Shift shape, shift breath, shift mood
Thank goodness for yoga, what a life saver, I don’t know what I would’ve done without it. I hear this often from yoga students, and yoga teachers who have experienced the life support that is yoga to navigate life. That’s certainly my experience, and one I’m passionate about teaching, facilitating, and passing on through yoga therapy into a desperately challenging world.
If you’re feeling weathered by life events, feeling fragile, anxious, depressed, struggling or simply lethargic from a long cold grey winter, remember the deep well of yoga practices, applications, philosophy and more are always here.
Here is a short simple practice to shift how you’re feeling.
- Acknowledge what is true for you right now. If you’re far from OK, supressing what is not socially acceptable or expected can make things worse. Describe what you're feeling and meet any difficulty in expressing what you feel with kind understanding
- Get moving even if you don’t feel like it, especially if you don’t feel like it! Shake, jiggle, put on a favourite dance track and move around – get the energy flowing if you’re stuck. If you have no energy, you can do this in bed, move slowly. Most importantly, there is no wrong way - if your mind doesn’t tell you there is. So watch out for the small-minded inner critic – you don’t have to believe what it says, let your body show you something different and have fun doing it your way
- Focus on your breath – direct it into any body part, elasticate it, interrupt it - sound, sing, cry, scream, laugh, blow, sigh, hiss, hold
- Now let go of controlling the breath. Witness the breath breathing you at rest. Be with your breath like a dear friend who wants the very best for you, is there to get excited or fearful with you, and helps calm you down when you need to regulate your emotions.
- Feel into the miracle of the body now, trillions of cells harmonising, regulating, celebrating life running through you. Exaggerate the feeling of wonder, magic and amazement at all that your body is doing right now. Write down a word to inspire you any time you need a shift in mood.
- I guide many more practices with movement, sound, mindfulness and imagination.
In my yoga therapy space and classes, I know that when people have a viscerally contradictory experience to what their narrow mind believes, there is potential to interrupt deep depression taking root, to move through trauma held in the body, to unblock wisdom, and remind you that you are already whole; that aliveness is running through you. What a miracle to even take a breath, to read this article and understand it, let alone tell funny jokes, make wise choices and jump for joy.
Don’t take my word for it – pause here, make a simple gesture with your hands to make this moment ceremonial, whether hands together in prayer, or holding your head in your hands, bringing your hand to rub gently over your chest. Feel into body memory, the throbbing of all your cells harmonising, the incredible capacity for your body to heal. Welcome this moment with a life-affirming breath. Close your eyes for a few moments to feel into the words land in your body, mindfully embody the meaning of the words, taking yourself in.
Now think of this planet as your yoga mat. Open your mind, open into space, open into play, delight and the sacred tremor of your heart. Feel the universe running through you now. Take your hands to your chest, and ask yourself “what am I celebrating in my life right now?” May you find some tiny detail, or a deep desire that gives you a sense of belonging and connection.
Judy Hirsh Sampath email@example.com will be leading the Yoga United education flagship course 'Yoga Therapy for Self Care Module' in 2023, sharing more from the deep well of yoga for your delight, and introducing guest tutors who are experts in the field of anatomy, physiology, movement therapy, NLP, philosophy and embodied mindfulness.
If you're feeling spontaneous, the next online module is starting soon https://www.yogaunited.com/education/yoga-therapy-module-1-the-essentials
During a period of depression, Judy came to an insight through a yoga practice and asked herself “if I focused on what is right with me instead of trying to fix what is wrong with me, what would change?” This deep question was one she has been feeling into ever since. Founder of Yogaunited, yoga therapist, yoga teacher and mentor, Judy empowers health seekers in becoming experts in themselves and celebrating wholeness. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a discovery call.