Monthly Archives: December 2014

Yoga Yourself Happy

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The time for reflection is not yet over, the darkness lingers and there is still time to dream….

And yet the New Year beckons and we are drawn to beginnings…

Every day is an invitation to renew ourselves, to make changes…big or small…to create a shift, find a new rhythm, live to our fullest potential…

Yoga is not a quick fix, no miracle cure, you’ll do the work and the rewards will help you find happiness if you are still searching…it cannot undo mistakes, but it can help you recognise why you made them and let you leave them in the past as you move forward…Yoga invites you to be gentle, patient and compassionate with yourself…make time for change, allow yourself space for growth…make 2015 the year you want it to be…Rumi urged us not to be satisfied with the stories if others and their successes, but to unfold our own myths…

Try these new year ideas and cultivate your contentment…

1. Sit in silence for 3 minutes a day – I’m not asking you to meditate, just to sit quietly…notice your breath, or gaze softly ahead and notice all the sights and sounds where you are right now…
2. Whenever you want to make a choice, state your intention, communicate clearly…take a moment to feel your breath moving in your body…check your inhale creates movement into your abdomen and that you feel it soften as you exhale…if you can’t breathe freely and deeply, consider adding for more time to be ready and only speak or choose when you feel connected to your breath…
3. Aim for a short but committed yoga practice every day…choose a few poses that you really feel the benefit of in your body and come back to them every day…

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If you’re stuck for home practice ideas, why not check out #YogaYourselfHappy on Instagram with Zoe, Maribel and me…we’re going to lead a practice through January to create health and happiness through simple, safe practices to help you feel stronger & more supple and improve your stamina…we will also look at how yoga can improve your mood and help you feel happier…It will be a slow, considered build up to honour the shift into the light as the year turns…join us and see what yoga can do for you…

Come and play…

OMx

These arms of mine…

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Anxiety is not a word we often associate with children, except in the context of separation anxiety, which thankfully is more recognised than ever…it opens the conversation on anxiety in our young children, beyond their babyhood and into the preschool & school ages, preceding the classic teenage angst…

All too often, anxiety in children is passed over as a needy, clingy, negative trait and not considered as a valid emotion in our vulnerable little souls…

How often have you just wanted to wrap your arms around them…?

Our young children are now more physically capable, often running, jumping, climbing with gusto and able to pierce eardrums and shake the walls with their exuberant verbal expression…but then we move to leave them at nursery or with a caregiver or with school and they turn inward and cling to our legs and beg not to be left…

They are still too small to voice this feeling that bubbles up inside and make butterflies in their tummies…they may simply be excited, but they may too be feeling nervous, anxious…

We can name this feeling for them and validate it…we feel nervous too when we have to walk into a new workplace or find ourselves in an unfamiliar social group…we may find that we are anxious because we haven’t been somewhere for a while…if we feel it, and we understand it, it is only natural that our children will feel it and that in their innocence they may be unable to communicate their feelings and not know how to describe their experience…

As loving parents, it is important that we acknowledge the need to ground ourselves and understand our own experience of the anxiety our child is feeling…It may be useful here to consider the nature of vyana vayu – this is an aspect of prana (life energy) that governs free flow of thoughts and emotions; it is an energy that enlivens the whole body but is especially present in the limbs acting as a a grounding force in the legs and as an expansive energy in the arms that manifests in their ability to offer comfort and healing…Take a look at the link in blue for more information on this energy and how to connect with it more deeply in a yoga practice…However, you can tap into this energy by standing with your feet slightly apart & parallel and feeling the connection of your feet to the Earth beneath you; start with your arms by your sides and as you inhale, bring your arms up wide in a circle to place your palms together above your head, as you exhale slowly, move your palms face down back to the start position…You can then switch to bring the arms up overhead on the inhale and then keeping your palms together, draw the arms down in the centre line to bring the hands to rest in Anjali Mudra (prayer position) at your heart centre (the middle of your chest)…Try 3-6 breaths in each movement, set the intention to feel grounded and yet filled with comforting, healing energy that you can flow from your heart centre to your hands and back again…(You can see a fuzzy little speeded up video of myself & my friend playing with this Tree of Life breath & its variation here!)

From here, you can move to be with your child in their anxious state knowing that you are ready to engage them without compromising your own emotional state…this is about guiding your child through their emotional ocean, not throwing yourself in without a life ring…

These ideas are ones that have worked for me, with my children and other children & babies that I know…I invite you to experiment with them, be creative and adapt them to your need and that of the child in front of you…

Cuddle Cat

Cuddle Cat - Yoga for Anxiety in Children

Cuddle Cat

More Cuddle Cat

More Cuddle Cat

Help your child settle into Balasana (Child Pose) and then kneel behind them with your feet close together & your knees either side of your child’s feet – fold carefully forward to rest your head against your child’s back and to enfold them in the space beneath you and inside your arms…and just breathe together and rest, and listen if they begin to chatter…be here with your child as long as they need you to be…(or as long as you have if the school run beckons!)

 

Humming Breath

You can do this yourself, or encourage your child to play a game with you…Inhaling & exhaling through the mouth, you breathe in normally and then “mmmmmmm” for as long as you comfortably & smoothly can on the exhalation (keeping lips together) and feeling the resonance of the sound in your head & body…If you hold your child close and hum it will calm & soothe you both, if you can also persuade your child into a gentle game of humming as long as you can together, you will also help them understand a way to slow down their breathing…and a long exhalation means a deeper inhalation next time, naturally creating a deeper, slower more rhythmic flow to your breath & theirs…this slows the heart rate, steadies blood pressure and has a soothing effect on the nervous system helping to reduce anxiety and also means that you feel refreshed by mindful breathing…

Chanting

Singing a favourite song, a lullaby or chanting a mantra or bhajan can all help to shift emotions and create a calmer environment…find a song or mantra that you both feel is happy and relaxing and make sure you know it well enough to use it anywhere, anytime…also great as a sleep cue at bedtime!

Validation and wish making

If your child can articulate feeling scared, frightened, nervous, anxious etc in any way, then validate that emotion…tell them it is ok and natural to feel that way sometimes…try to avoid saying “Oh, don’t be silly…” or “There’s nothing to be scared about…” or similar – they do feel what they feel, and they need to know it is ok to feel it and that they are not the only person who ever felt like that…Let them know it is good to be able to say how they feel…ask them if they feel it in their brains or in their bodies or both if they are old enough to grasp the idea of thinking vs physical feeling…Find a way to express your desire to help them feel less anxious…”I wish I could show you how strong and brave you are so that you wouldn’t feel nervous because I know that this will be great fun and I know you will be ok because this is somewhere safe and the people here love you/care about you/want you to have a great time…”…Or if your child doesn’t want you to leave try “I wish I could stay too, and I will be back as fast as I can after school/from work/etc so that we can have a really big hug and lots of fun together”…this lets them know that you will miss them too and reinforces the message that you are not leaving forever…

Planning

Sometimes, children are anxious simply because they do not know what to expect…it can be easy for us to assume that they know the routine for each day of the week or that they understand that a birthday party in a big, bright play area will be fun…but sometimes in our hurry or habit, we forget to talk to our children and let them know the plans we have so lovingly & painstakingly made for their benefit…our children get swept along in our busy lives, thrown in to unexpected excitement and new situations and the fast pace of modern life leaves little time or space for them to take in their environment and the unfolding events before they are whisked off on the next adventure or cajoled into the next activity…Develop the habit of letting your child know what is happening, when, where and with who… (or is that whom, grammar pedant though I can be, this one I never know!)

Finally, when all else fails, there is no mythical rod for your own back, and you cannot spoil a child by loving them, by comforting them and reassuring them when they are frightened or anxious…sometimes, positive touch is all that they need, not words or techniques, just your loving arms around them and the warmth of your embrace as they feel your heartbeat next to theirs…

OMx