Brighter than ever…

Standard

Post Natal Depression affects at least 10-15% of mothers…You are not alone…

If you are not sure what PND looks like, you can read more about the signs and symptoms here: PANDAS 

I experienced PND with both my sons…there were days when I felt that I had hollow bones… I would carry on my days in a drifting state of automatic mothering, smiling when expected, tending to the needs of my children, doing the essentials but I felt numb, hollow, so tired I sometimes didn’t know how I would put one foot in front of the other to leave the house…

PND left me feeling exhausted, anciently old before my time, I ached and I cried and I barely existed beyond the “good mother” persona I hid behind…

Looking back, I was in fact a good mother… My sons saved me… I knew they needed me and so I would drag myself out of bed, force myself to walk in the fresh air, idle in the park as they played, sit and chat at groups so they had social contact… Some days I would not even make it home before the tears would flow, the exhaustion overwhelming, the claustrophobic loneliness crushing my chest, and I would drop my head and sing quietly to my sons to get us to the front door, and once inside I would sob quietly and try to hide my anguish from my children…

I loved them… and kept them close, without breastfeeding and bed-sharing, I believe my own PND would have been deeper…being connected, feeling & responding to the

IMG_2512

Enter a caption

natural and all-consuming needs of my children was what kept me from spiraling deeper into the darkness… For me, the physical closeness of mothering – the family bed, nursing my sons and carrying them in slings – was the rock that allowed me to cling to reality… If you are trying to support a mother with PND, I beg you to find ways that do not remove her children from her care, she needs to feel she can focus on herself and her children… Do her dishes, fold her laundry, clean her loo… Invite her for a cup of tea and just give her a space in which to exist…

My husband took up the slack… I cooked, and cared for our children, but he did almost everything else in those months when I had nothing else to give… He tolerated the heavier work load, the lack of conversation, the loss of my affection and often just quietly held me whilst I silently cried my sorrow…

Why was I depressed? … I wanted my children… I loved them deeply from the moment I knew the new life was in my womb… I enjoyed being a mother… I just felt sad, tired, scared and overwhelmingly alone…

PND is indiscriminate and powerful… It does not just grab weak women… It is stealthy and insidious and it has a firm grip… It can last a few weeks or echo in your life for years… It does pass… And even so, there are good moments and glorious days…

PND cast deep shadows but for me, they were the balance to the brightest sunshine… My children have brought me the more delightful joy, and I cannot believe how blessed I am even now… There was a time when I did not believe I would ever have a child, but that is another story…

Beyond letting my children’s needs carry me, I found my way through with my yoga practice… Many days it was no more than chanting mantras as lullabies or spending the time it took to have a wee focusing on my breath (yes, door wide open & small people clamouring for my attention…)

Micro-practice was what pulled me back into myself when I felt I was drifting… child’s pose with my toddler tucked up underneath me, savasana with my baby on my belly, alternate nostril breathing whilst breastfeeding at 2am…and 3.30am..and 5am…

Yoga never did make me a perfect mother, it still does not guarantee me a life free of anxiety or doubt… I choose to practice & offer yoga for joyful motherhood because even when the joy is only glimpsed fleetingly through the gloom, it is worth it…

I believe that my children and I are here now because of yoga… If that deepening dark is pulling you into the shadows, I offer you yoga to bring the sunshine breaking through the clouds… The light will return, and when it does, it will be brighter than ever…

OMx

 

 

Every fibre of my being…

Standard
Every fibre of my being…

I am thankful for my body ⭐_____________________⭐

Every fibre of my being, every curve,
the public face, my sacred space,
the line of my lips, the swing of my hips, every fold, each brow furrow,
my since-spent youth,
my gently advancing age,
the maiden I was,
the mother I am,
the crone within I am destined to become,
the wild woman woven into and through them all,
memory embodied, future unfolding,
the stories held told or waiting to tell in every cell…
I am thankful for it all

Whole Self Awareness

Standard

This is a short guided meditation or relaxation, it can be a respite from your busy day or the quiet beginning to your asana practice when you arrive on your mat…Let it be what you need it to be!

This can be done seated or in Savasana. You are encouraged to release any concern about falling asleep if you lie down – after all, perhaps a little more sleep is what you most need…The practice may take you a few moments or more – take what time you can spare.  The idea is to connect to your body, your breath, your thoughts and emotions…This is about being able to use your awareness of what your body needs so that you can develop your personal practice accordingly…day to day, each time you come to sitting or to your mat…connect, acknowledge, practice…

Begin by settling yourself, allow yourself time to get comfortable…If lying in Savasana, check for a feeling of symmetry and balance around the centre line of your spine… If your lower back aches, consider supporting the knees over a bolster or rolled blanket…Let your palms rest facing the sky or place your hands softly in Yoni Mudra over your lower abdomen…

Yoni Mudra

Yoni Mudra

Bring awareness to your body….How does it feel right now? Let go of expectation about a bad back, a dodgy knee…Let your mind seek out the sensations that are present right now…Release any temptation to label them as good or bad…You are simply noticing what you feel and where you feel it…You can scan up or down through the body, or you might like to allow your mind to be drawn to the stronger sensations and work your way to the more subtle…

Slowly draw your attention from a general physical awareness to awareness of your breath…For now, simply watch, there is no need to change or consciously control your breathing in any way…Feel the physical movements and sensations of your breath…Rise and fall…Expansion and contraction…The ebb and flow of your breath…Feel its depth, its rhythm…

As you watch your breath, feel its natural flow and rhythm slow and deepen…Feel the rhythm become more wavelike in your body…Even watching the breath can allow us to breathe more freely and deeply…as we do so, our heart rate and blood pressure become slower and steadier…our diaphragm moves more deeply to massage the organs and lymph tissue in the abdomen and the pelvis, encouraging smooth digestion and improving pelvic health…As the diaphragm moves more deeply, our psoas muscles in the lower back join in the movement and can begin to receive better blood flow helping to release stiffness and aching…The adrenals sit on top of our kidneys and also tune into the deeper movement as they are connected to the movement of the diaphragm by the connective fascia of the body…so the kidneys are stimulated and massaged and the adrenals are soothed by healthy movement and blood flow, less likely now to react to small challenges as they respond to the soothing rhythm of your breath…Even simple breath awareness can immediately begin to deepen your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing…

rest is the hardest thing

Let your breath continue its soothing rhythm now…

Allow your mind to begin to notice the thoughts and emotions that arise…Each time you notice a thought or emotion, let go of it, notice the next exhalation and the next thought or emotion…Imagine that your thoughts and emotions are like butterflies, you notice them, but you do not try to catch them, simply watch them fluttering away…

Even the act of noticing you have been distracted and caught up in a thought or emotion is an act of mindfulness…Do not berate yourself for feeling distracted, simply find the next exhalation and being the process of observing again….

Let yourself rest…

When you are ready, you may like to take a few consciously deeper breaths and make some small movements in hands and feet to feel that your body is awake and that you are ready to return to your day or begin your practice.

OMx

Relax, kids…

Standard

There are many books and audio CDs and downloads for children’s yoga…The truth is, that your engagement with your child in a calming, meditation practice will inspire them more than any fancy packaging or clever marketing…If you demonstrate that you find meditation calming, if you can model how to relax, you will be providing your children with an invaluable tool…

You could begin by making a mala (traditionally, these are 108 beads, with a guru bead or tassel) – mala beads are usually strung in multiples of 9 and usually made of natural materials…for a quick craft with your children, use any thread, and use pasta, wooden beads, or plastic beads (or if you have extra time, you could even make your own fimo or air drying clay beads)…the guru bead is the point where you stop passing the beads through your fingers and go back the other way so use something larger or with a strikingly different texture, just let it add to the tactile experience of using the mala…

Mala beads for children

Mala traditionally have 108 beads

Once you have a mala…sit quietly with your child, mala in hand and get comfortable…Talk them through closing their eyes…breathing softly in and out through their nose…ask them to see how their toes, feet, legs, fingers, hands, arms, body, back, head feel today…tell them to ask their bodies to feel soft and relaxed…Once you feel they are calm, ask them to open their eyes and for the first time, simply pull the beads one by one through between their thumb and forefinger…Then ask them to keep doing this forward and back, bead by bead without crossing the guru bead (but don’t worry if they do!)…

Now, once they are comfortable sitting quietly and feeling each bead pass through their fingers, encourage them to choose a simple word to repeat with each bead – my sons both love to use Om, and we also chant Om mani padme hum often as a lullaby…Sometimes they might choose love, peace, joy…it can be any word that instils a sense of happiness and rest for them today…

Try it yourself, you can chant out loud, or in your head, you can whisper or sing out…Try it with your kids…Have fun with it and relax…

OMx

These arms of mine…

Standard

Ordinary Mama

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…

View original post 1,265 more words

Yoga Yourself Happy

Standard

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…

image

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…

Standard

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