The Storm & The Calm Inside Us

“Fate whispers to the Warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm.’ The Warrior whispers back, ‘I am The Storm.'”

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Have you felt that storm inside of you lately? Whether it be a firey surge, rainy tears of joy, pain, sadness, surprise, windy rushes of emotion, or the tumultuous hurricane of the day to day. We feel so  much! As adults we’ve learned over our years how to harness our emotions, our “feels”, and how to manage them and conduct ourselves in a way in which we’re heard and respected ~ for the most part that is! Don’t get me wrong I’ve been known to let go, scream, cry, and be wild with emotion and That.Is.OK.

Our children are a storm of emotions as well! However, they are less “edited,” more “no filter” when it comes to how they are feeling. Screaming, tantrums, floods of tears, or ridiculous bursts of happiness, whimsy ~ surely we are no stranger to our children in these states. Our kiddos don’t always have the words for these feelings. They may not articulate, “I’m hungry and don’t want that apple. I want string cheese please.” Or, “You see, it hurt my feelings when you raised your voice and asked me to stop building Legos. I was so close to finishing my knight’s castle.” Right? Instead we hear their pure, unfiltered, raw emotion. This, my friends, is our storm. And it’s inside us all.

“You were wild once. Don’t let them tame you.” ~ Isadora Duncan.

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It is so important that we do not suppress our emotions, children or adults. We are wild creatures! Butttt…..we also need to go to work, not yell at our co-workers or cry. We need to get through a shopping trip at Target with our kiddos in tow. We need to just have Peace, amiright? And so, we work to learn how to manage our emotional states, how to identify what’s really going on (“I’m noticing you may not be hungry for that apple.” “I see that I’ve interrupted you while you’re building Legos & you may need 5 more minutes.”). All of this affirms that our emotions are real and that we recognize them and have words for them ~ angry, happy, sad, confused, frustrated, etc. And that these emotions matter.

When I sit with children in our yoga circles, I call these emotions “our storm.” Now here in Southern California we’ve all been experiencing rare storms all around us ~ intense wind, rain, hail ~ and it’s been wild! I connect the storm we experience outdoors with the storm inside us all, cultivating our understanding and recognition of the world around us.

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By making a storm with our bodies (see below), we are able to get wild, to yell, to move, to chant….and then, quite magically, to find the calm after the storm, to gradually slow down, find our breath, close our eyes. Be still as the earth after a rainfall, as puddles shelter the rain drops and slowly dissolve.

Just as our emotions create wind and thunder within us, we have the tools, the breath, to recognize the storm and return to a state of peace.

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There are many ways to build storms with our bodies. Below are some examples to try with your lil’ yogis. And from personal experience, these work for adult yogis as well ~

Wind ~ Sit in criss cross applesauce and allow the “wind” to blow you from side to side, in a circle, forward and back, to bounce. Let the wind begin to subside as you return to seated position.

Rain ~ Gently begin tapping the floor with your fingertips. Then move on to your hands. The rain will get stronger and louder. Let it go on your mat! And then gradually the rain will slow down (back to fingertips), and grow quieter until there is peace (leave your hands resting on your mat or in your lap).

Thunder & Lightening ~ From a standing position, open and close your legs & arms (as in jumping or yoga jacks). Clap your hands together to form the sound of thunder. Pause with arms overhead and hands together as though you are a bolt of lightening.

Rainbow ~ Often after a storm we see a rainbow, reminding us of the light and the magic after the storm. Let your fingers rain down to your toes from a standing position. The reach for the sun, bring your hands into your belly with a “HOT” breath, firing up your center. Repeat as often as needed, gently softening with each HOT breath. Settle into a downward dog rainbow. Relax back into child’s pose, allowing the colors of the rainbow and it’s bright light to fill you with magic, color, and light.

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Please do share below how these work for you and your family! All blessings, love, and gratitude,

Miss Beth

 

Bringing Yoga Home

Happy 2013 Friends! I read that the coming year “holds the vibration of home and family.” In this spirit, I’m often asked by parents and friends, how do we bring yoga and meditation into our family lives? As a new year’s gift to all of us, here are some thoughts on creating a yogic rhythm in your home for the whole family.
But what does this mean to bring “yoga” in? For some who are familiar and have our own home practice,  we seek to incorporate our children into our routine. This could be as simple as pulling out two mats and inviting your child to “do some poses” with you, or meditate with you on occasion (while also allowing and finding time for our own private practice!). For others who are not so familiar, this is a learning process together. How beautiful! And what a valuable lesson for our children to learn we don’t know everything…yet!

Yoga as a whole includes poses (asanas), wellness, nutrition, peaceful well being, spirituality, connection to nature and planet, and the potential for truly meaningful time together being fully present…the best gift we can give. So let’s all put our smart phones and tablets aside and start to dive deeper…..

:: First, as we do with all yoga practices, we establish an intention. Why are you interested in bringing yoga into your home? Take a look at your family “portrait,” your rhythm. What do you wish for your home? What works for you? Where can we shed some light or focus? What does it mean to bring yoga into your family? For some, this means a morning yoga practice, others meditation, for some a moment of absolute harmony, togetherness.

:: Please don’t give the process too much power. YOGA. The word, for some, is so natural. For many, so so daunting. Images pop up of 2 hour daily practices, standing on our heads with our legs wrapped like a pretzel while chanting strange vowel sounds. Let’s just toss, for the moment, the idea that it must be so regimented. This is not yoga bootcamp (there are classes for that if you are interested). If the idea of yoga is so daunting, we just won’t make it happen. Remember, it’s about our children and family. Let’s make it fun, natural, sometimes chaotic, and silly. Again, let it all evolve naturally.

:: But how do we know what to do? Videos are a great tool! And ooh child, there are some wonderful ones out there. Again, if videos aren’t your flow and you want something with less instruction, we enjoy following books together to learn and develop poses. At night, my son has taken to pulling out Babar’s Yoga Book, along with his mat, and stretching a bit before he settles in. Books are a wonderful tool to open the imagination, follow without fear of doing it “wrong,” and to expand on the stories with the poses.

(see some links below)

:: Meditation is a whole other blog post! If you have a practice again let your child sit with you for a moment, or repeat “Peace Begins with Me.” Breathe in Peace, breathe out love. Afterwards, play some music and draw together.

OK, but how are we supposed to get into the groove of all this? With school, sports, meals, carpooling, homework, oh my! It’s important to remember that small steps go a long way over time. Begin with simple things, not all at once, little by little. Here are some suggestions for placing one yogi toe in front of the other….

1. Establish a quiet space in your home. This is where you will stretch together, perhaps meditate together. Nothing fancy needs to be placed here. Perhaps just your mat, a wonderful reminder to practice!

2. Consider incorporating some small changes to your routine, in hopes of bringing more peace and harmony into your home. For example, make your bed, eat a meal together, ask questions, listen. What about our days was good/bad/happy/sad/silly?

3. Try creating one small change in your routine. Perhaps, for example, when you child wakes up, you practice one sun salutation. Or after homework, before dinner, you stretch together for 5 minutes. Before bed, you read through a book together to get your yoga. Maybe this happens only once a week, maybe every day. A little yoga is better than no yoga (at least in my world)!

A few more thoughts to ponder…

:: Have fun and be creative.

:: Let your child lead once in a while. Twisted upside down piggie pose? Sure! Let’s give it a try!

:: Sunrise and sunset are special, serene times of the day. Sunrise is hard to capture in our home, but try to get outside for the sunset when you can.

:: Dance, be silly…after dinner dance parties!

:: Play more music.

Most importantly, do what feels right for your family. I’d love to hear some more ways you bring yoga into your family’s life. Please do share! And Namaste dear friends…

Yogi Beth

Resources (Please note this is an ongoing list. Feel free to add your personal favorites in the comments!)
Videos
Books