There is no debating, we are all experiencing an unprecedented challenge. Personally, my consistent, committed yogic practice is informing and sustaining me.
The ability to not succumb to doubt and fear lies in the strength of our spiritual fire. Spiritual fire is called bhuta agni and when we use it in very difficult times as a means of self transformation, it is called tapas. One translation of tapas is "accepting pain as purification". Tapas helps us burn through challenges, using them to grow, for transformation, for lessons.
- Meditate daily. Sitting still helps us connect to what is on the inside, helping us distinguish between the changing and the changeless, The more we know the changeless, the less overwhelmed we are about what is changing. Things have been constantly changing dramatically for individuals; right now dramatic change is happening at a collective level. Meditation helps us know our innermost selves, builds trust, faith and determination as we navigate change, all while soothing the nervous system.
- Practice pranayama. This is step 4 in Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga. Pranayama is controlled breathing practices. These practices give us direct access to our energy system and help us focus the mind. When your energy is positive and flowing healthfully, you feel good, you feel hopeful and creative and can see solutions to problems in a variety of ways. Energy is expansive and full of potential. Limits dissolve and we connect to endless possibility. Practice the two simple breathing practices: Ujjayi one to one (inhalation and exhalation equal lengths) and alternate nostril breathing (inhale through one nostril then exhale out of the other).
- Limit your exposure to negativity. This is so important. Do not listen to the news all day long. Stay informed, yes, but recognize that drama sells and the news cycles basically play repeat on the bad and focus very little on the good. Also be aware of the people in your life that cling to negativity and fear. Love them but move away from exposure to nonstop negativity. Right now it is very important to protect yourself from influences that drain your energy rather than boost it.
- Include naval center practices into your morning routine. The fire element is situated at the naval center and is connected to the 3rd chakra, manipura. This is your power center. Yoga practices that involve the naval center increase your personal power and give you access to your inner fire and strength. Are you familiar with uddiyana bandha? It's a deep abdominal practice and leads to more advanced abdominal techniques. Add this practice into your morning routine. Have an empty stomach and be a little bit warmed up physically. After exhalation hold your breath and suction the entire abdominal cavity back towards your spine and hold as long as you can. Repeat 5-10 times to stoke your inner fire.
This is a time to embrace practices that build strength, stability and clarity, especially if you are feeling scared, unstable and off center. When building spiritual fire, we build capacity for strength and endurance and stamina. This is a time to for bhuta agni.
Love & yoga,
About Nikki Estrada
Nikki Estrada has been in the yoga scene for more than twenty years. She leads workshops, teacher training and immersions nationwide. Nikki began her formal training in India, focusing on Ashtanga, a very physically challenging style of yoga. She is currently a senior yoga teacher and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikki's Vinyasa-based classes are a synthesis of her years of yogic and Ayurveda study and personal experience, with an emphasis on spirituality, intelligent alignment, meditation, and living life more joyfully. Her videos can be found on www.yogainternational.com. More information about Nikki can be found at www.nikkiestradayoga.com. She resides in northern California with her husband and two daughters. Use code NikkiGift for a free month of online yoga.