Hi there! It's beetee. Did you know that instead of reading this Yoga Quick Dive, you can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts ? I recently realised that some of my readers did not know, but once I told them, they enjoyed the listening on their way to work, or during their evening walk, though it's harder to skip straight to the Life section, which is apparently the favourite one 🙄.
This week's quick dive: Anjaneyasana Low Lunge, Santosha (Contentement) and The Pursuit of Happiness Around the Globe.
Yoga Pose of the Week: Anjaneyasana Low Lunge
As promised, I'm bringing to you this week one of the yoga poses that could help your lower back, whether you feel pain or not.
I very often use this pose early in class as one of the warm up poses. The main purpose of this pose as I use it is to stretch the hip flexors, which is a group of muscles including the iliacus, the psoas, the rectus femoris and the sartorius. These muscles attach either your lumbar spine or your hip bone (ilium) to your thigh bone (femur). As the name suggests, the hip flexors flex your hips: they contract when you bend forward.
When the hip flexors are tight and shortened after you sit for a long time, they constantly pull the distance between your spine and your thigh closer, causing you lower back pain.
Stretching the hip flexors is not only good for people who sit at a desk all day, but also for runners and athletes who engage frequently in activities that contract the hip flexors. It is also particularly beneficial for those who experience sciatica, an inflammation of the sciatic nerve.
In this low lunge pose, if you want to get the upper body involved by leaning it back, hands clasping behind your head, you'll intensify the stretch while adding in a juicy chest opening. This could also strengthen your back muscles. There are actually many variations you can take with your arms in this pose.
Last thing, don't hesitate to use a knee pad under the back leg, even if you don't have a knee issue. Once you think you need the pad, it might be already too late.
Let me know how you feel during and after practicing Anjaneyasana Low Lunge!
Eight Limbs of Yoga: Santosha (Contentement)
We continue our journey through the 8 limbs of yoga with the second of the niyamas, santosha. Santosha means contentment. Yes, this is where our Yoga Father Patanjali talks about The Pursuit of Happiness, which has become our modern day sapiens' perpetual pursuit.
In the yoga context, contentment refers to detaching from our desires and cultivating an inner peace and joy that is not dependent on what is happening in our lives.
Beyond yoga, I'm sure you have heard it from other philosophies how happiness is not something you can find outside. How it is about finding contentment in the now, letting go of striving for what you don’t have, and accepting with joy what you do. Santosha is a peace inside that doesn’t change regardless of what is happening externally.
To apply Santosha on the mat, work with what you have. Allow yourself sometimes to let go of the need to be more flexible, stronger or more powerful, and the need to chase after a certain feeling. Make the intention to appreciate yourself for what you are, how far you’ve come and all that you have to look forward to.
Off the mat, I'll leave it for you to ponder. Happiness as being able to achieve certain goals could be a double-edged knife. It's like a dog chasing a car, what do you do when you finally caught it?
Read more about other Yamas and Niyamas in the Eight Limbs of Yoga:
Saucha - Cleanliness
Ahimsa – Non-violence
Asteya – Non-stealing
Satya – Truthfulness
Brahmacharya - Moderation
Aparigraha - Non-possession
Tapas - Self-discipline
Anything above the Earth and below the Sun is Life. Hopefully something useful to you, or at least something that will bring a smile to your face. 😊
The Pursuit of Happiness Around The Globe
Hey, by the way, are you happy?
Whether you think of yourself as happy or not, does it depends on where you live?
In The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy, the author Helen Russell set out to explain how 29 cultures around the world define or experience happiness. Here’s her collection of catchphrases on several of those national cultures. Does any of the these speak to you?
Canada: “Joie de vivre” (joy of life)
"It doesn’t matter how much snow is on the ground, how far they have to drive, or how packed their jazz festivals get. Their particular brand of joie de vivre says, we’re open to anything, anyone, and any weather—we’ll try it all, and we’ll make it good.”
Costa Rica: "Pura vida" (pure life)
“When a Costa Rican meets you for the first time, they’ll be friendly. The second time you meet, they’re hugging you, and the third time you’re friends for life. … [Y]ou’ve got a pretty decent chance of being invited to meet someone’s grandmother.”
Italy: "Dolce far niente" (the sweetness of doing nothing)
"It’s about “savoring the moment. Rather than fretting about big issues, Italians laugh at the chaos of the world and say, ‘Who cares?’ They let it wash over them and focus instead on creating moments of bliss that are within their control.”
Japan: "Wabi sabi" (Simplicity and the beauty of age and wear)
“They convey the idea that happiness is achieved by accepting—and celebrating—imperfection and transience. The idea is epitomized by kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. The lacquer doesn’t hide the cracks; it calls attention to them, because the scars are what make something beautiful and valuable.”
Australia: “Fair go”
“A phrase used to mean that everyone and everything is deserving of a reasonable chance. … Today, the right to a ‘fair go’ has been found to be Australians’ highest rated value in a survey published in Victoria’s state newspaper, The Age. A consequence of this is that Australian society aspires to be anti-hierarchical.”
Bhutan: “Gross national happiness”
"GNH is the philosophy that guides the government and people of Bhutan whereby collective happiness and well-being is measured and prioritized ahead of financial gain. Although practiced informally through Bhutanese history, the term was coined in 1972 when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck told a journalist … ‘Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product.”
What is your very own catchphrase for happiness?
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Until then, take a deep breath and keep your worries away!
Yoga Quick Dive is a series of bimonthly newsletters that should take no more than 5 minutes of your reading time. Let's deep dive quickly into 3 topics: Body, Mind and Life.