Shaping Your Inner World through Challenge and Change

Wasing’s Wellness Coach and Yoga Teacher, Jill, shares some perspectives for our current times.

There isn’t one of us alive who hasn’t felt the ripple of inner and outer change these past few weeks.

Whether a bride-to-be, parent, an events manager, business owner, leader, healer, or one of our many committed frontline keyworkers; this has well and truly touched us all in some way, large or small.

This might be a moment where you stop to wonder how to tap your inner resources, or how to start simple new practices if you are feeling a little under-resourced or vulnerable.

In the coaching world, The Inner Game is a classic book from 1970’s, looking at how performance tennis players can turn their mental, emotional states to their advantage.  A smooth winning forehand, a tricky opponent, an old injury, or the odd unlucky call from the umpire that’s simply out of our hands – these are all part of the game.

In both tennis and life, the response you foster and the ability to return quickly to a steady centre means everything in these situations.

If you don’t naturally have these skills, or didn’t have them modelled for you, then how to develop them?  That’s where the practice of Yoga comes in.  Yoga is a toolkit for knowing yourself on all levels, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.  It can give us perspective and a direct way of coming back to our centre.

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Connection

The word Yoga means union, or connection.  With everyone being touched by the current situation, it has the potential to be a great connecting force, galvanising each of our individual energies towards that which is of service and deeply caring towards ourselves and others.  We’ve seen so many examples of selfless service recently, and that’s one thing I hope is here to stay.  The great news is that caring acts towards others offers the brain a boost of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, improving mood and lowering stress and even blood pressure – double win! Now is a good time to reflect on what gestures we make, as a one off, or a matter of routine, that take us towards this greater sense of connection.  This includes our own daily rituals like eating nourishing meals, getting enough movement, sleep and hydration, as well as the gestures we make towards others.

Breath

One of the simplest ways to come into direct connection with yourself is through the breath.  If you have known techniques up your sleeve, wonderful, now is the time to put them to work.  One of my favourite simple breath practices to get you started is to breath up the front of your body, from the pubic bone to the crown of your head, and breath out down the back of your body, from the head to your sit bones.   Start with 3 minutes of this, and notice the sensations, and how everything is moving in a cycle of energy.  You are noticing that you’re in the process of change and flow in every single moment, not just when these big world episodes are upon us.  This practice taps into a truth that will stand you in good stead through all of life’s ups and downs.

Yoga’s Inner States

The attitudes and energies that Yoga invites us to cultivate are plentiful, and tend to be revealed in ever more subtle layers to those who practice.  However, the good news is, knowing just a little about the inner and outer gestures of this practice is a great place to start.

Ahimsa – Practice Kindness & Compassion

Now is a great time to practice being authentically human and forgiving yourself for the natural changes and fluctuations in mood and feelings.  Some days you may feel joyful and blissed out, while others you might experience a lot of hopelessness, grief or extreme overwhelm.  To come back to kindness, start with a few deep breaths, letting the out breath grow longer and letting go with a sigh.  I love sighing as a practice, it’s as old as humanity itself and carries any murkiness away.  Secondly, bring one hand to your heart and one to your belly and have the intention of simply being with yourself, no judgement or analysis necessary.  You may like to add a specific mantra or intention like “I am here for myself while these feelings pass”.

Aparigraha – Celebrate Enoughness

Aparigraha is often translated from Sanskrit to mean non-grasping, or perhaps more apt for right now, non-hoarding!  It can be easy to turn our lens towards lack when some of the things we usually enjoy are not currently available to us – whether that’s the usual foods, entertainment, work routine or contact with loved ones.  What this yoga principle points us towards is a celebration of what we do have, and dropping attachments to things which aren’t really in the essential category.  Giving things away, especially ones you still have some attachment to, can be a great gesture of this practice.  As can noting out loud all the things in your home or garden of which there is plentiful supply – hot water,  music on the radio, a cosy bed, clean clothes, the outdoors bursting into the growth of spring.  If you are really struggling with negativity at the moment, I recommend writing down what you think of, re-reading and adding to them daily.  It forms a positive circuit loop in our systems, taking us back to a state of thankfulness and gratitude.

Asana – The Postures

The postural language of yoga is rich with archetypes and metaphor: Warrior, Child, Mountain, Headstand.  When things get tricky, we can tap into the energy of the poses and practice what the body needs on a given day, nourishing ourselves from the inside out.  We come to know the qualities of the Humble Warrior, for example, from practicing this pose daily or weekly.  Now is a great time to choose two or three key postures and try to practice them for a few minutes, daily.  Which posture you choose is not so important as how it makes you feel, the key is to keep it adaptable to your changing needs.

Here are one or two suggestions to get you started:

Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2) for grounding, strength and focus:

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Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold or Rag Doll) great for letting go in general, especially of the weight of the head and overthinking mind.  Add some swaying or twists to soften and open up the shoulders a little more.  For low energy or low mobility, you can fold forward from seated on a chair.

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Balasana (Childs Pose) for grounding, softening, and to bring comfort if you are feeling vulnerable or overwhelmed.  Great practiced over a bolster for extra soothing effect.

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Jill is currently offering yoga classes Monday-Saturday online via Zoom, as well as private yoga and coaching appointments.  To view the timetable and make a booking please visit:

https://www.wasing.co.uk/yoga-classes

Or contact Jill on 07734210330 for more information.

Once restrictions have eased, Wasing Wellbeing will be offering weekly classes again from the beautiful countryside studio, as well as regular guest teachers and forest bathing immersions in nature.

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