One of the most magical things about my trip to Hawaii was snorkeling with manta rays. It's a little hard to see in the photo, but that's Amanda. She's about 14 feet from fin to fin. She's also super extroverted and happy to show off her barrel roll as she scoops up plankton in her giant mouth. To get a better idea of how close the manta rays get and how gracefully they swim, watch this YouTube video from Amanda Andrews.
According to Wikipedia and our tour guide, manta rays can grow to reach 23 feet wide and live up to 50 years. They are filter feeders and eat mostly plankton. When we snorkeled with the rays, we used a bright light to attract plankton, inspiring our visit from Amanda. Their body consists of no bones; instead they have tough cartilage. They are also known to be self-aware: studies suggest that they recognize themselves in reflections.
So, as I've been reflecting on my amazing interaction with these gentle creatures, I've wanted to draw a connection to my yoga practice. What I've learned from manta rays is to stay calm, be curious, and find an expansive pose to gain confidence. So I'm dedicating the star pose to my beautiful manta ray friends. Try it out - step out wide and stretch your hands out wide or to sky. Take a deep inhale and exhale with an open mouth. Stretch in all directions and feel new energy swirling through your body. Take one more breath and smile confidently - you are now ready to tackle anything!!
Please speak back: how do you feel when you hold star pose? What in nature has inspired your yoga practice?