Clearing the Threshold
After moving into my new apartment, the first thing I did, after unpacking, of course, was to place a statue of Ganesh at the entryway. My friend, feng shui master Ariel Towne, says that besides a fountain, the other necessary item near your front door is the little elephant otherwise known as the Remover of Obstacles.
When you don't let negative, sticky energies in, they don't have a chance to affect you. "Cutting them off at the pass" is a phrase that might apply to what Ganesh is doing there at the front door.
Aside from that massive job, Ganesh is also the Lord of Thresholds. Threshold. What a beautiful word. It reminds me of watching wind ripple the wheat fields during my Midwestern childhood. Yet, the concept itself has different meanings, not only describing the doorway itself, but what the doorway represents: a starting point, the beginning of any new journey or transformation.
Ganesh is not some magic statue, without which you would have no protection against resistance, doubt, and fear--three of the biggest obstacles of all. It's the act of placing Ganesh that brings awareness to our own desire to remain free of anything that diminishes or limits our potential to fly. In that sense, he represents that aspect of ourselves that is ready to swing open the door to our next adventure--and ready to step out of our own way long enough to clear the path straight through it.
Henry Ford said, "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal." You see, we have the power to either turn our experiences and truths into obstructions, weights tethered to any possible rise in self-esteem, greater awareness, and health; or to remove them.
Yogis have fabulous resistance-busting tools. We can get on the mat and practice, opening tight places and dissolving emotional and mental tension. We breathe, switch our thinking, learn to see more clearly and, by deciding to love ourselves a little more, we begin to widen the very doorway into our own hearts. By applying awareness to each situation we encounter, we open a threshold to our core, allowing our deepest wisdom to sweep through, and away, into the world in the form of our most courageous, conscious actions.
In my classes, any time I want to clear the threshold, I ask my students to focus on hip opening. I call the hips "the Gateways," because they can allow, or block, the energy moving from you foundation into your core. If the gateways are closed, the posture is incomplete and with it, the opportunity to gain the full benefits of the asana is lost. Try the following pose any time you feel a little closed yet feel ready to make the space you need to cross the threshold into that next, most incredible state of being who you really are.
Core Pose: Funky Lunge
This posture clears a common tight area--the side leg and outer hips--all the way from the foundation to your center. When you open this gateway, issues like sciatica may recede, since the piriformis muscle at the side of your pelvis often compresses it. As well, you'll open the IT band, making this a wonderful way to free yourself from over-closure of the gateways of the hip muscles and joints and, quite literally, be able to walk through any threshold more freely.
Come into Down Dog. Step your left foot to your right thumb. With this crossed foot placement, you'll bring the right knee to the mat. Center your hips, and come onto palms or fingertips, on the mat or on blocks, so that your hands are under your shoulders.
Begin to roll onto the pinky toe edge of your left foot. As you ground the foot down, and resist it back towards your hip, roll the outer left hip and upper thigh back and down so that it's not hiking up toward your ribcage.
Inhale, lift your lower belly and wave long through your spine. Exhale, and fold at the hip creases as you bend the elbows to your capacity. Play your edge of flexibility as you begin to straighten your front leg until you begin to feel sensation. Breathe and soften there before moving further into your stretch.
If you want more of a challenge, try tucking the back toes under and lifting the back knee as in a Low Lunge. Your hands will walk back to remain under the shoulders for support.
Breathe here for one minute, taking small spinal waves on the inhalation, and deepening your fold on the exhalation. Return to Dog Pose, and switch sides.