Agnistombasana ~ Firelog Pose

Agnistombasana, or fire log pose (also known as double pigeon),  is a very deep hip opening pose. Taking this pose can be challenging so it’s important that practitioners listen to their bodies and ensure they aren’t going too far – as is the case with any pose! Agni means fire and stomba means to put out or stop. So in this pose we aim to put out the fire. Unless you have loose hips, you’ll notice where the fire is and sometimes that feels literal. As we relax into the pose though, we feel the release start to happen. That release won’t begin until about 45 second to a minute sometimes so make sure to stay with it long enough to release. And breath…take long deep breaths as you hold the pose to help relax your mind and keep your oxygen flowing to all muscle groups.

To take agnistombasana, begin by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position. Bring your left heel to sit in front of your right sitting bone. Bring your right heel to the top of your left knee. Check your ankle here. If the ankle is sickling you need to flex your foot more by drawing the outer edge of your foot (the pinky toe side) up toward the outer shin. You shouldn’t see wrinkles in your ankle. If this is feeling comfortable and you want to go deeper, bring the bottom foot (the left foot) to sit directly under your right knee so that the shin bones end up being stacked one over the other. Sit very tall . Ground your sitting bones firmly to the floor and expand your spine. You might stay here, but if you want to go deeper still you can fold over your bent legs and bring your hands to the floor. When you feel resistance stop and focus on your breath. When you feel the release begin you can fold deeper if you like. Your back should be long rather than curved when folding.

A modification is to take the bottom leg out straight with the toes pointed to the ceiling. If taking this position it may be helpful to place a block or pillow under the bent knee to allow the hip to relax open. Another option is to do this in a chair as shown below. It can be done anytime that you feel the need to stretch the hips, buttocks and hip flexors (psoas) which all tend to get tight when sitting.

Find the fire and then put it out by using your breath to bring relaxation to the tight hip muscles. Always be compassionate with yourself. It generally takes time to develop tightness in the body and we need allow time to release it.

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Losing Control

When I was 25 I was diagnosed with kidney disease. I was told I would likely need a

transplant within 10 years, put on medications and given a kidney friendly diet to follow. For anyone who has kidney problems, you know that the kidney friendly diet is kind of a weird one- limiting protein and vegetables somewhat, eating white bread and pasta, not many beans and nuts. Like I say it’s a little weird. It’s also low sodium, which was initially a problem but I got used to that over time.  The idea is that you limit what gets filtered through the kidneys so that they don’t have to work quite so hard. I’ve basically followed the diet over the last 22 years, have definitely had some cheat moments (I even ate whole wheat sometimes!). I’ve maintained an otherwise healthy lifestyle which includes exercise, yoga, meditation and no drinking or drug use. When I first heard the news I was quite distressed, unsure of what it meant for my life, for my daughter, my career, but then nothing really happened. All in all having kidney disease has kind of been a walk in the park for me. I do blood work regularly and go into the kidney clinic every 6-12 months for a check up.

This week my check up was different. There’s been a change to the kidney function and I’m actually down to 17% function. This time at my appointment I was told it’s time start finding out which people are willing to be tested for donating a kidney to me and to start thinking about options for dialysis in case I don’t get a transplant in time. I knew that I had lost some function over the past several months, but I still feel good. Maybe a little more tired, more headaches, but still teaching yoga, doing that yoga massage and carrying a full time day job. I should be tired, right?

This news freaked me out. Am I afraid of dying? No. What I fear I think is losing control over how I want my life to look. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to transition into doing massage full time now. It’s very physical work and my body doesn’t seem to be cooperating with me. I wonder if my guy will want to stick it out with me if I become sick. I wonder if he would stick around out of some sense of obligation – even worse! I wonder if I’ll be able to travel the way I want to. Will I stay strong and otherwise healthy? There’s a lot of questions about how much control I’ll have over my future. Then I remember I never really have control, do I? We make our plans and goals and then we set them free to the universe. Often what comes to us takes a very different shape, but it’s often for the better.

For now I will work at staying in this moment where nothing has really changed from the beginning of this week to the end even though everything may have changed. For now I’ll keep doing the things that I enjoy and not worry about losing them. I’ll stay focused on my health as opposed to the disease. I’ll continue my spiritual journey of finding love and compassion for all including myself. I will even love my kidneys for keeping up for so long.

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