“Where your mind goes, your energy flows”
Yoga is a practise that re-stores balance, in the body and mind. It is a chance to turn inwards, to consciously manage our energy and power, to tap into our awareness so we can better notice where the cracks are and where our energy is drained.
We can all relate to that feeling of being depleted. Physically and mentally. Drained because of ‘work’, ‘relationships’, ‘worrying’, ‘overthinking’, ‘the future’, ‘the past’, ‘being around certain people’.
Drained, just because. Sometimes, not even knowing why.
If your energy was a golden light emanating from you, where can you see it going? Is it lost in talking, are you speaking for the sake of speaking, saying words you didn’t mean and wished you hadn’t? Is your energy lost in tomorrow, are you constantly worrying about the future? Is it lost to your phone, or social media, are you watching that sunset with your own eyes, or seeing it through a picture? Is it lost to pleasing others or giving certain impressions, when really you feel so differently to what you are portraying?
As human beings, we tend to interpret the world through our emotions. Great. The only problem? Sometimes our mind gets involved, in an unhelpful way, and that confuses matters, causing us to leak out our energy in all directions.
We’ve all experienced the exhaustion that can come with using up all our energy just thinking. Our mind tires, just as our body does. We can all recognise how mental fatigue shows itself in our body too, suddenly we form shoulder pain, tight hips, back ache, headaches.
Generally, when our energy and power is low, we are not happy bunnies. We can be left feeling powerless.
So, what are we overthinking about, where is this energy going?
It’s different for everyone. Catching the busy mind in action, noticing where you put your mental focus, is a good place to start.
Recently, I’ve been catching myself a lot.
For example, noticing that I spent the whole weekend worrying if I offended someone I just met, because they ‘didn’t seem to like me’.
My internal dialogue said – “Why didn’t they like me? Hmmm. They looked at me funny. They didn’t smile. Maybe they think I was talking crap, I always talk crap”.
…and so it continues.
Ok pause – really, is this true?
The more likely story – they were having a bad day? They were nervous and suffer with anxiety, so talking was difficult for them? They have their own internal dialogue going on too?
Or actually no, they might not like me, and if so, so what? Does that make me a bad person? I guess not, you can’t like everyone!
The more I look at this situation, the more I see how it can be turned into helpful energy, rather than creating a significant hole or dent in my energy body.
The more I look at this situation, the more I see it has nothing to do with the person that doesn’t seem to like me, instead it has everything to do with me.
Oh, me, not them.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”Anais Nin
OK, so, what can we do about that?
We sit with it. Give it some space, some distance. The tricky part in all this, is just letting it be. And then, it starts to feel different – I can make space for compassion, for me and the other person. I meditate on positive affirmations, I make an effort to retain my energy with some self-care by chatting with a loved one, having a long bath, taking a long walk.
Gradually, some balance is restored. Power-UP.
Yoga is the development of a relationship with our self, which exists within our core. In traditional yogic philosophy, our human nature is comprised of 5 different dimensions; the Pancha (5) Koshas (sheaths/layers), which begin at the physical body and expand out into more subtle layers. These layers can be thought of as a map, to help us understand our journey back to wholeness. Our journey back to that compassion, love and peace that is always within us.
In my classes this week, we’ve been focussing on poses that activate the Manipura Chakra such as core work, twists and diaphragmatic breathing. This Chakra is located at the navel, (the centre of vitality, controlling our energy balance) and is associated with the natural element of fire, power and sense of self. It helps us transform obstacles into assets. Physically, this is a huge benefit to the digestive system, helping us better observe how we digest food. Mentally, this also helps us better observe how we digest our actions and reactions. Poses such as Bow (Dhanurasana), Boat (Navasana), Downward Dog Knee to Nose, Triangle (Trikonasana), Seated Twists (ardha matsyendrasana), Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II), Leg Lifts on the Back (Urdhva Prasarita Padasana), Plank, and Revolved Head to Knee (Prasarita Janu Sirsasana).
In my Kids Yoga classes this week, we had lots of fun finding creative ways to activate our inner fire and power, and re-store our energy. Here are some ideas that may be helpful.
Using Gem Stones
Ask everyone to choose a stone, and hold it close to their core or belly. Tell them to close their eyes and think about what their superpower might be. Give examples like love, kindness, being funny, being a great friend, strength, helping others, or something that makes them unique. Ask them to rub their hands together to create heat (and energy – introduce the concept here), then take a big breath in through their nose, and breathe their fire breath into their hands to make the stone even warmer (repeat 3 times). Then offer them the chance to share their power with their parents/carers/others in the group (let them know they don’t have to). Ask them to place their stone on their mat, to remind them throughout the class of the power that’s inside them. Ask the children to place their palms together, breathe in and reach up to the ceiling, thinking about breathing in more of their power. As they exhale and bring their hands out wide making a big circle or safe bubble of golden energy around them, radiating their power from their core out all around them.
Using slips of paper, write affirmations such as ‘I am brave’, ‘I try my hardest’, ‘I am love’, ‘I am balanced’. Ask the children to choose a slip and welcome what it says onto their mat. Let them know it’s ok if they don’t feel those things right now, or at all. Explain these can be helpful things to think of while practising different poses, and certain poses bring out different powers in us. Depending on the ages of the children, explain what is meant by an affirmation. Throughout the class, when doing certain poses, ask who has each corresponding affirmation (each child will take pride showing the group theirs in turn, and that way the whole group benefit from them all). For example, asking who has the ‘I am balanced’ slip before practising Tree Pose, and linking ‘I am creative’ by allowing children to choose what kind of tree they’d like to be – a Willow tree, an Oak tree, an Apple tree (and move their bodies creatively to reflect these). Or asking who has the ‘I am brave, I am strong’ slip before practising Warrior Poses. These affirmations then serve as a reminder for the children, helping them connect the poses and physical movements to positive feelings and thoughts about themselves.
HA, HE, HU and Warrior Poses
Kids love making noise. We know that. It can be a release, and it plays a huge part in expression. It also strengthens their core muscles when directed from the belly. For some more timid children, making sound in a class can be a bit daunting, so allow them the permission to do this as part of a group to help them develop greater confidence.
Starting in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), lifting one knee and pressing the palms together, making the sound ‘HA’. Stepping the lifted foot back into Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1), lifting the arms up and making the sound ‘HE’. Opening into Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2), taking the arms wide and making the sound ‘HU’.
Kids love this, you can instantly feel the sense of power and energy soar in the room.
Boat Pose (Navasana), or ‘pass the ball’ game
Practising Boat Pose in pairs is always great fun, getting the children’s little cores working.
Another way to do this is as a group – highlighting how we can be even stronger when we work together. Bring the group into a circle, ask them to lay on their backs and stand on the ceiling (raise both legs up, keeping their bottoms down). This can also be done from sitting balancing on their bottoms, and lifting their legs with bent knees, but a big yogi may need to sit behind little yogis under 5 years, to offer a little more support (in case they roll back!). Then introduce an average size soft ball into the game, place it between the first person’s feet and ask the children to continue passing the ball around the circle, using ONLY their feet.
This is hard. And lots of fun.
For even more of a challenge, introduce several balls, perhaps of smaller size. This will really work their fine motor skills as well as their core muscles. They will want to rush, which will cause them to drop the ball. Encourage them to pick it back up and try again, next time a little slower and more mindful.
Pranayama: Power Breath
Fitting in with the superpower theme, let the children know that because they have used up some energy already during the class, they need to power-UP, just like you need to re-charge phones and batteries. Ask them to inhale through the nose, imagining a big sun above them. As they exhale through the mouth, ask them to draw their power down from the sun, into their belly with a ‘HA’ sound (repeat for 3-5 rounds, until they are full to the top with golden power!).
Let the little yogis know it is OK to re-charge their batteries and rest. Spend some time at the end of class talking through how they can help themselves and their friends, or big yogis, relax.
A favourite is assisted Child’s pose. Ask the little yogis to come into Child’s pose with their arms stretched in front, and ask their partners to stand with their toes pointing towards them so that little yogis can wrap their hands around the outside of their heels with their arms straight. Their partners can then apply gentle pressure (with the palms, fingers pointing out) at the base of the little yogis back and walk their hands up their spine towards their shoulders, pressing down. It’s also nice to press one hand on their sacrum on the right side, and slide the left hand diagonally to the little yogis right shoulder, pressing the hands down and in opposite directions (then repeat on opposite sides). To finish, gently press both hands on the lower back, walking them all the way down the spine to the shoulders, and squeezing or stroking down the arms to the hands and fingers.
Of course, you don’t need to be a kid to do these activities and poses.
We all have superpowers, really.
Big love X