Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Get a yoga mat

Sometimes living can have a way of bringing you down. It happens. Shit happens. And even - yes, even the lions and the mountains and the duracell bunnies - even the strongest of us can feel the weight. For example ;) Take one woman with sleep deprivation, add a demanding adorable infant, a super-hyper charismatic energetic dog and the responsibilities that you accumulate just by being part of this great cosmos, and what do you get? Weariness. Lowered resilience. Fatigue. A permanently aching right shoulder. 

Connecting the dots Snoopy style ;) 

If you haven't even the energy to nod your head in recognition of this common human condition that I've just pictured for you by tweaking the electrical impulses of your brain, don't sweat ;) Here's a couple of things to draw on when you're in just such a state...

Get a yoga mat. 
I love my yoga mat, it's beautiful. It's a dark red colour that just screams of earthiness and groundedness (a new word - I know!). It has been with me since 2008 when I completed my yoga teacher training in the beautiful Sivananda ashram in Tyrol. Every time I see it my brain automatically shifts to calming mode. There was a time - pre motherhood - when I used to carefully and lovingly roll it up after every use and put it back neatly in the corner - back in its  own special corner. Nowadays that just takes way too much time and it is permanently unfurled in the chill-out room of the house. This means that at any opportune moment - a five minute nap by Baby Alannah or a 15 minute take-over of all responsibilities by my beloved - I can enter the chill-out room, lie on the mat in savasana (relaxation or corpse pose) or sit in lotus pose (or whatever sitting pose is easy at that particular time) with eyes closed and transform my mind and body to a stress free state. Sweet. And oh so fundamental for a balanced mind. 

Lotus peace

Make a chill-out corner.
See above. This has to be a place where there is no domestic intrusion - no clutter, no mess, no hint of the un-necessary. If you don't have a room, then make a corner do the job. This is the space where there is little or no conversation, no nonsense talk and no stress. Only peace. This is the place where you can lie down on your yoga mat or sit in your favourite chair. This shall be known as the 'just be me' zone. If you have a place like this outdoors, even sweeter.

Lie on your mat, in your chill-out room, or sit in the space that is the best energy space for you - outside can be amazing (see above). Think sun kissing your face or starry night above, or if you;re lucky enough think boat on the water. Close your eyes first. Become aware of your breathe. Focus on this alone. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. If your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. Say the words out loud if you need to, or just mentally repeat in your head if you're back on the commuter train. Inhale deeply. Make the exhalation longer. Deeper. Longer. See? Do this anywhere and everywhere. If you have a chill-out place and a yoga mat, great. If not, I've found this to be a really effective breathing relaxation technique for anywhere - from standing washing the dishes to feeding the dog. Or cleaning up after the dog. And sometimes there can be a lot of cleaning up after the dog. See previous blogposts about the family dog - Holly.

Look up at the night-time sky.
Okay, so this can be difficult in Ireland at times. But when the stars do appear through the  heavy cloud mat, they shine brightest in our Atlantic corner. See those stars? You are made of the dust of stars, all of which were once connected together in some form at the beginning of this time and space as we know it.  All born together in some spectacular awakening explosion. How lovely that I get to sing a nursery rhyme about stars every time I am singing Baby Alannah to sleep....twinkle twinkle little star... While you're watching the stars, breathe. See above. 

Give thanks for being a player in this vast universe.
Even if you don't feel it, say it. Say it while you're watching the glorious night-time sky, say it as a shooting star plays tricks with your eyes and your mind; say it as you follow your breath; say it as you stand at the sink; say it as you sing twinkle twinkle little star for the thousandth time; say it on your mat in your quiet chill-out space. Say it and you feel it. And then every cell within you feels it. It's a warm feeling that is probably the human equivalent of plugging ourselves back into the mother network to recharge. 

Give yourself a big, fat, unconditional and generous hug.
Do this as you stare up into the night-time sky and watch the stars that are millions of light years away. Stand straight and tall and strong - think mountain, graceful, strong, defiant - and raise your arms up wide to the side and then bring 'em in slow and give yourself one hell of a hug. Don't feel weird about it. Not only are you gifting your shoulders the stretch that they need after the daily toil; not only are you releasing stress that has accumulated in your neck; not only are you making use of your own amazingly constructed and useful arms - not only all this...but, as well as all this you are hugging a great work of art, the product of millions of years of star crashing and galactic explosions, and an expression of the vast and great and awesome universe itself. Now don't you think you deserve to be hugged? If you have someone beside you give them a hug too. It's just as nice for them too as it is for you ;) 

Take the time to watch it all.
Now that you've hugged yourself and maybe someone/something else (Holly the dog loves hugs too), take a few minutes to sit back and wonder at it all. Close your eyes if you have to. Picture you sitting/standing/lying where you are and just see yourself as part of it all. Part of all this wonder and awesomeness. Part of it all, connected.  And all the time your breath is the thing that keeps you connected. And I bet with all that thinking about all that awesomeness you'd completely forgotten all about the breath...on your yoga mat, in your chill-out place, outside, watching the stars, connecting...

And see? You didn't have to spend one penny to do it...except of course if you had to buy the yoga mat...

Be kind to yourself, see the amazing, be the amazing, breathe it all in, stay connected. And once that's all done you can get back to being the awesome person that you need to be, that you want to be and that you always dreamed of being. 

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