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Halloween Yoga

30th October 2011Blog, Featured, Lesson PlansNo Comments

Why do so many adults love Halloween? I think it is because it lets us express parts of ourselves, perhaps even those shadow parts, which we rarely show. Behind a mask, a costume, we can embrace the qualities of our outer form. We may find ourselves not just acting the part, but feeling the part. But what does all this have to do with Yoga? Yoga poses have long been considered ways to “try on” the qualities of other characters and creatures – the mighty roar of the Lion, the proud carriage of the Warrior, the grace of the Swan.

This has been one of my favorite classes since I began experimenting with the theme in 2006. I have based classes on yoga animal and plant asanas as well as on Kali, a ferocious Hindu goddess. In college a senior left me her leopard pantsuit when she graduated and it has been the basis of my go-to Halloween costume for decades since. I’ve bought cute ears, pinned on a tail, painted on whiskers… You get the picture. I have even had the nerve to prance by the guards at the women’s prison, with my tail tucked modestly in my satchel until I get to class.

This year I centered my groups with an energy face massage. Rubbing hands together to create heat and a lovely vibration we brought the energy up to our faces. Before the hands touch the skin, there is a moment when our expression is hiding behind the screen of our fingers and we can “let our masks go”. How many faces do I wear in a day? What a relief to have permission to let my facial muscles relax. In this class we return again and again to this simple exercise to transition between the different characters we assume.

The Cock and the Lion set the tone for  in this class. Kukkutasana and Simhasana appear in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, an early Hatha Yoga text (probably written in the 14th to 15th Century A.D.), so I feel we are joining our energies with generations of yogis when we practice these postures. There is much controversy about where many of our modern yoga asanas actually arose, but  familiar sitting postures , spinal twists , inversions, forward bends, and backbends are included the Indian guru,  Satmarama’s, compilation of the wisdom of Hatha Yoga of his time. Once in a while I like to remind myself of the classics.

Try any sequence of your favorite postures, visualizing and imitating the energetic qualities of each character you choose. If there is a pose that has always been too much of a challenge, try making up your own version so you can add the energy of that animal or plant to your practice. Imagine each yoga pose as a Qigong frolic – a chance to explore and connect your playful inner child with the energies of the natural world.

Take a look at my suggested class, Halloween Yoga and at my post for the Kukkutasana, the Cock.