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The Tiger & An Open Heart

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Since Labor Day, I have been doing something I call the “Open Heart Challenge.”  This has entailed doing a dozen backbends every day since Labor Day, and I’ll continue to do them for 30 days straight.

Backbends are interesting, because they require a lot of physical stamina, and yet, they open the feminine energy of the heart. In other words, they ask us to use our strength to open our softness.

Call me a tantra-addict, but I love that opposition.  I believe it’s the calling of our cells; of our very DNA (physically and spiritually) – to balance the apparently polar parts of ourselves until we feel unified within and without.

The “Open Heart Challenge” has been interesting.  I began it on Labor Day, Sept. 5th, and by day four, I was feeling weepy and sad.

I could feel old grief in my heart bubbling up for release.  And soon, I realized, it wasn’t just my grief, but the whole world’s grief.

As we neared the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the whole world was remembering and re-experiencing the tragedy, as the media focused on the stories surrounding it.

Yes, there was definitely celebration, but underneath, I could feel lots of collective grief.

I just kept doing my backbends, and feeling the sadness.  And when I was still enough, I could feel the spirit behind the emotions. I could feel the hope – the auspiciousness of life and it’s cycles of birth, sustenance and death.

Now, I have the “Tiger” coming up.

Vicki Does Paschimottansana

If you’re not familiar with the “Tiger,” just think of it as the marathon of yoga practices.

It tests your commitment, courage and physical stamina in a way similar to how a marathon tests a runner’s mettle.

To truly do the whole practice (for the suggested minimum amount of repetitions), it would take around six hours.

At the workshops I’ve been offering, we take on 4.5 hours of it, and it is still a hugely transformational journey – every time.

But maybe this kind of practice is not the challenge you need.  Maybe your “Tiger” looks different.

To create your own “Tiger” just ask yourself:

What practice could I commit to that scares me?

How could I stretch to the very edge of my typical boundaries?

Now this practice may not even be physical. It could simply be a vow to tell the absolute truth for 30 days or say “hello” to a stranger every day.

And don’t assume your “Tiger” has to be something tough.

Or rough.

Or “macho” in anyway.

It doesn’t.

Often the things that scare us the most are the things that invite us to be soft and vulnerable.

After all my heart-opening backbends of the last couple weeks, it now feels like my masculine and feminine energies are meeting in a more raw and powerful way than they ever have before.

It feels like in this Tiger Workshop, they’re going to dance together — and not the waltz or a square dance, but a passionate, juicy Tango.

Yes, that’s it, my masculine and feminine are both showing up to Tango, and I can’t wait to feel them embrace.

So what’s your “Tiger”?

Is it scarier to soften and open, or to step into full-bodied, full-frontal courage?

I invite you to do either or both; to begin an exploration of the boundaries of your masculine and your feminine that will allow you to do a juicy, spiritual tango.

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