Well now we’ve had the festivities of Christmas, it’s that time of year again … the one when we look forward to a fresh start, and consider how we might best make changes in our lives.
As it happens, Guru Bob has been adapting to change for a few months now, as have all in our household. This massive change in our lives is the reason I haven’t had time to post recently, I’ve been just too jolly busy running around after the cause of this change …. Allow me to present:
Dennis the menace!!!!
Of course, before he arrived on our doorstep we had no idea Dennis was so … well, huge!! This dog is big in every way, obviously physically (he’s the size of a small pony!) but also and notably in personality. But he needed a home and would have ended up in a rescue centre if we hadn’t taken him in, so there you go, and here we are. My partner is definitely a lover of big dogs, so it seemed rather fated. And if I’m honest, by the time he’d got his paws under the table, our original plan, which was to foster him and get him a new home locally, was in tatters: he’d won our hearts.
And so, with the arrival of Dennis in September 2016, our lesson from the Universe on accepting change began. A dog this big, with two already in the house, seems like a whole lot of work, not to mention expense. A new dietary regime has had to be instated, with a view to both economising a little and also making a longer term investment on the basis that the best possible diet we can provide will keep all three of our furry children in tip top condition and so save on vets bills down the line. (I try to remember that as I’m attempting to hack raw chicken fillets into bite sized pieces with a pair of kitchen scissors, no mean feat for a confirmed vegetarian!) Walks, which were a casual and relaxed affair in the past, now have to be planned with military precision. And a child lock has been fitted on the cupboards following several visits to the vet after a certain large Labradoodle took it upon himself to consume food not really designed for dogs (namely stollen, fruit and nut chocolate, two small plastic bags and at least as many toy squeakers!).
So we now have Bob, who’s a rather senior doggy, Amber who is just about calming down from her teenage frenzy and Dennis, who is a pup at heart and at 2 years old still has some running about to do and shennanigans to perform before he gets over that particular hump. We were somewhat worried about how Bobby might cope with this big change in his life, but we were forgetting the fact that he’s a yoga guru in disguise: he has embraced the change with open arms and used what could have potentially been a big problem in his life as an opportunity. He is now bouncing around and getting far more involved with everything than ever before. When Amber and Dennis trot after me into the kitchen, hoping to catch a tasty titbit or grab the opportunity to steal a treat from the doggy cupboard, Bobby, who would previously have slept through such an event, will now tippy tap in to have a look and a sniff and to make sure all is in order. When are going out walking, despite his now very senior years, he is eager to accompany the pack to ensure that all goes to plan and that the youngsters behave. He takes every opportunity to lead by example and show those pups how its done! Here we all are in our local recreation ground, Bobby keeping lookout as the others have a tasty snack:
One of Guru Bob’s secrets is that he is a very grounded and sturdy dog. He doesn’t get flustered by much – in fact a lot of what might fluster lesser hounds just passes him by. He remains stalwart and resolute in the face of any storm. How might we emulate his impressive impassiveness as we approach the New Year, bringing as it does its opportunities and its change? The answer, dear yogis, is GROUNDING POSES.
It doesn’t take an awful lot to ground yourself mentally, physically and emotionally when you’re feeling flustered or overwhelmed. Traditionally standing poses are said to be most grounding, but I’m going to offer you here a mini sequence consisting of one standing and two non-standing poses.
Begin with some moving bridge pose, and then come into full bridge:
For moving bridge leave your hands by your sides, bring your feet into the alignment shown, hip width or just a little less apart and feet parallel. Inhale to lift your tailbone a little off the floor, pushing into the floor with your feet and hands – this is the grounding part. Exhale to lower gently back down. Gradually lift higher in the pelvis each time, until you are in the full pose. Hold the full pose for five grounding breaths and release down slowly.
From bridge, come into Vrksasana, tree pose:
Standing firm on your left foot, engage your legs by hugging the inner thighs together and drawing up through the knee cap as you plug firmly into the floor with the ball of your foot and heel. Opening through the hip socket, bend your right knee and place your right foot onto the inside edge of the left leg – above or below the knee joint is fine, but don’t put pressure on the side of the knee by resting the ball of the foot or heel into it. Lift through the rib cage, drop the tailbone and engage your bandhas, draw the shoulder blades down towards the waist at the back, and either bring the hands to the heart centre in prayer, or try variations as shown in the picture, or take reverse prayer position at the lower, middle or upper back, depending on your shoulder flexibility. Breathe deeply and gaze intently at a still spot as you root into this calming pose. Don’t forget to do the other side in this one!
Finally, end on a seated forward fold, paschimottanasana:
Remember, you’re trying to fold forward so that your back stays relatively long and your head and gaze are towards your feet, you’re not trying to bring your head down to your knees (which would make your back round). Keep the shoulders drawing away from the ears, press the sit bones and tailbone down and feel as though your lower back is moving away from your pelvis. Keep a micro-bend in your knees as you fold down, and you could even prop your knees on a cushion to support if you are tight in the hamstrings. Once you’ve got down as far as you can go, let go of any judgements or frustration at not being able to go further, and breathe into where you’re feeling the resistance. Remember this is a pose which teaches you patience and you do NOT have to come down all the way, as long as you’re feeling a stretch you are doing your pose correctly.
You could lie back in reclined cobblers pose or savasana and concentrate on a few deep cleansing breaths to end this practice.
Whenever life’s storms are battering you, ground yourself with these three simple poses, and remember Guru Bob’s advice: “there are no problems in life, only opportunities”!