Dance with the FlamesStep into the Fire of Transformation
1 hour 20 min workshop with Matt Giordano
Step into the fire and Dance with the flames
This title extracts the essence of this workshop. There are a few different themes and teachings that weave their way through the practice, but at the core of it, this workshop is about having the courage to step into the fire of transformation. Most of us fear the fire itself, but after walking through we know the joy it brings on the other side. You can likely think of a time when you didn’t want to face a challenge, all sorts of resistance came up for you yet you stepped into the fire of it and made it through. Afterwords there is a celebration, a joyfulness and gratitude that overwhelms us. Despite knowing this we still resist when its time to step back in. It’s time to develop a new pattern, one of courage.
How do we know when its appropriate to step into the fire? If you observe closely, life is handing you everything you need. More often than not a series of unfavorable circumstances show up in your life – if you pay attention you will be able to learn from them. They are typically showing you what you do not want, and that its time to make a change. This is called contrast. Contrast allows us to see more clearly. Contrast is here to show us that if we continue in our current direction more of the same circumstances will show up.
Resistance Vs. Contrast
These two feel very similar in that we are challenged by both. The difference between the two is actually massive. Deep down inside you know when you are taking conscious action toward your highest potential. It is scary, and it takes all of your courage to do so. Every part of your being feels challenged, but when you go to sleep at night you feel fulfilled in the knowing that you are living at your highest. The moments/days/years before you take that big step toward living at your highest you will resist out of some form of fear, and you will righteously defend your current way of being or acting. You might place blame on others, yourself, or outside circumstances – everyone/everything else is the reason I am not stepping forward. “there isn’t enough time”, “He/she demands too much of my attention”, “its a toxic situation”, “the traffic, the weather, etc.”. There are always reasons not to move forward, seeing your resistance toward your potential and stepping into the fire anyway is the path of the yogi.
Contrast on the other hand feels challenging as well, but its very different. Contrast is all around you, everything in nature exists in opposition of each other. Embracing the rainy days as well as the sunny days, will make the other half of your life more enjoyable. There is no one or anything that has it all. Everyone and everything has equal and opposite polarities, what you see is piece of the puzzle. Sometimes life will push your toward your potential by presenting everything you do not want in rapid succession, it will feel like the world is out to get you. The spiritually evolved yogi recognizes that life is trying to do you a favor, and show you that you have a much higher purpose and potential. If you are not responsible and are unwilling to face the challenges you will sit in the burning heat of the fire. On the other hand, if you listen to contrast, and find the courage to face your own resistance, you will walk through the fire and have the opportunity to dance amongst the flames.
Facilitated Stretching: Active engagement (muscle contraction) of the muscles being stretched results in a deep relaxation of the target muscle upon releasing that engagement. This results in greater range of motion. My suggestion is to work on activating these muscles when you are in less of a stretch, learning what it feels like to engage them, and then when it comes time for deeper stretches be more subtle with the engagement of the muscles. In this workshop I take you through strong engagements in standing postures to develop your body awareness, but as the workshop goes along and your awareness grows, simply soften your effort to about 15% engagement of the targeted muscle group.
Strength requires effort, and for those of us that come to the yoga practice to relax, it can often be challenging to drum up the energy inside to engage our muscles. It is important to realize that our deepest relaxation happens when we have spent all of our energy, and are left with the nothingness that feels like pure bliss after a hard practice. While this workshop focuses on very simple postures, it does require focus of the mind and strength of the body. Stay with the practice, keep your focus, feel your body, and you will receive the powerful results in the end.
By using the technique of facilitated stretching you will notice that there are significant benefits when it comes to increased flexibility. Not only does facilitated stretching support greater flexibility, but the awareness of how to engage the muscles of the hips helps adjust the alignment of your bones in order to target each muscle in your hips individually. This is highly beneficial in that through your increased body awareness and strength which allows you to shift your bones you will be able to intentionally shift a posture to stretch what is specifically tighter in your body, and stop over stretching what is already flexible. This approach provides a great ability to find harmony in the body.
Step into Your Highest Potential
Your highest potential is a path not a destination. Start walking the path one step at a time. Find the courage to step into the fire so you can dance with the flames.
Pigeon Without Knee Pain
The Yoga Butt
Avoid over stretching the hamstring attachments near the sit bones by actively pressing them down toward the earth in forward folds. This action is confusing in that we want to keep the pelvis folded forward (anterior tilt) but activate the hamstrings as if we are trying to posterior tilt.
A Different Approach
This approach is completely different than the approach I offer in pigeon without knee pain, and the hips rock and unlock ’em video. At the risk of creating some confusion I want to present to you another version of pigeon pose that focuses on internal rotation of the upper femur bone rather that external rotation close to the knee. For some people this creates a deeper hip stretch and supports less compression in the knee. I enjoy both variations depending on what I am trying to target in my body.
The Feet and Ankles
I want to acknowledge how amazing it is that you have taken the time to support the growth of your body awareness. It is one thing to want health and freedom, but another thing to take the actions to move toward it. My suggestion is to repeat this workshop weekly as you will continue to extract more and more information and will be better able to integrate it into your body over time. Also bring the activations into your daily yoga practice so that you are developing technique, strength, and length every time you step on to the mat.
THANKS FOR JOINING
Hips: Rock & Unlock 'Em
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