As I moved about my yoga mat this morning to explore and discover the physical direction in which I wish to guide us this week, a strong forearm inversion balance sequence, slowly unfolded.
Whilst doing this, early on in the practice, I reached out to a book called ‘My Pocket Mantras’ to gain some inspiration for the thematic direction. As I flicked through the pages I found this mantra…
“I am strong enough to handle whatever comes my way.”
“YES!” I thought.
Fires are still raging, forests and peoples’ homes are burning, meanwhile many are still fighting for equal rights and social justice, and others are fighting for their life from contracting Covid-19, and, and, and…
A ‘situation’, big or small, that requires us to draw upon our emotional and mental strength undoubtedly lies around the corner – that’s life.
Before that ‘situation’ knocks you down, now would be the time to work on ourselves. Acknowledge and strengthen our weaknesses, whilst also focussing on our natural strengths (physical, mental, emotional – all are interlinked), and believe in ourselves.
Whatever obstacles arise, adversity, heartbreak or sickness, remember you have the strength and resilience to work through or overcome it.
Sometimes strength takes the shape of resilience and perseverance, and sometimes it’s found in letting go and finding peace with what is. Sometimes it’s in drawing your energy together as a collective and making a noise, and sometimes it’s in retreating, finding silence, and working more internally.
“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.”
RESILIENCE: Origin – Derived from ‘resiliens’, the present participle of Latin ‘resilire’, ‘to recoil or rebound’. In the 1640s, resilient was used to mean ‘springing back’.
This is a theme/life lesson close to my heart, which I have personally been working with for many years so I hope you become inspired by it too.
Ways to find Strength + Resilience in a Yoga Class
- Connect with something about yourself in which you know to be strong and resilient and practice the class with the intention “I am Strong and Resilient”, repeating it as a mantra silently to yourself. This way you will genuinely believe what you are saying and by giving it energy and focus the strength and resilience will grow and manifest itself into other areas of your life. It will also give you the encouragement you might need during the harder moments in practice.
- Work with Ujjayi (Victorious) breath, which helps you build up that inner heat and fire whilst calming your nervous system.
- If you are someone who commonly holds back and doesn’t go as deep as you can in a posture due to laziness or hesitancy (as opposed to wisely easing off because of an injury) then try pushing yourself a little further, especially when you know you can do it.
- Acknowledge your mini achievements throughout the practice to keep you motivated and keep you going strong till the end.
- Specific tips for Self Practice
- Hold your postures for more counts than usual. Instead of 4 breaths try 8/10 breaths per posture. Or with each breath inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 8.
- Challenge yourself to do postures that you usually avoid because you find them ‘too hard’… within reason though!
- Strength based postures will build up your physical and mental strength and resilience.
- Postures that demand flexibility can be practiced in two ways “Active” (requiring own strength to hold the stretch) and “Passive” (with support eg.holding onto leg) both will challenge your mental resilience as you take yourself into it deeper for a longer period of time. However the “Active” stretch will also build up your physical strength.
- Balance based postures will definitely challenge you mentally, physically and emotionally. Try your best, and if you fall over, try again and again and again… don’t get disheartened. This is physical and mental resilience at it’s finest, particularly those balances that are giving you leg or arm burn from making the muscles work so hard.
- For leg strength focus on standing postures (Don’t forget to activate those glute muscles).
- For arm strength focus on forearm balances, hand-balances or inversions, or standing balances with arms extended over head.
- For core strength consciously engage those deep core muscles and your pelvic floor throughout the practice.
- For improving back strength, postures like Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Warrior 3 (Virabhradrasana 3), Locust Pose (Salabhasana), Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana) and Dolphin Pose (walk legs in then raise one leg at a time for more intensity whilst shifting weight forward onto the forearms) will all help.
Manipura Chakra (Lustrous Gem – 3rd Chakra) is associated with Strength, Power, Mastery, Deliberateness and Vitality.
Its located at the Solar Plexus and it’s Element is Fire, so when practicing yoga keep this in mind. Include core activating postures. Even in other postures which aren’t core strengthening focussed, draw the power and some extra strength from your centre, don’t rely on the strength from your limbs to do all the work.
Practice in a way that stokes up that internal heat and at the end balance the practice out with some counter postures.
- Remember to...
- Practice with heart felt intentions, not from the ego.
- Practice with a discerning mind – challenge yourself YES – push through real pain NO!
- Practice with a victorious inner smile, and know you’ve got this!
And on a final note prior to practising draw upon inspiring material. Here’s one I’ve already picked out for you to get you on your way…