Recently I’ve been editing a book by meditation teacher Sally Kempton. It’s a book about the Hindu goddesses – Parvati, Sita, Saraswati, Kali, and Lakshmi, to name a few. The book is wonderful and has given me lots to reflect on. (Look for it late in 2012 – I will give you a heads’ up!) Most recently, the chapter that has stuck with me focuses on Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. When we learn about Lakshmi, we typically learn that she’s associated with wealth, accomplishment, and success. But Kempton proposes that Lakshmi is also the felt sense of having enough. In other words, when you’re in tune with Lakshmi’s energy, you feel full and satisfied. The key is that this feeling doesn’t require that you have more stuff, you simply have to know that this sense of abundance is within you and around you all the time.
Editing this chapter has me thinking about the concept of having enough. I think it can apply to how we feel about ourselves, too. I think we often worry unconsciously that we might not be enough. We often pursue things—ahem, even fancy yoga poses—hoping that reaching a goal will give us a little more inner currency to deposit into our bank of self-worth. And as great as reaching goals can feel – and as important as it is to have them – there comes a point where we have to ask ourselves, ‘Am I enough without all my inner and outer stuff? Can I appreciate myself just because I’m me instead of ticking through my list of accomplishments?’ And finally, ‘Can I limit my tendency to do my yoga practice and allow myself to be in it?’ What do you think? Are you “enough?”
The yoga mat can be a great place to reverse the tendency to doubt our self-worth. Really, is there a better time or place to affirm your own inner sense of fabulousness? Or if you can’t quite go that far, can you allow yourself from time to time, to feel content on the mat?
One of the best ways to feel Lakshmi’s energy, says Kemptom, is to honor the aspects of Lakshmi within you. And so, when you get on your yoga mat today, I invite you to say to yourself, “I am enough.” You don’t have to look into a mirror and say it out loud like Stuart Smalley did. But know that you have the power to internally drop the self-improvement efforts, put down whatever heavy load your psyche may be carrying today, and know that you are abundance itself. Each pose that you do is deep enough or good enough. Each breath you take sustains you enough so that you can do this practice. The amount of time you have to devote to it is enough. This is really a practice of self-love.
One way that I allow myself to be “enough” on my yoga mat is to use props, because they help me let go of over-efforting. They also usually make my poses feel more spacious, which allows my breath to flow more freely.
Using a wall and a block for Revolved Triangle is one of my all-time favorite proppings. The block gives me a little extra support and pressing into the wall helps me create a nice long line along the bottom side of my waist. It also provides leverage to help me twist. Try it and let me know what you think! Or add your favorite prop/pose combo that helps you feel full and satisfied to the comments below.
Warm up your body with Sun Salutations and standing poses such as Triangle and Extended Side Angle Pose.
When you feel ready to twist, bring your mat and block (I’m using a 3-Minute Egg here) to a wall. Stand next to the wall and press your hand into it. Stand a forearm’s distance away from the wall with your right leg forward, left leg back. See that your front heel is in line with the arch of your back foot. Inhale, bring your hands to your hips. Exhale, fold forward and place your left hand on your block, to the inside of your right foot. Pause for a moment and notice if your right hip is poking out toward the wall or hiking forward. Right the right hip crease into the midline of your body and square to the other hip.
From there begin to lengthen the left side of your waist. Don’t twist yet! Just focus on getting long, long, long. Then exhale and twist toward the wall. Press your right fingertips into the wall, at whatever height gives you the best sensation and leverage. Stay for five breaths. Inhale, continue to lengthen the spine and waist, exhale, press the fingertips into the wall and twist. Feel spacious. Feel light. Feel like you are enough.
An editor at Yoga Journal for nearly a decade, Andrea Ferretti has had the honor of writing about and learning from some of the best yoga teachers in the West. She has been greatly influenced by Sarah Powers, Sally Kempton, Cyndi Lee, and her husband, Jason Crandell. For more of her personal writing, visit her blog, Mindful Living.