As I sit down to write the gentle autumn sun is warming the back of my neck, and I can hear the hum of the odd bumble bee as well as the soft breeze brushing through the leaves of the trees and the occasional murmur of crows. The crows remind me of autumn but today still feels like summer despite the ripe blackberries in the hedgerows, and it’s the end of September. This month’s theme in the zoom classes has been all about re establishing those firm foundations in yoga and meditation, exploring it through the breath and the poses and examining how a good base can support us on and off the yoga mat.
Foundations are important. What do you think of when you think of foundations?
Yoga is more than just the physical postures but often the physical body is a good place to start. So let’s start there. Where you are sitting right now, where can you lean in? Do you feel supported? If not, can you change position so you do? Do you feel comfortable? When we get into the habit of finding support for ourselves, leaning in and being comfortable in our base we can then either lift up and spread out from there or sink in and let go. Both are important.
It is so simple, and yet it is a practice to keep coming back to because it is easy to forget to check in, and the body changes, we get distracted by thoughts and events, and every day is different. A regular yoga practice can help us remember to check in, to get into the habit of feeling for that support of the floor beneath us and root down.
We feel so calm and centred after a yoga class but what about taking it off the mat?
What about in your life? Where can you lean in and feel supported? Do you feel supported now? And if not can you change that? Where do you feel comfortable? Our comfort zones sometimes get bad press and we can talk about stepping outside them but it is a lot easier to step outside your comfort zone when you know it well and know you can get back to it when you need to. It is easier to do something new and challenging when we feel supported and we have the tools to get more comfortable in those challenging spaces. In contrast when we feel emotionally or physically uncomfortable and off balance or stressed, small things can feel difficult. It is in those moments we can use the tools of yoga and meditation to help bring ourselves back to a sense of calm and support from within.
Here are some tips you might try
Firm foundations – your feet are your friends
Take off your shoes, spread your toes, and feel the sensation of your feet on the ground
If you can’t take your shoes off right now, still connect to the sensations in your feet and promise them a little love later. A mindful walk in cool grass barefoot, or if you can a sandy beach or even a lush carpet. Maybe a foot bath or a few moments rubbing coconut oil into the skin at bedtime.
In your yoga poses connect with your feet as your friends. Move with awareness to them, plant the pads, toes, heels and lift through the arches, how does it feel?
Take a breath in an exhale slowly from your tummy. Bring the next two or three breaths in down low, imagine you are breathing to your pelvis and groin, that low. Take it slow and easy, no forcing. Gentle slowing and deepening.
Take between 1 to 10 minutes, just breathing slowly in this way.
How does it feel?
Often when we think of habits, we think of bad habits we want to break. What about good habits, things like brushing our teeth and fastening our seatbelts. What are the other good routines or habits you have? Maybe you do yoga regularly or you have a glass of water with a meal, maybe you routinely check on your kids or parents.
What about your thoughts? Do you have a habit of telling yourself kind useful things or are there critical things you say to yourself routinely without much thought? We spend all day every day with ourselves so what we say to ourselves matters. Today notice the thoughts that you have, maybe some are like “I should do more, “or “ I don’t have time”. What are the thoughts that repeat? Are they kind and useful? Do they make you feel supported? Maybe just for this week try choosing a positive thought to centre yourself. For example, “I am doing my best, and that’s enough.” Or “I have enough time to do the things I need to do.” Or “ I am beautiful as I am.” Repeat it in the morning, maybe write it down where you can see it. Say it to yourself when you notice the negative statements slipping in.
You might doubt the thought or feel a little silly, but these positive statements can boost our self-esteem and energy, so we operate from a happier space where we feel more supported and comfortable in our own firm foundations. Who would you rather spend time with, your critical thoughts or that nice one? Give it a go, you might be surprised at the results.