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.
Three years ago…a five year old Grounded Kid said her favorite pose was “Flat Like a Pancake”. It was actually not an official pose, but rather a transitional phrase from Gratitude pose to Snake pose. To honor the wisdom and innocence of this child, we decided to make “Flat Like a Pancake” a pose that’s part of the Grounded Elevator Series. Read on to see how to griddle some pancakes the “Grounded” way.
When cooking pancakes keep this in mind:
Each pancake needs their own space on the griddle.
If one pancake is not squeezing their legs or firing up their hearts, it will affect the whole batch.
When the pancakes breathe together, the results are more delightful.
Groundwork: From Gratitude pose, exhale as you pour yourself down onto your belly. Fill up with breath and bring fluffiness into your short stack. Keep your hands actively clawing the griddle in line with your chest. Squeeze your legs together for the fluffiest and lightest pancake possible. Inhale, draw your leg muscles up toward your center as you lift your arm bones toward the sky. Exhale, root your tailbone down until your belly lifts in and up. Reach your chest forward and make a silly face.
Like pancakes hot off the griddle, continue to fire up all your muscles, creating enough heat to allow your heart to melt just like real butter on your favorite pancake! When you breathe into your back body and puff it up with bubbles, you are ready to FLIP!
Can you stay big and light and fluffy and together and Flip over? Did your belly get lumpy? Did you fall apart?
You don’t want to be dense and bland or runny and gooey. Find the balance. Keep your edges strong and crisp, and breathe evenly so you cook all the way through.
If your pancake is runny:
1st check hands. Concentrate on All finger pads and knuckles. They must ground into the earth. Stabilize your forearm until they feel solid. Focus on keeping your arm bones up. For best results, gather heat from your palms all the way to the back of your heart. Settle your shoulder blades in toward your heart. Stay connected to your hands, arms and legs. Squeeze your legs until you feel cohesive. Allow any excess tension to drain off into the griddle.
If your pancake is dense and bland: Receive your breath. Breath deeper. Soften your eyes and throat and skin more. Possibly separate legs hip distance apart. Can you make this pancake new?
If your pancake is thick and sticking to the pan: Follow your breath. Breathe more fully into your back body so your front ribs will move back. Keep the fluffiness and melt your heart. Flow your inner thighs down to the griddle. Express your emotions. Make a smiley face or silly face.
If the belly of your short stack is lumpy: Fire up your legs, lengthen your tailbone and scoop it more fully. Notice how your breath gets more expansive and you gather more length from hips to armpits.
If your pancake is burnt: Slow your breath and movement down and really pay attention to where you are.
If your smell doesn’t cause others to exclaim “Hey what’s cookin?” Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
Be aware of extra ingredients in your personal batter. You want sweetness, like chocolate or berries. Even some nuttiness will add excitement to your short stack. Stay clear of anything bitter, sour or hard.
Shine out from your center so much like the golden hot cake you were born to be. Allow Real Syrup or Butter to melt your heart.
Enjoy your thin layer of sweet crust and from deep inside, radiate your light, fluffy, beautiful warmth.
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.