Lillarose, Grounded Student, Age 10
(Grounded elevating student since age 3.)
It was a rainy day… A perfect day to do yoga to set my day straight and to breath in my emotions. Sometimes we feel happiness, sometimes we feel sadness, sometimes we feel joy and even stress. There is good stress and there is bad stress. It’s okay to feel these emotions. Let’s honor them all, let’s talk about it and let them guide us to be the best we can be. The Focus Five Prepare to Thrive sequence will help anyone who needs to be calm, relaxed or to become more confident.
Ever feel like a scaredy cat trying to hang out with the big dogs? Do you tend to talk too much or feel a hairball is stuck in your throat when you are around certain people or situations? Then take the lead from what cats really do when the presence of fear urges them to humbly move into the strength of Universal Support. They make themselves bigger by puffing up their back and their neck!
By opening the back body, we open to the unknown, to that which is greater than ourselves, to untapped sources of power. Opening in this way, draws in and strengthens the front body and helps us find our own inner power. The back body represents trust and support which is what we need to get stronger and to balance the opening of our heart. Breathing into the back of our hearts and lengthening our necks gives us the freedom to speak.
You have the right to purr. You have the right to hiss. Deliver whatever your expression is in our pose aptly named “Cat Scratch Fever”.
Begin on all fours. Line up your wrists under your shoulders and place your knees hip-width apart. Inhale as you spread your fingers wide and press your finger pads, knuckles and the four corners of your palms down evenly so the center of your palms will lift up toward your armpits. Lengthen from your hips up to your armpits. Exhale and soften into your back body. Soften your throat and the back of your eyes.
Inhale and slide your side ribs back, puff up your back body until you feel strong and supported. Try to even puff up the back of your neck!
Exhale and lift your tail and both sides of your throat up to move your spine in the opposite direction. With your breath leading the way, move your spine slowly and deliberately back and forth with catlike agility.
For more power, purr, “trust” with your inhale and “strength” with your exhale.
This will awaken your back body in a way that is not hardening or constricting and will bring you to a place of recognition and empowerment so that depending on your needs you can either speak easy or be silent. Breathe into the back of your heart to connect to those big dogs in your life. It will take you to a higher place, and that’s where you want to land.
You’re Up Then You’re Down is in the Twist and Shine sequence of our Grounded Elevator Pose Series. In this sequence, the focus is on the Third Chakra located in the solar plexus, the core of your body. These poses challenge you to exert your personal power and strength of character. Self-esteem is born out of actions and a direct result of the choices we make in life. We feel good about ourselves by acting in ways that show our goodness and represent a commitment to living our best life.
A strong third chakra gives us the courage to trust our gut feelings and follow our intuition. By tuning inward, you access the YOU that is connected to an unlimited source of energy available to fuel your inner fire. Each breath is an opportunity to stoke that fire and begin again. Every moment is an opportunity to say YES to life. Think of all you’ve learned from overcoming obstacles and surviving hard times. Without falling down, you would not know how to rise up. You would not be afforded the chance to pick up the pieces and create a new structure. The difference between something living and non-living is the capability of remaking itself from within. Life is emergent. Getting up is an affirmation of being alive.
Choosing UP after being DOWN is a powerful expression of YES. We vitalize the third chakra and earn self-esteem in the process of living as we face our challenges one at a time.
Begin in Mountain pose. Inhale and cross your right foot over the left. Both feet are touching the floor. Engage your core, powering your entire body. Extend your arms out. You’re up! Exhale with strength as you lower down gracefully into a crossed-legged position. You’re down! Keep your same footing and with steadiness stand up as you take a long, deep breath. You’re up! Exhale back into Mountain pose. Repeat by crossing your left foot over your right. Whether you’re up or down, the choice is yours.
I think it is safe to say that no one likes whining, but despite that fact, regardless of age we all find ourselves doing it. It creeps up on you suddenly, born out of a desire for something you don’t have, or to leave a place where you don’t want to be, or perhaps to resist somebody making you do something when you’d rather be doing something else. A whine is an irrational expression, characterized by a high pitched cry expressing dissatisfaction. No doubt, it is always irritating; hence the upsurge in bumper stickers, t-shirts and pillows boldly exclaiming “No Whining!”
At the instance of whining, we often sound like a scared, insecure caged puppy and may not even know why we are whining. What we really want is sort of hidden beneath dusty clouds. Like a child (or adult) may be whining for a cookie when what they really want is a hug. A child (or adult) may whine for a toy his brother is playing with when what he really wants is for mom to put down her phone and look into his eyes and listen. Instead of reacting with a scrunched face or anger to a whine, consider the deeper meaning and respond from your highest self.
Often we may whine about doing the laundry when the real issue is that we haven’t had a deep meaningful conversation in a week.
When we feel cloudy and grey and like there is a dust storm inside of us…we whine. When we feel powerless, helpless, and stuck…we whine. When we feel disconnected, lonely, and bothered…we whine. It’s as if we have these feelings that are stuck inside of us like chewing gum on a shoe. What is one to do?
Ground Work, of course! :
Close your eyes and connect to your breath. Bring to mind a scared puppy. Consider how you would hug that puppy and whisper that everything is going to be all right. Hug your skin to your muscles to your bones that much. Perhaps sing a song or repeat a beloved word or whisper…
From Down Dog pose, become that huggable puppy. Spread the fingers of your right hand like big puppy paws, clawing the floor. Inhale and draw power up from the earth through your arm bone and into your atrium (bottom of you heart) in front, bottom of your shoulder blades in the back. Exhale and sweetly melt your heart with puppy love. Melt the whines away. Trust the strength of your right arm to support you as you inhale and bring your left palm to the outside of your right leg. Exhale and extend out from your atrium. Press your palm into your leg and your leg into your palm- twisting to look under your right armpit. Keep your basement floor level. Inhale and switch sides. Your left arm supports while you place your right palm to the outside of your left leg. Sense your pack nearby; you may want to bark, but there’s no need to whine.
Do your part in creating more harmony in the world. Enjoy how your people respond to your clarity.
I Am What I Am Grounded Yoga Pose
SA: Touch thumb to first finger and say SA which means Infinite.
TA: Touch thumb to second finger and say TA which means Birth.
NA: Touch thumb to third finger and say NA which means Ending.
MA: Touch thumb to pinky finger and say MA which means Rebirth.
This is a traditional Kundalini Yoga chant that activates specific pressure points that help energy flow to the brain. We love this chant and first realized its transformational quality and how much all kids love it in the Radiant Child Yoga Program training with Shakta Kaur Khalsa.
Imagine yourself opening the door and seeing a gift wrapped in a beautifully decorated package labeled Special Delivery. Your face shows what you see; what you are thinking at the moment. Our first reaction when we come into contact with another human being is not necessarily an indication of what may be in our heart. How many times have you been too busy to smile and show how happy you are to see your child when he walks into the room? Have you ever been so focused on the outcome of a session with a student that your greeting is less than inviting? How can we allow our face to reflect the bright light of a child without filtering it through the preconceptions, instant judgements or clutter of the mind?
All children, especially those who have been labeled as “Special Needs,” are keenly aware of the subtle energy of adults. In other words, you can’t hide behind a smile or say one thing while believing another. They will know and what you teach them through mixed messages is that either adults can’t be trusted or that they can’t trust their intuition. Since it’s natural to notice differences as a way of making sense of things and most of us have been sizing up kids for years, that screaming kid at the grocery store, the student who doesn’t make eye contact, the boy who obviously eats too much candy, the girl who is just not paying attention, we need a surefire way to literally change our mind. The solution is simple and works every time when it is the first thing you do, always. See the good. This is the most important element to an Anusara® yoga class and (of course) Grounded teachers do it too! It is the Tantric philosophy of intrinsic goodness. When you are grounded in this truth, you realize that there is no need to fix a child but rather help to reveal the perfection that is already there. As Allison Morgan, MA, OTR and Radiant Child Yoga Trainer writes, “Don’t try to create change based on what children don’t have, or can’t do. Look deeper and acknowledge what they can do. Let them know that you notice.” What we feed, focus on and give energy to grows. Eric Handel, MD and Nobel Prize winner for work on memory says that “we can live with our weaknesses when we cultivate and grow our strengths.” It is our call to action as adults to show children their strengths.
Yoga is an invitation to this revelation. That’s why yoga helps all learning for every child. There’s a booming branch of yoga for kids called “yoga for kids with special needs.” What we have found to be true is that the yoga teachers, OTs, PTs and parents who have the greatest success stories working with this growing population treat the kids and not the diagnosis. Here are a few grounded tips.
- Look for the good first and always.
- Find out if the individual has anything going on in their life that would require you to modify a pose or a pose category such as inversions.
- Start with the breath and then move into poses.
- If a pose, a chant or a breathing technique helps the person feel better, do it often.
- Be sensitive enough to know why a child may be resisting a certain pose and change your plan when necessary.
Shakta Khalsa, founder of Radiant Child Yoga, asks the question “When you look at me, what do you see?” May you always see the gift, no matter the package.