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.
I like to think that each finger has an emotion. Think that the thumb has happiness. Breathe in happiness and send out light. The pointer finger has sadness. Breathe in sadness and allow the light to embrace the darkness, shining out. The middle finger has joy. Breathe in joy and send out light. The ring finger has stress. Breathe in stress and allow the light to hug the darkness, sending out light. And, the pinky finger has love. Breathe into love and send out love to the world. When you breathe and press your fingers together you are breathing in all these emotions. Feeling happiness, sadness, joy, stress and love are all natural emotions. Embrace them all and honor the dark, sending out love, light and comfort. When you exhale you are allowing them out and they go into other people’s breath and out into the world.
Imagine flowers… Like a Lotus flower, they are calming. They grow in dirty waters, but are really pretty. If you are in a difficult situation remember the Lotus. You can always rise out of the muck and bring beauty to any situation.
In this pose, let your head and shoulders relax. You will go in circles and in different directions just like life will take you. Try to close your eyes in this pose. Imagine life taking you somewhere. Somewhere with a cool breeze and a gentle cycle. Then, do it one more time with your eyes open and in the opposite direction. Think about where the world is taking you. Allow the water to rinse away all the dirt that is holding you back from living your life.
WAKE UP MOUNTAIN
Imagine yourself as a mountain… Strong and with a cool breeze. Imagine you are that mountain. You are feeling all the seasons (the spring, summer, winter and fall) in one swoop of wind. Bring your arms in with an inhale and feel the wind inside you. You will realize how beautiful it is. When you move your arms up, exhale and allow the wind to breeze through the world for others to experience.
LEFT BREATH RIGHT BREATH
Imagine on one side you are breathing in your doubts. On the other side, you are breathing in confidence. With both sides there is a goodness… even the doubts. The doubts help us push through to learn how to be more confident. Stand tall and strong. You are who you are.
FOCUS FIVE: PREPARE TO THRIVE
These cards are perfect to use on a rainy day, a sun shiny day or any given day. Color, practice and breathe to prepare to thrive.
The singing bowl is just the thing to help you focus, clear your mind and set the day straight.
Have you ever head the term “The Ground Truth”? Spies say it when they want to know what really went down, no cover-ups and no interpretations. Apparently in life or death spy situations it’s important to know the ground truth in order to move forward in the mission. In NASA, the ground truth is part of the calibration process where a person on the ground makes a measurement of the same thing the satellite is trying to measure at the same time. The two answers are then compared to help evaluate how well the satellite instrument is performing.
Both definitions relate to yoga in that we aim to be transparent and finely tuned. John Friend explains that “In practicing and teaching Anusara yoga, the intention is to align with the flow of Grace, to awaken to the truth that our essential nature is part of this divine flow, and to lovingly and joyfully serve this flow.” In Grounded, we teach kids how to recognize this Ground Truth about themselves and each other so that knowing they are divine, tapping into their authenticity and serving the world from that sincere place is just a way of life. By the time we are adults, many of us are afraid to own our light, let alone shine it as bright as we can and finding our personal ground truth is hard work.
It’s easier to just not see things about ourselves (did my words crush your spirit?) or the world (genocide didn’t end with the Holocaust) or those we pass on the street (we are connected). Too often we only reveal whatis already protected and only open up to what we’ve prepared to handle. Awareness is only the first step. Upholding the truth takes warrior like courage and dedication.
The ground truth is that we all have tremendous power AND the responsibility to uplift one another with our words, influence politics and create peacethrough our actions and connect in a soulful way with strangers.
To set intentions for the New Year join us in listing the truths you’re willing to be a warrior for. What do you already know for sure and what ground truths will you seek in 2012? To state the obvious, finding the ground truth begins with being grounded. As the spies would say, this is your mission should you choose to accept it.
Prepare your body and mind for this mission with the Grounded pose, Warrior III with Intention. From Straight Leg Lunge inhale and stretch your arms forward. Stay parallel to the floor with your palms together. Interlace your fingers, extending your pointer fingers for the Intention Mudra. Exhale and lift your back leg as you shift your weight forward, both legs straight and strong. Inhale and hug into your midline, the center of the body where your core truth exists. Exhale and extend from your core in all directions so that your intention is powered by truth. Release back to Straight Leg Lunge. Jump switch and repeat on the other side.
how do you teach yoga to teens? you start by teaching Truth. speak to the highest in them. they will get it when you tell them that they are a spiritual being in a physical body and that they are immeasurably powerful. when they root their feet into their mat, into the earth in Mountain pose they will feel steady and strong; a steadiness they themselves create becomes a thing they can rely upon. when their feet are rooted into the earth, they will become rooted in their integrity. when they are faced with difficult situations they can breathe into steadiness, root into their integrity and make grounded choices.
when you have been teaching high school students yoga every week for many weeks, they are going to get it that the feelings that come up on the mat– say while holding a difficult pose like plank– mirror for them the ways they react to difficult situations in their life. they are naturally making connections between the way they feel in their yoga practice and the choices they make in their lives. they have been trusting this journey inward with you for some time now.
one day Something Horrible happens in their community. everyone is talking about It. swirling and weblike and suffocating are all of these: confusion and fear and anger and outrage and compassion and love and disdain and judgment and sadness and fear. your students have been eating and breathing and sleeping and wearing all of these for several days when you meet them on the mat. how will you teach your students the week that Something Horrible happens?
you know that you will not teach glorious poses. you sit in silence on your mat while your students file in to class. they naturally follow your lead. they sit still and quiet on their mats. for some it is still hard to sit still. you ask them to close their eyes. for some it is still so hard to close their eyes. you tell them that today’s class is about Truth. and you remind them by holding your hand over your gut where feelings come from and remind them that their feelings don’t lie. because they’ve come to expect you to talk about Real things they are really really present. you will teach your students today about allowing difficult feelings to reside within them without rushing to get over them. you will give them the most basic poses to hold, with good alignment, even when it feels hard. you will remind them that feeling the feelings is harder and higher than telling themselves a story that makes them feel better.
you tell them that, in any community, what happens to one, happens to all. just like with our heros. when the star football player makes a great play, and the team wins, we all win. we love the star player. we are the star player. i am he and you are me and we are we and we are all together. it’s the same when Something Horrible happens. we are all together in this. the highs school students align their bones, root their feet, and tether to their breathing through several rounds of sun salutations with long held planks and without any glory.
you arranged their yoga mats in concentric circles. you allowed the Something Horrible-that-happened-to-one-of-their-classmates to reside in the center of the room and you asked them to be present; to feel real feelings; to breathe into their hearts. they did all these things. they were steady and true. they blew your mind because you know lots of grown people who were have trouble being present with the feelings that came in the wake of the Something Horrible. and when your mind is blown your heart melts in gratitude… that the students are the teacher.