, The Great Work of Your Life – A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling.  Stephen’s book helps us discover our own true calling through the stories of such luminaries as Jane Goodall, Henry Thoreau and Walt Whitman and also through lesser known luminaries of the author’s friends and colleagues (ordinary people). Basically what dharma is and how it is relevant for our lives.

I highly recommend reading this book. It is an easy read for what could possibly be a very complex idea.  It also manages to weave the Bhagavad Gita, the two thousand year old spiritual classic text of Krishna and Arjuna, into the everyday stories.  I am looking forward to applying this to myself and unlocking my deepest truest self.

Here is another readers take on Stephen’s book.  If you would like to order it, Amazon carries. it (what don’t they have?)  http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/09/stephen-cope-changed-my-life-he-might-change-yours-too/

The Poses
Childs Pose

Props: bolster, two blocks, 2-3 blankets

Benefits: Gently stretches the lower back, relieves shoulder tension and quiets the mind.  Give a sense of security. Feeling support and release.
Extras:sandbag for sacrum

Place the two blocks at either the lowest or medium height, equidistant from each other bolster lengthwise on top of blocks. A s-fold or triple fold blanket on top of bolster.  It may be more comfortable without blocks.  Legs straddle the props at one end, and lengthen body over them. Head will rest on props.  Additional blanket(s) may be used behind knees. Ideally props should extend all the way to the pelvis area but this may not be the case with your body structure.   Stay here for 10 minutes to begin with, rotating head side to side. 

Modify as needed with a chair or as a straddle.

Revolved Abdomen Pose

Props: bolster, 2 or more blankets, blocks or additional bolster
Benefits: opens the hip flexors, lower back and abdominal muscles get a squeeze which benefits the digestive system. Cleansing, detoxifying effect.

Set up the first bolster lengthwise on your mat, add a head rest or neck pillow. You may want to add the extra bolster or blankets next to the setup for the shoulder support of the side that you are twisting away from (i.e. legs moving to the right, set up shoulder and arm support on the left).  Sitting at the base of the bolster setup with your right hip next to it, bend the legs touching the heel of lower foot to knee of upper leg (legs are to the right). Then extend arms out to the “T” position perhaps supporting the left shoulder and arm on the supports.  Add an eye cover.  This is an intense stretch and sensations may arise pretty fast.  Use your full three part breath to meet those sensations.  If you feel any pain, slowly come out of the pose.  Stay in pose up to 5 minutes then switch sides. 

Legs up the Wall Variation

Props: 1-2 bolsters, blocks, blankets, neck roll
Benefits: drains fluid from the legs, releases pelvic floor, chest and shoulder opener, back of legs get a gentle stretch.

Place one bolster horizontally on mat (for the knees) and one vertically (for the feet, ankes and lower legs). Arrange a triple-folded blanket horizontally (lumbar and thoracic spine area). Recline legs over the bolsters and lower the upper body on the blanket. Adjust so that the tips of the shoulder blades are right above the blanket. Add neck pillow under neck and move arms to Goddess position if comfortable for  your shoulders. Otherwise, they can go by your side or stack hands on top of your belly.  Cover pelvic area with a blanket or whole body and add a wrapy for shins so legs stay in Tadasana alignment. 10 to 15 minutes, dropping the weight of your body on the exhalations.