In this article we’ll explore the power of protection from two different traditions and weave them together in our minds and bodies to increase internal balance.
The first tradition is the Hindu Goddess tradition, and here the Goddess Durga is exemplified as a fierce mother Goddess of protection.
She dwells in mountains and rides a lion (which, in some variations, is a tiger), has long, wild hair and wields, among other magical and divine weapons, a sword to slash illusion and self-limitation.
In the mythology, Durga is called upon to protect the world from demons. Beautifully enough, when the demons lay dying at her feet, they recognize her as “Ma,” the one, all encompassing mother of all that has ever existed and are reabsorbed into her body.
Durga therefore not only represents the energy which protects serves to protect us, but she also represents the energy which we protect ourselves from. She passes through every boundary and limiting belief of self, and fiercely clears the path to the infinite, true Self that dwells in our hearts.
In the second tradition, that of Chinese Medicine, this energy of protection manifests as the “Triple Warmer” meridian.
This channel is involved with our immune system and protecting our bodies from external factors that could make us sick. Emotionally, the Triple Warmer is the outermost gate of the heart.
It runs along the sides of the face, neck and head, to the top of the shoulders and down the outside of the arm to the ring finger, giving us the protective “bodyguard” posture. It’s the same muscle chain that you would engage to hold and swing a heavy sword, mace or spear as Durga does.
We all need healthy boundaries, and we all need move beyond our own boundaries.
With an intentional and integrative practice we can choose to gently tone and strengthen the muscle chain, and the feeling of protection when appropriate or we can soften, release and purge accumulated or stuck energy from the channel.
First, we need to understand where we are, physically and emotionally.
The most effective boundary is one that is flexible, one that can stretch and expand but still holds. And maybe through our practice, our intention, our devotion we will eventually come to a place where boundaries are obsolete.
Our heart expands to encompass all that is, fiercely and compassionately like the great Mother Goddess Durga who not only protects but stirs our desire for spiritual awakening.
Here are two poses that will help maintain our Triple Warmer meridian:
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II):
This pose is wonderful for toning the Triple Warmer meridian.
In the arms, the meridian is embedded in the muscular tissue of the posterior deltoid, triceps and extensor muscles in the forearm. Take a wide stance with your toes pointing forward and feet parallel to each other. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees, lining up your front heel with the arch of your back foot.
Sweep your arms out to the side and bend the front knee to a square so that it lines up directly over the ankle.
On your inhale let your arms float just above the shoulders and feel the breath lifting from the bottom of your lungs, your whole ribcage towards the sky. Keep that spaciousness and gentle float of the arms as you root from your pelvis down your legs and into the earth.
Feel into the four corners of each feet. Take several breaths here, simultaneously feeling and recognizing the strength and compassion of the Goddess warrior energy. Repeat on the second side.
This pose offers more of a release for the Triple Warmer as well as the other Heart Protectors stretching the tissue on the back of the shoulder and the arm.
Start on hands and knees with your hands shoulder width apart and knees and feet hip width distance apart. Tuck your toes under and walk your knees back just behind your hips. Inhale and stretch your right arm out to the side, look at your right hand, exhale and thread your right arm in between your left arm and leg.
Tack your right hip back and to the right, inhale and breathe into the back, right side exhale and twist open. Come on to the finger pads of your left hand, bend your left elbow and press your finger pads into the earth.
Take a few deep cycles of breath here, inhaling to the back and on your exhale, imagine any stuck energy releasing down your right arm and fingers and flowing right to Durga’s feet. Let her reabsorb and recycle the energy.
Hug your legs to the midline, inhale and sweep your right arm out to the side looking at your hand with a gentle twist in the spine. Exhale release your right hand down. Repeat on the second side.
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Author: Chrissy Kapoor
Editor: Emma Ruffin