Yin Yoga and Mythology Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

Lakshmi Yin

35 min - Practice
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The breath is like spring rain, watering the soil of the heart so that it can be a garden of wildflowers of every color. Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance, community, beauty, gathering, and prosperity. Think of gold silk, jewel colored robes and sparkly jewelry, the softest pashmina, and the welcoming smell of sweet warm bread to be shared as a blessing bestowed on everyone. Melt into long held yin poses and listen to stories about Lakshmi, cultivating friendliness, loving kindness, and affectionate generosity towards yourself.
What You'll Need: Square Bolster, Blanket

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Welcome, Kelly Kam here with another mythology-inspired yin yoga practice for you. Today our muse is the goddess Lakshmi. And Lakshmi is the goddess of abundance, good fortune, prosperity. And she's also the goddess of gathering, bringing people together. And so we'll begin our practice today, lying down.

You can lie down on your back. If that's not comfortable for you, you can always lie down on your side, even on your front. I'm going to lie down on my back and just spread everything out. You can open your arms a bit away from your body so there's some space under your armpits, some space between your legs. And then just letting everything be soft as silk.

You could imagine taking a beautiful piece of silk or a pajmina and just tossing it over a chair. The way it would drape, the way it would settle. You could let your body be like that, that your tissues could just drape on your bones. And your whole body could be just as soft as the richest cashmere. When I think about Lakshmi, I think about gold, silk, luxury, beautiful music like a violin sonata.

And I think about warm bread, really sweet, happy gatherings full of people sharing food. So Lakshmi has a really lovely kind of twinkly quality about her. She's often depicted in jewel-colored robes with lots of sparkly jewelry, but it's not just outer beauty that she has. The outer beauty is a reflection of her inner loveliness. So people who have a lot of Lakshmi kind of energy, those kind of people that you just want to be around, the ones that make you feel all warm and yummy inside.

Hmm. So as we transition, you could just think about your whole body still soft like silk, nice and easy. We'll come into a supine twist. So bringing the right knee in towards your chest. And then you could take the right knee with your left hand and just give it a gentle tug over and across the body to the side.

Lots of options here. One option is to bring some support, either a bolster or a blanket or even both. I'll use both. Underneath your top leg, bring the floor to you. That's one way to work this one.

Another way is to stack both knees. So there's always a way to make it a little softer, and there's always a way to make it a little bit stronger if that's what you need. So if you want a gentle version, both knees are stacked. If you want to feel a little more sensation, you could drape the top knee over the bottom leg. So I'm going to gather my props.

And then once you find your shape, just really letting everything settle and soften. And cultivating that sparkly, luxurious Lakshmi energy. Imagining your whole body like warm bread, just soft and sweet. So Lakshmi, she's depicted very rich looking with her gold and red colors. But she also has gold coins that pour from one of her hands.

So this idea that she's just bestowing blessings upon anyone and everyone. There's a beautiful story about Lakshmi. Actually starts with the god Indra. Indra is kind of like the king of the gods. And one day, this very powerful sage named Durbasa, he comes to give Indra a gift.

He has a beautiful garland of the most fragrant pink lotus flowers. And the sage Durbasa presents the garland to King Indra. And Indra doesn't say thank you. He's completely ungrateful. He just tosses the garland over the head of his elephant without any thanks.

And the elephant tosses the garland on the ground and stomps on it. This enrages the sage Durbasa. And so he curses all the gods and all the people of earth. And because of this curse, all the sweetness left the world. All the flowers dried up and shriveled.

Nobody hugged their children anymore. The rulers just raised taxes without giving people anything. And the whole world started to shrivel up. And so all the gods and goddesses, they went to Vishnu. Vishnu is the one who takes care of stuff when it goes wrong.

And they asked Vishnu, please, please, what do we do? Help us. Vishnu said, I know exactly what the problem is. Lakshmi is lost. Lakshmi, this goddess of good fortune, fertility, loveliness, sweetness, she was lost in the ocean.

And so Vishnu told all the gods and goddesses that they had to get her back by churning the ocean. You let the breath churn inside of you. Feel it melting into every fiber, every muscle bone. And then we'll begin to transition out real slow motion. If you had a prop, you just push it off to the side for now.

And one option for a little bit of a rinse off in between is to bring the knees in and just do a little rocking, a little hugging of the knees. You might circle the knees around any direction they want to go. Just giving yourself a little bit of relief from that last shape and trying to pay attention. And noticing when that last shape feels like the echo is faded when you come back to center, you come back to neutral. And so when that is, when you feel like you personally are ready for the next side, then you could arrange your props on the other side and do the same thing.

It doesn't always have to be exactly the same. It might look slightly different because we're not all perfectly symmetrical, but you could bring your props over, take your left knee on top and let your arms spread out, other options like before, you could stack your knees, or you could do it with no props. All of these poses that I teach can be done with no props as well. So you're finding a shape that feels organic, that feels like a natural landing place for your body. And then once you find it, loosening muscle from bone, feeling the ground beneath you, just letting yourself pour into it, inviting gravity to just take you.

And so picking up with our story, Vishnu told the gods and goddesses that they had to stir the ocean to find Lakshmi and bring her back. But they had to work with the demons because the gods alone were not strong enough. And so the gods and the demons worked together and they churn the ocean. And as they churn the ocean, the first thing that came out actually wasn't Lakshmi, wasn't anything lovely at all. It was poison.

It was poison that was so deadly, even one drop of it spilled would destroy the whole world. And so they were in a panic. They didn't know what to do with it. Luckily though, the god Shiva stepped in and he said, don't worry, I've got this. And he took the poison and drank it and held it in his throat until the poison was no longer dangerous.

He transformed it into something actually beneficial, like nectar. And the gods and goddesses and the demons continued to churn the ocean. And eventually the waters began to part. And out comes this beautiful goddess. She was so shiny, so effervescent, so lovely, that everyone was just immediately drawn to her.

All eyes on Lakshmi as she emerged from the ocean. She was dripping with gold and red silk, eyes as soft and gentle as can be, radiating, radiating like those people who radiate that you just want to be around. You can let your hands soften and your feet soften here. And even your skin. Think about your skin that covers you, the whole outline.

Imagine breathing into every pore in your skin. And as you exhale, your whole outline relaxes just a bit more. Your whole outline becomes more gentle. No sharp edges, just soft and warm and round. Mmhmm.

Begin to start calling yourself back. You could return to your back, hug your knees in for another moment here. We're going to transition up to sit. As we do, try to keep yourself in the space of moving very slow, soft and heavy. And so you can roll over to one side, any side.

Pick your favorite one. And as you press up to sit, imagine yourself like water just pouring your way up to sit, keeping that sense of no sharp edges, but just everything soft. Gonna move the props. We don't need the props for now. We'll come to a simple cross-legged seat and just do a little bit of what I call braiding the arms.

Pretty simple movement. One hand will hold the opposite knee and then you lift the other arm up to the sky. As that arm comes down, it crosses to the opposite knee and the other arm peels open and reaches up into the air. And we'll just go back and forth like this a few times. One arm and then the other.

In just the most lovely, soft way, as if you're braiding someone's really silky, shiny hair. You can imagine as your arm reaches up, the molecules of air rolling between your fingers, feeling the texture of the space around you. And noticing the texture of the clothes you're wearing, maybe the feeling of the air on your skin, brushing against the tiny little hairs. Just delighting in the movement of your own body. So the next time both hands are on the knees, you can just pause there and let everything soften forward and down so the arms just cross still.

My head's going to drop. It's just a very gentle, rounded, forward fold. And the other option here, you can keep the arms crossed so you might feel like you want to let that go. And you could walk your arms forward and settle in a little bit closer to the ground. So when Lakshmi emerged from the ocean, she looked around at all the assembled gods and goddesses and even the demons who had to help.

And she saw Vishnu who was her beloved. She walked eyes with Vishnu and she walked over to him and took his hand and hers. And the moment she did that, the whole world bloomed into flowers again. You could really let the head go here by loosening the jaw so much that you might notice the feeling of your lower jaw is sinking and shifting a little bit lower than the upper jaw, letting the inner cheeks be soft, the left inner cheek, the right inner cheek. Noticing the places where the lips meet, softening around the mouth.

Start to slowly roll your spine back up, finding your way back up tall, elegant, almost noble and dignified again. And then just give a little shake out of the legs. You do a windshield wiper. You can let them stretch out, bounce them around a little bit, whatever it takes to just kind of wash that last side off just for a moment. And then changing the cross of your legs for the next round, we'll repeat that again.

So one arm reaching up, crossing to the opposite knee and as it does, the other arm reaches up and you can just go back and forth like that, a handful of times, trying to make it almost like music, that each shape, like a note, kind of blends into the next. That we can think of the yoga practice almost like making music with our body. We create a symphony of movement. And let's do it one or two more times until you feel like you're pretty even. And then crossing the opposite arm on top this time, both hands to the knees, letting the head fall, the spine round and just dropping down and in, where again, you're welcome to stay with the arms crossed or you can undo the cross of the arms, walk them out any amount to fold forward over your cross legs.

So Lakshmi, Lakshmi, she's the energy of when you get yourself all put together, say you're going on a date and you put on your jewelry, you put on your favorite outfit and you look in the mirror and kind of feel like, I feel good. That's Lakshmi energy, or it's the energy of inviting all your good friends over for a beautiful dinner party and decorating the table just right and making loads of beautiful, delicious food. That's some Lakshmi energy too. Personally, thinking about Lakshmi and that sense of kind of lusciousness, the invitation to really be soft and welcoming, to me that helps me really welcome myself into my own body. If you think about this practice as an invitation to really move in, to really come home to yourself.

Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. To come out, you can walk your hands back, lift your spine up tall again, any amount of shaking it off through the legs or windshield wipering before we transition onto all fours. So we'll come into the melting heart pose next.

For that one, you can do it without any props or you might have a bolster in front of you to rest on and the bolster could go really for the head or for the head and the chest. When we come to all fours, you'll keep your seat over your knees and stretch the arms out any amount, but the idea is to get a good backbend through the upper chest, upper back. You can lean your head on the bolster or I'll show you the option. Without the props, you could put your head on the ground perhaps. I'm going to keep my head on the bolster and show you that way.

And then really back to that idea of moving in, of coming home to all parts of yourself, welcoming yourself into every bone, every muscle, every inch of your skin. Because when one part of us is unwelcome, you could think of it kind of like a dinner party. If there was an unwelcome guest, that would have an effect. It would have an effect on the whole party. The same thing with our body.

If any part of us is unwelcome, it has an effect on the whole. And so is there any part of your own body that you've abandoned or that you criticized or that might feel unwelcomed? And would it be possible to really move in there and say, yes, I can live here. I can inhabit myself. I can live in all parts of myself.

All of me is welcome. So here you're letting your spine drape like a string of beads. We're almost like a hammock, easy and soft, spilling towards the earth. Checking in in these last few moments to look for any place where there's gripping, any place that feels sharp. Just to use your breath, your cashmere-like breath, to smooth out the edges, to bring a quality of tenderness to the whole shape.

And as we come out, gently walk your hands back. Take your time here. If you had a prop, you can move it off to the side. And we'll spend just a little time here moving the spine around in a cat-cow-like way. So it could start simple with a cat where you round your back up to the sky, drop the tailbone and tuck the chin, and then a cow where you let the belly soften down, the tail lift, the heart expand through the arms.

And you could keep it very simple like that or also welcoming any other movement of the torso, the spine, the rib cage that wants to happen. You could circle it around like I'm doing, almost like a jump rope. You could look towards your hip, bringing your ear towards your shoulder, your shoulder and hip towards each other, making a C-curve with the spine. Kind of thinking about that story and how they had to churn to get Lakshmi out. They had to really work pretty hard to save the world and bring all the loveliness back, the joy back.

And it's interesting that the first thing that came out of the ocean when they were churning was poison. It was not what they expected. And sometimes it's like that. Even in our yoga practice, I know I certainly thought I want to do yoga so I can just be happy and peaceful all the time, like all those yogis. And then when I started doing it, I realized, oh boy, there's a lot of stuff I haven't looked at.

A lot of things in my life, a lot of feelings I've kind of swept under the rug. And you got to look at that stuff. Sometimes you got to get through the hard stuff, a little bit of poison maybe even, before you get the joy, the nectar of sweetness and joy. So just another moment here of moving the spine around in any intuitive way. So we'll move into a child's pose from here, bringing the big toes close together, the knees as wide as it's comfortable for you, and you've got some options.

You could stretch your arms forward as you sink your hips back towards your heels, and they never have to touch. It's totally fine if your hips don't come to your heels. You can let the head drop towards the floor in between your arms. The other option, which is the one I'm going to do, is to bring in a bolster or a pillow, even a pile of blankets, whatever you've got. And then you can turn your head to either side, maybe half and half each side.

And then once you arrive, let every limb be so heavy on the ground, imagining space between your bones where the breath could move, could bring in the breath, that silky cashmere breath, and just slide it in between all of your bones. Imagine breathing right into your bones, right into your bone marrow. And as you exhale, it's as if all your bones are sighing. And just dropping any tension, any gripping, any sharpness, bringing some of that Lakshmi warm-bred energy to your own body. Lakshmi is also associated with fertility, lusciousness.

So thinking about the breath like water, and the breath like spring rain, watering the soil of you, soaking every inch of your landscape, soaking your heart so that your heart could be like a garden of wildflowers of every color, soaking any part of your landscape that feels dry, feels parched. For the last few moments here, be extra generous with your exhales, breathing into the bones, and breathing out all the way, every drop of breath empties out, letting gravity take you down, down, down towards the earth. And then in that same silky soft way, coming out by walking your hands back, slowly pouring your way up to sit so that you can move the bolster if you had one or the pillow out of the way. And we'll rest in a little shavasana, turning over. Come onto your back.

Perhaps you could delight in the weight of your body on the earth. Perhaps you could delight in the feeling of the air on your skin. Might even notice, does your body have a scent? Do you notice its temperature feeling any warmth in your body? And really moving in, as you settle into shavasana, moving in to every bone, every inch of you, welcoming all parts and coming home.

Thank you. Thank you. You can gently return if you choose to. If you'd like to stay and take a long shavasana, go for it. Otherwise, you can begin to blink your eyes, wiggle your fingers, just noticing the space around you as you breathe.

Imagine yourself expanding into that space. Start to move your tiny joints, fingers and toes, and the bigger joints can follow, bending the knees, bending the elbows. Pouring yourself onto one side so that you can flow up to sit. We'll finish with a mudra practice. The mudra for today is lotus mudra, Padma, where you bring the heels of your hands to touch, the thumb edges and the pinky edges touch, and the middle three fingers of each hand are open like a flower.

You bring that lotus mudra, Padma, right in front of your heart. Another name for Lakshmi is Padma. She's the lotus one. And so as you settle with this mudra, you might close your eyes or just let them get soft and fuzzy. May we cultivate self-kindness, friendliness towards all parts of ourselves.

May we move in and come home to every layer of our body. May we move into every room of our house, saying, I can live here. I welcome myself into this body. And then to finish letting the palms close together in a prayer. Thank you so much for sharing this practice with me.

Until next time. Bye-bye.

Comments

Samreen F
2 people like this.
Loving this practice x
Kelly K
thank you so much! 
Jenny S
3 people like this.
Beautiful grounding, nurturing practice…the story of Lakshmi touches my ❤️ thank you 🙏🏻
Amanda
1 person likes this.
omg, absolutely divine. So perfect today and I love your voice x
Diane C
1 person likes this.
A wonderful, relaxing class. I especially loved the braiding technique. 
Kelly K
Amanda thank you so much!!
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Diane C Hi! So happy that you enjoyed it - it means a lot to me 
Rosanna S
3 people like this.
Your storytelling is just fabulous and really helps to dive deep into the energy of the postures. Lakshmi energy is something I've been needing lately, and I'll continue to come back to the idea of grace like silk and welcoming all parts of myself to the dinner party. Thank you!
Kelly K
1 person likes this.
Rosanna S Thank you so much! Yes, I think the whole world needs a little more Lakshmi these days. Your feedback means a lot to me. Lots of love to you! 
Lynn-Marie M
1 person likes this.
I want to thank you for your beautiful style of teaching and I, too, appreciate your voice. Ive been a yoga teacher for about 17 years and love it when I find inspirational yoga teachers such as yourself. Loved the yin practice. 
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