Ever since I was a child, I have always adored the outdoors. Some of my fondest memories include hiking/ camping trips with my family. My love for the outdoors blossomed when I moved to Jackson Hole, WY for the summer in-between my Junior and Senior year of college. With the Teton range ever present, even a simple stroll through town brought a sense of ease to my soul. Literally, my soul. Deep down into the depths of my soul. This overwhelming sense of love for nature was magnified through hiking trips in the Grand Teton National Park and multi-day floating excursions down the good ol' Snake River.
Today, I live in Charlottesville VA. Not quite Jackson Hole but I have found some spots that inspire and elicit the same sense of peace. In typical Virginia spring fashion, we have been receiving a lot of rain from Mother Earth. Last week after three days of heavy rain, the clouds parted ways. Blue skies contrasted by the warm, gleaming sun encapsulated my upward view. Oh…what a sight to see.
As a surgical/ trauma ICU nurse, time outside the hospital is treated like royalty. For me, I like to split my time between the outdoors and the yoga studio. After completing a rather grueling work week (mind you that means a 5:15am wake up call, 12 long hours on your feet caring for the critically ill and in my case, acting as unit charge nurse, back home around 8:30pm exhausted on all realms- physically, mentally, and most importantly, emotionally!) I was amazingly feeling energized and uplifted…which is rare!
Eager to reset after being ‘In House’ for three days, I grabbed my loyal walking companion Brother and we ventured outdoors. Immediately I became overwhelmed by the varying colors of green. Such vibrancy and crispness. Interestingly enough, the path I was navigating was not new to me. But in fact a walk I endeavor several times a week. With a quick body scan, I realized my breathing pattern had smoothed with extended exhales and my heart rate slowed. My previously racing mind calmed. An engulfing wave of tranquility washed over me from head to toe. I felt restored and alive, gleaming from the inside out. Feeling thankful for the simplicity of nature, her ability to gift me inner peace.
With yoga always on my mind, I had to know which chakra corresponds with green. To my surprise, green is the color of the fourth charka, Anahata…the heart chakra. In Sanskrit, Anahata means ‘unhurt, unstruck, and unbeaten’. Anahata’s qualities include balance, calmness, serenity, compassion, divine and unconditional love, peace, and harmony. WOW! Sound familiar?? Exactly the empowering qualities I felt during my walk through nature processing all the delightful shades of green.
Not only did I emerge from nature revived and 100% present, I had the perfect material for my weekly yoga class.
Inspiration: Anahata- heart-centered class with compassion/ gratitude meditation.
Breath work: Comfortable seated pose. Hands on lap. Palms up in a receiving manner. Breathing in and assigning breath your favorite shade of green. Feel warmth. Seeing the green breath travel into your heart space. Once filled into your heart, allowing the green breath to travel to the spine. Making it’s way along the spine, from the root to the crown. Spreading and sharing the green loving breath with the rest of the body, the room, the universe. Setting an intention of love and compassion.
Asana: Incorporating postures that enable one to ‘lead with the heart’. (Think side twist, backbends, peak pose: King Dancer/ Natarajasana). Breath into the heart…create more room in the heart space. Open chest. Drop shoulders down. Open up and shy away from protecting. Become vulnerable. Surrender. Remembering you can choose love or fear. It’s a choice…why not choose love.
Meditation: Savasana with one hand on the heart. Re-assign the color green to your breath. Send the green breath to your heart space. Meditate on someone you love. Come back to your intention of love and compassion. Tell yourself you are perfect the way you are in this very moment. Remember this feeling off the mat when times get tough. It’s always a choice…choose love. Send out love. Receive love.
Icing on the cake: After class, a student tells me the heart-centered practice was the perfect dose of yogic medicine (huge sigh of relief for the new yoga teacher!). Her daughter embarked on a journey to Africa that morning. She devoted her class to her daughter. Sent her karma all the way to Africa. Incredible.
Beautiful. Yoga is not just exercise…it’s so much more. It truly is a mind-body experience.