By Sangeetha Saran
The holiday season can be a season of joy, abundance, love and laughter. It can also be a season that is quite difficult for many people. Fostering a spirit of generosity in ourselves can allow us to love and serve others in need during the holidays. Feeling generous is a feeling of expansiveness, well-being and safety. If we practice Yoga asanas that cultivate these feelings, we will be better able to be generous to ourselves and others as we celebrate the return of the light during the depths of winter. Metaphorically, we can be the light in a time of darkness for others during this beautiful season.
Generosity is defined as the magnanimous act of giving to others freely and without expectation of any kind. In Yogic terms, this act of giving to others is known as seva or selfless service. When we serve God through serving our teacher or Guru, we offer our time, energy, talents and money to the areas of the organization or individuals that need our support. The same is true outside of the context of an ashram or monastery. During the holiday season, we are often asked to support and help others that may be less fortunate than ourselves. If we have the energy, well-being and resources to contribute to others, we are much more able to be generous during this season.
Practicing Yoga asanas, pranayama exercises and periods of meditation will help to keep a Yogi or Yogini feeling healthy and balanced. This feeling of well-being will allow a Yoga practitioner to be kind and generous. A practical rule of thumb for giving to others is to make sure that you have taken care of your own needs first. In terms of Yoga, this means doing your practice regularly. Ultimately, all Yoga postures will foster generosity because practicing the poses keeps us feeling well. A closed heart usually comes with a contracted heart region. Back bending Yoga postures that open the heart will help to stimulate and nourish generous feelings and well-being. Camel Pose is a powerful back bend for opening up the heart, throat, pelvic and quadricep areas.
To practice Camel Pose, kneel comfortably on your Yoga mat. Come to you knees with your legs hips’ distance apart. Place your hands on your sacrum with your fingers pointing up. Take one full breath and with your next exhale bend slowly backwards against your hands. Go as far as you are comfortable. If you have any neck issues, keep your head straight up. Otherwise, you may bend your head backwards as well. Hold for several breaths. With your next inhale, come up slowly and rest in Extended Child’s Pose. Repeat two more times. Finish in Extended Child’s Pose in order to stretch out your lower back.
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