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.
Yesterday, I was with my friend Autumn, and she wanted to go to Taco Bell, which is her favorite restaurant. The only way my mom was willing to take us is if we went to a place called “Kale Me Crazy”. Basically, we were bribed. I’m not a huge kale person, so I never even thought about going there.
A couple months ago, my mom had gone in there and gave the owner her recipe for nut milk. He turned it into a smoothie, naming it Grounded after my mom’s company. Of course, my mom ordered that one for us. It resembled the concoctions that my mom normally would make. It was a brown, grainy, mixture that literally looked like it came from the ground. I guess it lived up to its name.
Unenthusiastically, Autumn and I tried it. And we were surprised. It tasted like a healthy version of a chocolate milkshake. We couldn’t stop drinking it. Being the nice person that I am, I let Autumn have it so I could “enjoy” my kale smoothie, which was really disappointing compared to Grounded. I guess you never know what to expect.
To try this smoothie, I would recommend going to Kale Me Crazy or, you can even make the smoothie at home by blending these ingredients.
Handful of raw almonds (soaked)
3 tablespoons of raw cacao
1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
1 teaspoon of hemp protein
Handful of raw Brazil nuts (soaked)
11/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of raw honey
2 scoops of ice
1/2 cup of water
For many of us, a new year represents a blank slate, a Tabula Rasa. Imagine being able to “refresh” any or all areas of your life. Now visualize this table with two columns, Yes and No. You create your truest life by thoughtfully choosing what goes in the No column and what is a Yes. Everything you say YES to and everything you say NO to matters. What if your yes’s and no’s were tabulated and at the end of a day, week, year, lifetime, you could see how the data, otherwise known as your life, balanced out?
Think of it like playing a game. Each morning, start with a wide-open YES in your heart and make room on the table. As you go through your day making decisions, interacting with others and living your life, be aware of what you say No to and what Yes is automatically created out of that No. Conversely, what do you say Yes to and what is the No side of that decision? Before you go to sleep, check in with yourself and see if you feel balanced. You already posses the winning pieces of confidence, clarity, and integrity, so use them as you play.
No Table Yes is a pose we use to teach kids these concepts to kids. It is on the fourth floor, Balance Beam, of our Elevator Series. This floor represents the heart chakra. Balance begins with centering and softening the heart. Winning pieces in the game of life are cultivated in the heart. Courage and determination can’t be found in a textbook. Compassion and connection grow from the inside and only then can be expressed outwardly. When our heart chakra is open, these qualities can inform our mind and through our Yes’s and No’s, we create and live our truest life.
Prepare to find freedom within boundaries. Say yes to life by breathng fully and expansively. Exhale and come on to your hands and knees shoulder width apart. Ground your clawed hands and your left shin to the earth. Inhale and curve your spine, bringing your right knee and forehead together. Hug into your basement. Say “No!” to your fears, doubts and old habits that are not serving you well. Exhale “Yes!” to something new as you stretch your head up and lift your right leg straight behind you. Keep your hips level. Inhale an bring your knee to forhead. “No!” Create boundaries. Establish confidence in what you believe. Keep the sides of your neck long. Exhale “Yes!” as you kick back. Feel free and expansive. Open to your possibiities. Your spine arches and curves as you continue with the right leg three more times. Try it fast, slow, soft and loud. Repeat five times with your left leg.
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.