The Fish Pose is a wonderful counter-pose to the folding poses of Yin Yoga, as well as a wonderful heart-opener. Come join me, and learn to open your heart!
Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. ~ Daniel Goleman
Mindfulness and yoga go hand in hand. When you learn the fine art of holding poses, to your edge, to just a bit beyond your level of comfort, you invite the possibility of subtle changes in your body, your mind and your soul. Staying with the pose, through discomfort, by breathing into the discomfort, is a real character-builder! Isn't this a lovely life-metaphor?
When you invite yourself, as in life, to stay with the sensations of discomfort, you learn how to "see" with different eyes. Learning to see with the heart is the goal of yin yoga and a mindfulness practice. Watching your emotions, watching your sensations and watching your discomforts ebb and flow, really increases your self-awareness.
Becoming fully embodied in self-awareness allows you to better adjust to what comes your way. It allows for the feelings and discomforts to dissipate more quickly and more completely!
What a wonderful benefit of the simple practice of mindfulness! Done with the body, as well as the mind, an embodied practice drives the concepts deeply within ourselves, to our very cells.
The differences of Yin Yoga, may be subtle, but oh-so-beneficial! Please read my article on Yin Yoga, to fully understand how this practice differs from other yoga practices. In my experience, Yin Yoga enriches your yoga practice, like no others. It is truly an exercise for staying in the moment.
There are many versions of this traditional pose. The version I have chosen is an all-body opener. This one is a mild hip opener, and a strong heart opener.
This pose may feel like a very vulnerable pose, if you have deeply seated emotional issues that have left deep scars in your soul, such as that which occurs with abuse. If this describes you, you may want to cover yourself with a blanket, or just avoid this pose altogether.
If you have sinus issues, or eye issues you should not do any inversion-type poses that cause pressure and increased blood flow to your head. You may also want to be careful with this pose, if you are prone to vertigo or dizziness. Often the rush of blood to the head can leave a person feeling woozy and/or disoriented, so if you are new to this pose, proceed slowly and carefully.
To begin the Fish Pose, start by lying in the Butterfly Pose, as shown below in the first picture. Begin centering yourself on your breath. Feel your breath deepen and become slower. The single most important aspect of mindfulness, is conscious breathing.
As you allow your knees to become heavy, as your hips gently open, ground yourself down through your hips and feet. If this is uncomfortable for your hips, you have two options: Just straighten your legs OR place a yoga bolster or a cushion under each knee.
Next, slowly raise your chest, as you bring yourself up and onto your elbows. Let your energy flow down through your elbows to ground them as well as your hips. Keep your lower arms parallel with your torso. Broaden your shoulders. Allow your head to fall back as you relax into the pose. Refer to the picture below.
Now focus on continuing to lift your chest, as you breath into the opening between each and every rib. On the inhale, expand. On the exhale, hold. Allow the sensation of your heart lifting ever higher. You may envision your chest like a balloon, slowly opening and expanding.
As you watch your body and your emotions, try to find the stillness, the relaxation and the mindfulness of this pose.
Try to hold this pose for at least one minute, or 10 breaths if you are a beginner. Slowly work up to 3-5 minutes as you practice this pose daily.
If you find that your shoulders start to ache in this pose, but you want to continue practicing it, you may lower your chest onto a yoga bolster for support. Place the bolster perpendicular to your torso along the length of your shoulders. Just make sure that your shoulders are on the bolster, so that your head is dangling over the end a bit, so as to continue the focus of opening your heart and lungs.
Because of the rush of blood to your head, it is extremely important that you come out of this pose, slowly and in a conscious way. On an exhale, lower your torso back to the ground. Stay here in the Lying Butterfly Pose for a few breaths. If you have not already done so, on an exhale, lower your legs to the extended position. You should be lying straight on your back. Take a few more breaths before rolling to the side and moving into an upright position.
The energy of the heart, or the 4th Chakra is stimulated when you do this pose. This is extremely important, because the heart is the center of it all. It is what ties us to Love, to ourselves, to others, and to our humanity. Love and Compassion, the energies that are paramount to our survival, are allowed to blossom in this pose.
Turn your attention to your heart when you hold this pose. Invite Divine Love into your heart, to fill you and rejuvenate you. As you feel complete in this pose, send this energy, this Love, through your breath, out to the world.
I discuss this concept of the Heart Energy more fully, in my piece on the 4th Chakra. In this article I include many more heart opening poses, to bring healing Divine Love back into your life! I hope you join me in doing more healing meditations with me, to receive Love, so that you may more abundantly pass it on to others.
May you become more mindful of your heart and your capacity for Love and Compassion as you do the Fish Pose! May loving energy heal your body-mind-soul!
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