On the first of every month, some of us utter the word “rabbit” three times, hoping to bring good luck for the month. I remember my father, especially, doing this, and then making sure that I had chanted the mantra at the month’s outset. Perhaps I also associate Dad with this superstition, because he died during a month when I forgot to recite the words. Logically, of course, I know that his time was always going to be the time that it was; however, it is also easy to understand why my hold of the words became even tighter after that lapsed month.
My sister also occupies a special spot alongside the three Rabbits. Every month, usually before I open my eyes and rise, I silently sound “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit”: Then I feel a small inner smile as I repeat the word nine more times. This habit began after my beloved sis questioned: “Is it supposed to be ‘Rabbit’ three times; or is it ‘Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit’ three times?” (A little historical perspective: This is also the woman who, when meaning “Six o’ one/half-dozen of the other,” instead came up with “Seven o’ one/Five of the other…”) Ultimately, I decided to cover my bases, and recite both versions (3 Rabbits, and 3 Rabbits, three times).
Whether you are one who holds superstitious practices or thoughts, or whether you believe that such ideas are nonsense, the fact is that the energy of our earthly realm is in dire need of a positive boost, if not plain, old Good Luck. At this time in our world, political, cultural, and racial tensions and divisions are rearing their head with ferocity. As always, there are wonderful moments and people who offset that negativity, but the battles seems to rage on. The resulting energy is one of enervation on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.
In times such as these, it can be hard to muster the motivation to move the body, to allow emotional flow, or to trust the eternal depth and power of the Soul. And certainly, to invoke three rabbits as a salve may seem ridiculous when the world around us in in dire need of a significant turn-around. But if one has a faith of any kind—a foundational belief that somewhere, there is a light ready to shine through the darkness—then does it matter what that faith is, or how it is practiced? Call it a game, a superstition, or silliness: However, if it soothes and softens and ushers in hope, then any decrial becomes moot.
In previous posts, I have often suggested moving into Child’s Pose when one feels the need for security or withdrawal from the fray. Today, with the same smile that my sister’s curious queries and comments elicit from me, I offer a trio of postures inspired by the Rabbit and creatures I imagine to be its Disney-like friends: Deer and Bird.
To begin, find your favorite seated posture; for the next two postures, you may find that a bit of bolstering (a pillow or blanket) helps you to enter the full position. Next, take a few deep breaths to connect yourself to the idea of calm amid whatever unwanted stirrings—internal or external—may be part of your life at this moment in time. Now, move your legs and feet into an expanded version of Baddha Konasana, also known as Butterfly in yin-style yoga. The soles of the feet meet each other about 18 inches in front of the groin; the knees open away from each other to form a diamond shape (“butterfly wings”). If you are tight in the groin or hips, you may want to place support under the knees.
With the legs in this position, bring your arms into Garudasana position: Eagle Arms. Hold the arms out in front of you, right elbow over left. Next, raise the forearms, keeping the elbows connected. Finally, wrap the right forearm in front of the left, and try to touch the palms together. This last bit is hard for many people, so if the hands can not make contact, focus on trying for the first two wraps—elbows and forearms. Breathe into this posture by moving the forearms forward, which will help to open the upper back. Remain in the pose for 30-60 seconds, and then switch arms (left elbow on top, and so on).
The shoulder opening of Garudasana arms sends a message of release to the hips, which will be helpful for Deer Pose. Shake out your legs a bit, and then resurrect Butterfly Pose. From there, bend the knee and bring the right foot behind you, next to the outer right thigh; the left leg remains in front of you, externally rotated in what has become half-Butterfly on that side. The opposing rotations of the legs mimics the push-pull that we can feel when trying to remain centered and balanced in the midst of frenzy. Support the pose by placing the right hand in front of you on the ground, and the left off to the outside of the left leg. Breathe, and allow the posture to naturally melt into place as you sit with it for 1-3 minutes. Repeat with the left leg back, and the right leg in half-Butterfly.
Finally, after a bit of shaking and massaging of the legs, come into Baby (Child’s) Pose: forehead on the floor, buttocks on heels, arms reaching back along ground. This variation, which leads directly into Rabbit Pose, requires that the knees and feet are together (versus space between the thighs). If your body structure or flexibility balks at this, place a pillow between your buttocks and heels.
With your head remaining on the floor, grasp your heels with your hands, and round your back. Pull firmly on your heels as you begin to lift the buttocks and roll carefully toward the crown of your head. As you pull and round, try to bring the head as close to your knees as you can. Move slowly and mindfully; if you think you have reached your limit, breathe, and then try to eek a bit more out of the pose. When you have moved into the most compact position possible for you, stay and breathe for 30-60 seconds; inhabit the shape of this resting Rabbit, allowing the creature’s innate gentleness to dissipate negativity, within and without.
When you are ready, stretch onto your back for svasana, or proceed into additional movement or meditation.