Here we go again - preparing to turn inwards and away from life outdoors. You may have been lying in the grass, gazing up at the sky, spreading out your arms and legs to keep cool. Now, we turn gradually towards the opposite - to keep ourselves warm, we close the doors, keep the windows closed and we start to cuddle up, curl inward, turn to tending to our own homes, our own bodies. Its a great time to notice how movement can generate energy, and where the flow of energy circulates and where it gets stuck and cold. To get the energy flowing throughout the whole of our body, we can start the day with some movement on or off your yoga mat. 15 minutes is enough to un-block some tense spots and the use of yoga props can help us even more. A yoga belt or strap can contain our bones and joints to avoid over-reaching! Blocks can keep legs moving symmetrically, and a block between the hands can do the same for the arms as insight can arise when the arms are moving at the same time.
You certainly don't need to be super-fit, or at all fit for that matter, to get moving in the morning and the effects of unblocking the body can mirror the effect in the mind to create clarity, flow of ideas, more productivity. The heart is beating, the lungs are working, the blood is circulating, and the miracle of the body is getting on with its constant effortless balancing of the systems.
Here's a short morning practice you can do starting from your bed:
1. Use a yoga block between your hands to stretch back over your head as if you're yawning your whole body awake
2. Come to sit on the edge of your bed and rotate your shoulders forwards and back a few times - simple, slow, repetitive movement to wake up the brain gradually and gently
3. Time to stand up - feel your verticality and raise your arms to reach into the sky, Once again take a few yawns, sighs, and go to a window to look out.
4. Place your hands over your heart and feel your aliveness. Move in any way that feels good - you can put on some music to shift your mood to 'fully awake' mode
6. Come to stillness, Notice your breathing and start to take some smooth even long breaths, If you want you can use your arms to express your breathing direction.
7. Don't forget to come back to normal breathing in between the long ones to make sure you're not creating more tension
8. Imagine you are waking up every cell of your body and let them know that you are thankful for the miracle that is your body
9. Consider what you are going to do today - set an intention for your day and call out a few words name what it is you desire for yourself
At this point, you could do a short practice on your mat moving the spine in all directions, sit on a zafu, or folded blanket to meditate for 15 minutes, or lie down over a bolster to open your heart.
Have a great day and check back in at the end of the day with the same words and see what insights come up!
You can find Yoga Props in yogaunited.com.
Emotional pain can be too hard to digest, to process, to understand and the mind has the job of removing them avoiding them, supressing them with busy-ness, chatter, distraction. The body can offer physical pain and dis-ease to work with the mind to suppress the emotions which are too difficult to deal with, with parts of ourselves we perceive as unlovable, and distract us with something easier to comprehend like illness. The receptors which regenerate cells get blocked and hold onto the unprocessed emotions.
The good news is we can find skills, methods and support to go THROUGH our stuff, to see it, acknowledge it, befriend it so it loses its power, and approach it gradually with the greatest of care, grace, love and respect to unblock the pathways for healing at cellular level so we can become regenerated, fresh, clear and joyful beings.
Here's how I've been feeling lately!
Emotional - MOI! Yes, all the time, up and down, round and round, love and hate, fear and foe – the last few years of menopause and grief has literally changed my body, my mind, my outlook and my spirit.
It’s been this turbulant chewing and churning: my nervous system is shot and all the gifts in my yoga toolbox of relaxation techniques don’t work, my immune system is like a new personality in my life with physical manifestations showing up that make me feel old and ailing, weird and out of control, my heart is aching with loss and the empty pockets gaping longingly around me, and my shoulders and calfs keep cramping up to remind me that difficult emotions can show up without warning so be on guard all the time! In all this emotional mess, I have bursts of ‘normality’, sprigs of hope and offers of healing, reminders that everything is OK, that I can function in a way that still feels like me, I can make sense and learn and teach…I can receive with an open heart and mind, and even have fun!
I am working on naming this barrage of new sensations, raw emotions, being aware of how and when emotion bubbles up and my relationship to depression, embarrassment, shame, process, honour, witness and healing – oh the work in progress of tapas, swadyaya and iswarapranidhana – self study, self observation, surrender to what cannot be changed, the pissing on the fire of tapas, the fire hardly visible in the embers, catching the tricks of the mind, and welcoming the referred pain of the body; and observation of the ‘field’ in which everything arises – I am reminded of the not so effortful tapas required to keep practicing this one. Useful work and real lessons for a yoga teacher, yoga therapist and trainer of others. And important for my own sanity, clarity, wisdom and growth – what a gift! She tried out how that sounded, that all of this is a gift. She chewed it over and it felt like chewing gum just losing its cherry flavour but definitely there in the after-taste. But don't chew too long in the loss!
One of my favourite dog-eared scribbled on, post it note tongued books is ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckart Tolle, and I am keeping it close to me right now.
As I re-read a quote “One of the main tasks of the mind is to fight or remove emotional “pain”, which is one of the reasons for its incessant activity. Glimpses of love and joy or brief moments of deep peace are possible whenever a gap occurs in the stream of thought”…let’s pause to find a gap right now!
And another – “Basically, all emotions are modifications of one primordial, undifferentiated emotion that has its origin in the loss of awareness of who you are beyond name and form”.
As I pause for reflection, I take a deep breath in and feel life fully, I sigh out a pouring of relief that all this change is part of life and we are all suffering in our own ways, in our own churning molten centres of our worlds.
Sisters and brothers, may you learn from your suffering, may you be free of fear, may you find peace in the deep sea that lies beneath the thrashing of the waves.
Hope to connect with you soon - and find out how our trainings can support you and others HERE