YOGA THERAPY FOR BURNOUT PREVENTION & RECOVERY

YOGA THERAPY FOR BURNOUT PREVENTION & RECOVERY

Burnout is often a slow slide of unconsciously neglecting ourselves. To tend to our wellbeing and health is as essential as any other aspect. Within us the aspects of self-knowledge, self-care, building strength and adaptability through self-acceptance and expression, all need a little TLC daily. Just as we tend to the gardens of our career and relationships, learning to tend to ourselves is fulfilling, rewarding and deeply nourishing not only for ourselves but for all those we love and look after. And essential to living well and reclaiming the wellbeing we so desire. Download PDF for easy tips.

Our present stress epidemic results in 80% of doctor visits. 52% of professionals are at risk of burnout. And 80% report that their stress is work related. Burnout affects two thirds of employees mental, emotional and physical health[1]. Burnout prevention prevents employee absenteeism.

Burnout that is left untreated can lead to chronic depression, anxiety attacks, a loss of control and self-confidence, as well as heart disease and high cholesterol. Worldwide 615 million suffer from depression and anxiety, costing US$1trillion each year in productivity[2]. Both yoga therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy are equally effective, and even complementary, in prevention and recovery of burnout,[3][4] because we work top-down and bottomup; meaning we use cognitive as well as somatic and sensory restoration and reintegration to heal deeply and allow the calm to move through our many layers.

Symptoms

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Disturbed sleep and biorhythms
  • Low immunity and confidence
  • Digestive issues and lack of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mental distancing and skin problems
  • Lack of focus and decision making
  • Chronic fatigue and depression
  • Darkening of skin pigmentation of face, especially around the eyes

Causes

  • Long work hours, excessive work, workplace politics, perfectionism, job insecurity[5]
  • People pleasing, our own sense of never being good enough or doing enough
  • Too many responsibilities, choices, roles, expectations
  • Insufficient rest, family time and time management

Excessive intake is a major culprit to mental and emotional overwhelm- We take in more information in one day than someone did in a lifetime 150yrs ago![6]

Treatment & Strategies

  • Social support
  • Yoga Wellness & Resilience Training[7] that includes
  • Rest and relaxation techniques
  • Physical strength building
  • Physiological regulation
  • Hormonal homeostasis
  • Vagal tone
  • Mindfulness 
  • Emotional literacy training
  • Recognising and creating boundaries

Taking time to process the INTAKE; information, media, conversations, social interactions is done via OUTPUT; rest, pause, physical activities, yoga, meditation and creative work or journaling.

Yoga Therapy Wellness & Resilience Training

Yoga therapy wellness trainings use both the body and the mind; top down and bottom-up approach, creating an integrative and effective strategy. Reclaiming overall wellbeing with longer lasting benefits due to body awareness and self-knowledge, allowing continual self-regulation long after the training or therapy is finished.

In the next 6 weeks I’m going to share with you the six steps to a quicker recovery, a better prevention techniques and results based steps needed to ensure we don’t slide into the old habits that brought it about in the first place. These help us gain body-awareness, effective self-care, emotional agency, mental clarity and enable physiological self-regulation.

Knowing ourselves and listening to our bodies cues, we understand our needs, abilities, weaknesses, boundaries and goals, both personal and professional. Boundaries require a healthy sense of self from which to feel our emotions and distinguish them from others. Enabling us to discern our needs, wants and abilities for physical, physiological and psychological. 

6 Weeks to Reclaim Wellbeing

Week 1 Self-knowledge Understand your personal health needs, abilities, boundaries, weaknesses and goals. Re-evaluate.

Week 2 Self-care Learn how to move from fight/flight mode into rest/digest to heal and restore. Relax.

Week 3 Strength & Resilience Build physical strength to improve physiological homeostasis; mood, energy and bounce back. Resist.

Week 4 Adaptability & Flexibility Physical, emotional and mental flexibility equals adaptability to life’s changes and challenges. Revitalise.

Week 5 Emotion & Expression Clear emotional expression affects physiological and hormonal health beneficially. Reclaim.

Week 6 Mental Clarity Vagus nerve activation improves mental calm and clarity ensuring wellbeing and self-agency. Reintegrate.

Benefits of Yoga Wellness & Resilience Training

  • Learn techniques to access vagal parasympathetic activation for rest/ digest, tend and befriend
  • Gain self-awareness, mindfulness and associated mental calm, focus, solution identity and clarity
  • Improves physical strength, biorhythms and diaphragmatic breathing
  • Increases physiological homeostasis, energy levels, self-regulation and agency
  • Decreases sense of loss of control, emotional reactivity and exhaustion
  • Improves Sleep health, Digestion, Breath capacity, Energy levels, Sense of connection

Immunity & Sense of Self, Mental focus, Mental clarity, Adaptability, Ability to relax, Emotional availability, Mental presence 

Be Moved Feel alive & Move Into Living Well with and through your own effort, knowledge and some very simple and effective tools.


[1] https://www.actec.com/2018/09/17/how-to-prevent-employee-burnout-absenteeism-and-turnover/

[2] https://everyonesocial.com/blog/employee-burnout-statistics/

[3] https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-018-2141-9

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32805013/

[1] https://barendspsychology.com/burnout-facts/

[1] Fiona Agombar, Yoga Therapy for Stress, Burnout & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 2021, Singing Dragon.

[2] https://hbr.org/2019/12/burnout-is-about-your-workplace-not-your-people

FROM GUILT TO PLEASURE

FROM GUILT TO PLEASURE

Playfulness, our ability to go with the flow, reflects our feelings about our relationship with the world. Pleasure is the emotional charge of a playful bodymind. Guilt or severity its opposites. Do we feel free to have fun and enjoy, do we always need to control otherwise we feel guilty, or do we just let it all go whatever direction?

Pleasure, like water, seeks movement and the easiest course, finding joy and play in whatever arises. It accepts and lets go of the illusion of mastery and control, willing to see where experiences take us, without holding back or resistance. Water, like our senses, are meeting points for our inner and outer worlds and the enjoyment from that volantary sensual exchange.

When we resist pleasure, either because of a sense of guilt, lack of playfullness and curiosity, or our seriousness, we resist prosperity. Guilt restricts, closes down our sensual joy channels. Because our original emotion is bliss, our movement or lack of it, determines the how this emotion transforms into another expression.

To flow fully the banks of our joy need to be both firm and free, just like our tissues, mind and psyche.

Energetic Holding Patterns 

Excessive stress causes unnecessary tightening. Blocking ease and our ability to flow, physically, energetically and mentally. Chronic holding patterns might express themselves as guilt, rigidity, controlling, critical, too serious, self-conscious, or lacking spontaneity and playfulness. The river of abundance, prosperity and possibilities dry up, along with our creative and joyful juices. 

Not enough stressors can leave us with excessive emotions as our energy reserve overflows. Without containment, we may feel overly emotional, watery, let our energy gush from us without discernment and end up feeling drained, lacking, down, lost; our energy and emotions directionless. 

We might have a combination of both holding patterns simultaneously. 

Translated to our energy body, we might not feel contained and able to respond with integrity to a given situation. Resulting in further controlling or flooding. Unconscious guilt might then drive our relationships, projects and beliefs. And emotions are energy in motion, holding the energy or leting it gush, wastes immense, enjoyable energy, and we don’t even notice it.

Hiranyagharbha, our Golden Womb needs to be honoured and felt. 

Pelvic Flow is the Key to Pleasure  

Releasing tension and creating integrity of our sense of self in relation to the world, feels like flow, fun, pleasure and prosperity naturally arising like a bubbling spring.

The key to pleasure is movement and pelvic health. Like water, the pelvis loves to flow and move. To play out the constant ebb and flow, give and take. This ensures and allows us to contain our sense of delight and joy. It enlivens our abundance.

As babies, this abode of joy and delight is with what we began to crawl. We use our pelvis to propel us forward and move into the world. This exploration of feeling for ourselves creates pleasure. When my toddler first moved herself toward that which she wanted to experience, there was sheer joy, wonder and excitement all rolled into the propelling motion of the pelvis. This is essence of moving into bliss. This endeavour to sense the world also created our lumbar curve. Our ability to relate, connect and withdraw. And our first impressions of sensual experiences, plus the first arising emotions, are all contained here. 

Create Pelvic Integrity to Enjoy Life More

To create pelvic integrity and enjoy life fully we need to get to know this area. We need curiosity and playful minds to move past our guilt and expertise. Body awareness and self-knowledge leads to self-esteem. Begin to strengthen and relax this area, until all the tissues and energy flows freely and feels firm, simultaneously. This is how we transform guilt into pleasure. Holding both simultaneously.

Ask yourself in difficult areas of your body, What holding patterns do I have here?

Are some muscles really tight and resist letting go?

Are there parts that let it all gush out, leaving me drained? 

After you feel if you hold or release excessively, you can build back the integrity of this area by doing strengthening movement that warms up this area, and slow soft, stretching to open and release the tissues.   Create firm freedom. 

Be present with sensations in our pelvic area. Think of it’s ability to create another life, and all our projects and creations begin in the Golden Womb. The potential combinations of the inner and outer world coming together in countless ways. The pure potential alive here. It’s time we enjoyed what is instead of thinking what isn’t. It’s time to drop our uncertainty and walk into the world with a sense of certain delight, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in.

Life is amzingly wonderful and AWEsome first and foremost.

Joyous and prosperous in each moment, as water moves, content and playful, our Golden Womb contains the feeling of all I need to fulfil me is within me and in each and every moment.

In what ways can you feel more curious, playful and joyous?

With Love,

Shira.

YOGA & SPIRITUAL BYPASSING

YOGA & SPIRITUAL BYPASSING

Spiritual bypassing can feel good for a while, sometimes a very long while, but at some point we hit a wall. And the practice we once loved seems to fail us, and we’re going round in circles. This is when we hit a crossroad of transformation or degradation.

Do we stay or do we go? Do we move through or bypass? Will we choose to go all in and expose our ungainly self, or do we opt for ease and deny the diffculties ahead? Moving through is the fulfilling opportunity to growth. To remain with and hold space for, our dark, earthly solidity moves us into the light of consciousness and soul, in an encompasing awareness of our full potential.

Immature Understanding

When I first started out on my spiritual journey, I was 15years old, and naively believed being really, truly spiritual meant transcending the world and all our material, maternal, and nutritional needs. Even our need for social connections. Detachment was high on my list of values. Being a free and spiritual adventurer I’d managed to escape being social for decades. No material plans, constraints, agendas, desires or goals. I felt extremely spiritual, non-human. Highly esteemed in my bubble.

 

Facing Our Shadows

Becoming a mother of a very social child burst that bubble. After giving birth to my daughter personal development quickly shifted from spirituality to social-ability. Forced to be part of society inadvertently I discovered I actually love people. I love learning, sharing and exchanging. It also revealed my many weaknesses and blind spots. Limiting beliefs, scarcity mindsets, my escapist attitude. Non-realistic ideals. It left a lot to be desired. Especially as a mother in a complex culture influenced largely by domination structures of patriarchy.

The gap between on the one hand, unfulfilled desires and projected fears, and the other transcendental living, was now a huge cataclysm. I saw no support, community, shared insights and wisdom to guide my choices as to what’s a healthy way to live in a world placing productivity and financial gain above nurturing and caring. I saw no examples of conscious, empowered, single mothers creating change in their communities in modern western culture. Was it me or my mindset?

 

The Gifts of Our Shadows

Spiritually bypassing our biggest chances to face truth, the good, the bad and the utterly ugly, to grow and transform, are sacrificed for glory and gratification.

To be truly spiritual means taking a good look at our ways of relating to self, other and world. As a young mother, and out of desperation and frustration at being such a beginner again, I asked my meditation teacher Rose Baudin, what my purpose was. She answered clearly and without further ado, “Whatever is in front of you at any given moment is your purpose. You’re a spiritual being having an embodied experience”.

Though that didn’t quench my thirst then, it sure has been my experience since. And the more I accept and appreciate this embodied life and the limitations we experience being in a body, the more I’m driven to find intelligent and integral ways to communicate, relate and connect. It’s the only way to live fully. To honour this gift called life. Handed down to us through billions of years of incredible evolution, biological intercommunication across species and time, transforming constantly.

 

Ayurveda & Yoga Enable Transformation

Without Ayurveda, Yoga has the potential to become superficial at best. Ingraining already present patterns of ego, separation, coping mechanisms, defences, projections, and escapism, into deeper grooves. The abuse of power we’ve seen surfacing in nearly all patriarchal yoga traditions in the last years are devastating examples of bypassing unresolved and suppressed psychological domination patterns. The ingrained, violent and misdirected frustration, domination and exploitation of races, minorities and diversities. Which literally is the life-line that makes our world so colourful and beautiful.

Transforming our wellbeing, includes transforming our world and societal structures. We need to face the underlying currents and belief systems. We have to see these examples as deeper issues revealing our world cultural tendency toward power abuse, fear response and deep distrust issues. For this to happen we need inclusivity of all aspects of living, which includes our emotional selves. Emotions are the rivers of sensual joy, beauty and intelligence flowing through us. Connecting one to another. It’s the blood connecting all social species.

 

Emotions as Clues

Because Ayurveda looks at emotional states and sees the imbalance, or direction of our mentality and physiology, it adresses spiritual bypassing. Emotions are so often misunderstood, supressed, managed, repressed, unexpressed and redressed. Emotional intelligence and empowerment allows us our access, desire or knowledge to the power behind any emotion.

Emotions are passion, the opposite of patience, but a powerful force when we learn to ride their waves.

A potential we should explore.

A deep journey. One that can feel dangerous, difficult and painful if we don’t feel supported by others, through this process. When we internalise unexpressed painful or difficult emotions, because our company can’t handle them, enough times, it becomes a trigger. A tricky and painful place. Left unheard and unseen, a traumatic feeling. All of us have experienced trauma, small or large T. We all have some struggle, growth and trauma process to move through. And the emotions and memories associated with that can overwhelm us when our emotional repertoire has been kept limited and restricted according to outside values.

Leave this terrain completely unexplored and we have spiritual bypassing.

Include & Move On

Often we need to leave behind certain things. Things which have been the backbone to our entire way of living, functioning and relating. Limiting thoughts and habits, family traditions, beliefs, activities, cultural ways of coping, defence mechanisms, and ways to relate to others, handed down by anyone we’ve identified with in the course of our life. The tribal mind.

Psychologically leaving behind the tribal mind can feel life threatening. Like we’re going to die. Because for 2 million years of evolution, leaving the tribe meant death. It’s only since 10,000 years we live with some guarantee of safety. And only since fifty years we, as individuals, dare to speak our truth. Other values. It’s a psychological and emotional leaving the nest.

Once we see the underlying beliefs and associated pain, emotions, fears and insecurities, and own that story, no matter how gory, we can move on. We don’t need to be blameless and shining beacons of spiritual glory. Being a good, honest human is liberating not just for ourselves, but for all those who experience the imperfection of being human.

To move through is the opportunity to grow fully. To remain with and hold space for, our dark, earthly solidity moves our shadows into the light of consciousness and soul, revealing our full potential.

Much Love,

Shira.

WITNESSING AWARENESS, LIGHT IN THE DARK

WITNESSING AWARENESS, LIGHT IN THE DARK

Travelling through our physical body with asana, our energy body with breath and our mind body through mindfulness, concentration and internalisation, we touch our psyche, unconscious patterns and emotions through meditation.

Once we clear some of the dross of the unconscious, we sometimes land in our witnessing awareness. A space of pure potential and calm awareness, untouched yet deeply responsive.

Full and simultaneously empty is our witnessing awareness. That’s when we get to our bliss body, the mother of emotions.

Witnessing Awareness & Holding Space

Our witnessing awareness leads to emotional wellbeing by holding space.

As emotions are divine life energy expressed through us, we don’t need to suppress or reject these feelings. We just need to hold space for their full fruition. When we surrender, feel and deal with them, we release and heal ourselves. Just witnessing our emotions, their rise, blossoming, withering and fall, and our reactions and thoughts toward that process, dissolves them and is our path to bliss.

Witnessing Awareness, the Light in the Dark

Harmony, as an emotion, allows our silent witness to come to the forefront. Our mind, no longer disturbed by the apparent reality of the endless separateness within manifestation, can see the big picture.

Cessation of manifesting our projections brings about a standstill of illusion, and an end in our experience of Samsara. Every moment presents us with the choice to enter the River of Life with its continuous flood of changing forces and forms, or not.

Sitting on the bank of the River and find our centre and seat, our Asana, remaining calm and reflective, we’re no longer uprooted by Samsara. The choice is always there and always ours to make. It’s our light in the dark, our sun in the world and our soul that guides us in this journey through life. It’s our deepest yearning that never leaves us, our profoundest aspiration that drives us, no matter what. It is the witness that truly sees and feels this Miracle called life.

We can feel harmony by burning emotional toxicity through a healthy energetic, mental and psychological fire.

Our Fire is Key

Agni, or fire, exists at all levels of being.

In our physical body it’s our digestive fire transforming food into tissues. In the pranic body cellular intelligence absorbs breath and converts it into prana, life energy. In our mental body it’s the power to perceive impressions and inflect them into knowledge. In the intelligence body it’s the power to discriminate burning all untruth until only truth remains. In our most subtle body it is our ability to distil love from each experience.

We can encourage Agni in each of the five Koshas so each aspect of our being has a well blazing fire. A healthy fire digests and consumes all experiences and transforms them into understanding, wisdom and compassion. An overfed fire rages and overconsumes, wasting resources. We can also fail to tend our fires and let them go out so that our experiences are not digested, understood and leave residues and toxins. Or we can attend to our fire sporadically and create a fire that causes smoke, waste and confusion.

So the impressions we take in all these bodies, and the activities or outputs of all these, need to be balanced according to our needs, desires and abilities, to create a brilliant fire on each level.

Living With the Witness

Our journey this last year to develop a healthy fire in our five bodies, we discover many wonderful emotions and reclaim our passion for life.

Safety and trust as our root, playfulness and joy as our sacred basin, belly radiance and a forgiving fire, a heartful of peace and connection, creativity and communication as our expression, and intuitive vision and wisdom from our third eye. Facilitating feelings of unity, divinity and creativity. Able to witness the One-in- All and in ourselves. A goodness within of loving, warm, fuzzy, welcoming space where all is possible, recognising that we are all.

Being fully present and aware to just witness the beauty of life unfolding with or without the clouds across the lake, our mental mirror isn’t fragmented. There’s no need for expectation or condemnation, nor desire or aversion. With a witnessing awareness we can hold space for the full conundrum of life.

This Mysterious Miracle called life or Lila, becomes apparent, we are instantaneously transformed, completely bound in relation and freed from all karma at the same time. It’s our connection point to universal Prana, witnessing awareness and pure potential.

Witness Awareness Practice

Today’s live has a short 10 minute practice, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4qgHurbdes

The very real experience of ‘I see me in All’, and, ‘I see All in me’. It’s the essence of knowing That I Am, Tat Aham.

And all is welcome to come and go.

We can only reach the heights when we dare to explore and embrace the lows. We each are worlds of extremes and imbetweens. And life is full when we allow our self to move through the full range of mountains, valleys, seashores and oceans depths. Be well, be kind, be great and be the whatever you feel you need to be in this moment.

Much LOVE,

Shira

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF YOGA

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF YOGA

Yoga and Ayurveda are all about relationship. To self. Other. Environment. Planet. And everything in between, from Matter to Spirit. 

Understanding and working with our wisdom and psyche body leads to healthy relationships. It’s the psychology of Yoga and Ayurveda.

The psychology of Yoga releases limiting beliefs and patterns, making space for generous and autonomous beliefs and values. An accepting and broad perspective without compromising our own views and feelings. Transparency coupled with inclusivity. Accountability. Integrity to the fullest sense of the verb.

Relationships Form Our Beliefs About Ourselves & World

We all desire and deserve healthy, deliberate, conscious and compassionate relationships. To self and other. 

It’s our first and most primal need. 

Moving through our relatedness, naturally experiencing our interconnectedness, is the deepest desire of the expression of duality. All of us seek union. Consciously, or not. At heart all of us are compassionate and caring. Honesty, generosity and autonomy is inherent in every human. Whether we express it depends on our earliest ‘training’ in relationships. What is the experience of being separate and held by another?

Relationships are the first educator of our wisdom and psyche body. Most impressionable from conception till the first 3 years of life. Anything we learn and experience repeatedly with those caring for us, intensely shapes what we believe to be a truth. Our values or conviction? Deeply rooted in psyche as personal experience shared with those we most, or must, trust. 

We understand our experiences by comparing them to other past impressions and from that draw conclusions and understanding of the world around us. A template. Context of what’s ‘normal, right, wrong’. From it we create our wisdom treasure trove. And seeing in our earliest years of life, we can’t give voice, verbalise or express, we internalise. These form our deepest known truths. Our wisdom and values. 

These beliefs colour, filter and light what we accept and reject. Run to or from. Our beliefs about ourselves, relations, intimacy, environment and world. Forming our future.

Emotions & Our Psyche

The intensity of emotions associated with our experiences, affect the depth of our convictions. And tenacity in memory. The earlier the unconscious training, the deeper. Implicit memory. Called Samskaras  in Sanskrit, and inner drives, in psychology. Open Pandora’s box or patterns from preverbal infancy push and pull at us our entire lives. Patterns needed then to adapt to contemporary circumstances were healthy, but most likely not serving us now. 

Honouring our sense of self, our identity and integrity, and we begin to respond instead of react. We feel infantile in these situations first. Then new, young and fresh. Ripe. Capable and connected. Interdependent and autonomous.

Allowing us to be more accepting of self and others. The first doorway, Ahimsa, self-love and self-compassion, leads to self-knowledge and self-care. Accepting our perfect imperfection. Opening the windows and doorways for others be perfectly imperfect too. Spaciousness makes way for our sense of responsibility. And for our need of boundaries. Opening a space for others to do their part in the play of each other’s lives. 

The very first baby steps. 

Problems and differences are no longer personal.[i] Just two people seeing and experiencing in their unique ways. We can accept conflict as part and parcel of life. Compost for growth. And dare to confront people without fear of rejection or abandonment. We separate issues from people.[ii]

The Psychology of Yoga

This is the psychology of Yoga.

With this accepting stance Pandora’s box won’t overwhelm us. So we take these baby steps, again and again, to bolster us. So that when we take a good look at our wisdom body’s perception, emotions, choices, reactions, and eventual actions, we’re forgiving, compassionate and honest. 

Our psyche and wisdom body’s main purpose is integration. To make sense and give place to all events, experiences and expressions in relation to our internal perception, reception and mental digestion. The continual shifting between internal and external world is communicated through our emotional states.[iii] The intimate space where our soul and the material world interact, exchange and co-create energetic changes through emotions. The prime motivators in social species.

It’s the body of wisdom and perception, and often the root cause of dis-ease. Even at the biological level. Experience and belief. It’s the part of us that’s intuitive and receptive. Reactive. Respond-able. Responsible. Integrating this body of lived experience equals wellbeing.  

Understanding our inner drives and uprooting our deepest fears we undo the knots of past impressions. Move into fulfilling, rewarding, delicious relationships. Less running around in circles accusing, arguing, coping, walking away, blaming, shaming. More connection and real relation. Fully present.


[i] Melody Beattie – Beyond Codependency

[ii] Melody Beattie – Beyond Codependency

[iii] Daniel J. Siegel, Interpersonal Neurobiology, 2012, W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.

YOGA TO EMPOWER DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

YOGA TO EMPOWER DURING DIFFICULT TIMES

Yoga to Empower Emotions During Difficult Times

I’ve been on a journey of reclaiming wellbeing since I was young. Passionate about finding answers to pain points for loved ones and understand health on all levels, I was drawn to Yoga, Buddhism, naturopathy and herbalism early on. Seeking foods, plants, practices and philosophies as remedies for issues of body, mind and soul.

I observed, for some obstacles led to opportunities, while for others the opposite. Emotions and mental states were always very intriguing for me.

As yoga teachers our practice is vital to our wellbeing on many levels. But what happens when one, or more, of those levels isn’t transformed by our practice? What if, even after decades of study and practice, we feel lost and have no idea what’s going on? As a yoga therapist, with decades of yoga, mindfulness, meditation practice and continuing education, I hit that point. My emotions were wild, my energy levels unreliable, my mind unclear at best. Outbursts, frustration, fears, doubts, power struggles, relationship issues, feelings of loneliness. Like a blade of grass breaking through concrete, no matter how solid our practice, inevitably emotions begin to break through unseen cracks. If we don’t deal with our unconscious, it’ll deal with us. Breakdown got me facing my shadows. Our shadow work is vital to our Yoga journey. It’s the healing process of reclaiming all we repressed, rejected, neglected and abandoned long ago. Ultimately emotions showed me the limiting unconscious beliefs holding me back in fundamental ways. And so the journey to a fuller wholeness began. Beyond Peace to Breakthroughs Within the dis-ease lies the cure. Feelings and thoughts can’t be divorced. And how we think and feel influences our life and our practice. Yoga and other modalities help us access our relaxation response, calm and restore the nervous system and mind while integrating bodily systems. Bringing integrity, peace and a sense of bliss. But sometimes it’s not all about peace and bliss. Wholeness also includes aspects preferably denied. Getting stuck in seeking bliss isn’t a solution in itself. The wholeness guides us in our daily choices, but its not a state most of us can remain in, let alone lift others up from. Yes, we can show or clear the paths for others, or we walk together. And others show us the way, but without shadow work, it becomes ego world. We’ve got to do the heavy lifting for ourselves first, if we want to do any in the world. And right now we’re all being asked to do that. Switching gears and moving beyond bliss through breakdowns and into breakthrough, allows us to embody consciousness fully. ‘Mastering’ and masking the less glorious aspects of our nature is spiritual bypassing. To unconsciously avoid, deny or resist certain aspects of our selves, lives and the related necessary changes, out of fear, shame, guilt or some other difficult emotion, is ignoring our shadow. Pushed into the unconscious. Yet wherever we go, there it is. Seemingly irrelevant, we override these emotions for years. Or our ego, the ingenious dividing principle, whispers, “We’ve conquered it!” Now think about this; just as strong as your resistance is to that change, that much energy and possibility lies beyond the breakthrough. Sure it asks us to our explore our anger, fears, shame, and our responsibility. To dig deeper and find that motivational force which we all have within, to change our present situation. Which is exactly what emotions are. They’re calls to action. To step up, raise the bar. Our present world situation is asking us to take action in integral, sustainable, collective and proactive ways. We need collaboration to find solutions together. What better time than now. Stepping up to find our strength and empower ourselves, each other and our environment proactively, means a pretty impressive impulse. A push. Emotions are energy in motion. Some very convincing; anger, fear, exhilaration, guilt, have lots of potential behind them. That’s why we struggle, we’re forced to find sustainable solutions.

The Power of Emotions

Apart from ‘positive ones’, emotions aren’t often talked about, freely to expressed or embodied. Yoga, equally powerful, brings about healing and associated ‘positive’ emotions. Popular positive think culture sees happiness as the ultimate goal. Spilling into our Yoga process, we miss the deep transformative potential of breakdowns beyond breakthroughs. Being emotionally illiterate can inadvertently causes feelings of being inherently flawed and broken. Outcast. Can we co-create a world of harmony, honesty and integrity, when certain aspects are left in the dark? Off course not. Beyond feel good are untold overlooked opportunities of growth. Only when we move through our pain, fears, and other ‘negative’ emotions, can the phoenix rise. And fully step into who we came here to truly be. Turning wounds into wisdom, instead of vice versa. And emotions are vital. Guideposts to finding out what any situation calls for from us as individuals part of a social group. Being awake and on a spiritual path means we see everything we can, with clarity. And from that clarity take steps to move ourselves, and our collective family, forward. To do that we need to honestly face our shadows first. We can only handle the shadows of the world, a reflection of our collective shadows, once we manage to hold our own. Reframing Emotions as Life Energy in Motion Emotions, powerful messengers between soul, body and mind, are transient. They have no substance. If we can just contain them long enough to hear their call to action, we can move mountains. They’re that powerful! Why waste their potential for change? There’s inherent intelligence behind each emotion. Energy is Shakti’s deepest desire is to live, thrive, give, fulfil and become. Her moving through us as emotion. It’s a conversation. A message between our inner guidance conversing with the inner guidance of another, both filtered through ego. And the way we experience and express emotions, and their underlying needs, depends on our many filters of past experiences. Memories and perceptions, influenced by family, culture and anything with which we identify. We have thousands of emotions. A vast universe. Imagine allowing yourself the freedom to experience a limitless space of emotions. Instead of pinning it down to a limited few, hear the actual conversation between your soul and the present situation. Use this precious time to see yourself living in the immense possibilities of all visceral sensations. A movement from our beautifully wise, nurturing bodies, nervous system, mind, and limitless self. This time is an opportunity for exactly that. Emotional Literacy, Reframe & Transform Your Emotions into Actions Our mind and body are incredibly malleable. We can rewire our feeling of anxiety into an invitation into newness. Just 5 minutes daily of reframing emotions using feeling your sensations, feelings and holding them with mindful self compassion in meditation, can be powerful when practiced consistently over months. Then we can take these emotions onto the mat, move with them, then take them into the world, as bold statements. With reframing and consistent practice, we begin to experience nervousness in a universe of emotions, instead as a fluttering exhilaration for a fresh, young anticipation to explore. Adventurousness. Nervousness re-examined gives us extra energy and alertness to raise our ability, intelligence and consciousness in a more engaged, creative and curious ways. Feeling anger doesn’t ‘make us angry’. Anger is a powerful, dynamic and concentrated energy. It can be explosive. Explore it’s quality and ability before it’s on the scene in that state. Through consistent mindfulness practice we learn to feel anger in our spacious awareness moving through our body-mind. We befriend our emotions. Slowly learning to channel it into action steps for radical change instead. A new project, plan or activity, or conversation, creating change in relation to what triggered our anger in the first place. And so we explore the universe of emotions, learn their vast language and movement. Emotional literacy. It’s yours and unique. You’re a master of your emotional vocab, no one else. No more shadows, no more projecting your beauty, power and fears onto others. It’s all You. By giving back the full scope of emotional experience through a more nuanced language, we reclaim the potential energy within emotions. Allowing ourselves unlimited expression to experience our feelings, allows energy to move through us, rather than to us. We’re called to action and the universe is waiting for our soul response. Begin to have a deeper conversation with your feelings. Step into your power, feel and see the subconscious speak through subtle pathways as Shakti’s wisdom and Prana moving through you. Let your universe of emotions expand and your shadows dissipate. Let’s have some truly deep, transfromative and real conversations. Leave a comment below and reclaim your voice, wellbeing through self expression. With Love,

Shira.

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE- CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION & EXPRESSION

MIND SPACE, EXPRESSIVE POWER

Don’t you love it when You get that feeling you’re able to do anything? Not the megalomaniac kind. Just knowing our pure potential and ability to create anything we desire at any given moment. 

Well this is delightful, exhilerating and creative feeling the realm of Space. 

Of the five elements, Space is subtlest and closest to the Unmanifest. Before we move into consciousness, understanding the subtle power of space makes our mind space more accessible.

We’ve gone from solid to subtle in the last 4 months. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space. The five elements make up our world. They’re the substance of soul, mind and body. Different ways Self expresses its infinite possible diversity of existence. 

A balanced space element is when we express ourselves freely and with ease. We’re great listeners and know the art of telling stories. That exhilarating feeling of communicating with clarity and conviction. Our ability to speak our feelings, thoughts, ideas and vision.

Space in our physical body is within ears, tongue, all channels, and the cavities of throat, chest and pelvis.

Space, the element of pure potential and creativity

Sound is subtle and Powerful. Words are powerful. And like space, sound is the subtlest of manifestation. We can’t smell it, Earth, we can’t taste it, Water, or see it, Fire, nor feel it, Air. But we can hear it and feel its vibrations through space and in our body’s channels and cavities.  

And just as the Space element is the most subtle, the organs of space receive and express the subtlest of manifestation best. Think music, song and Mantra, poetry, story and any other medium that conveys our deeper hopes, fears and emotions. Feeling that vibration when something speaks to the very core of our soul. It resonates. It realigns us with our true essence. 

That recognition is space at its finest. Our inspiration and spark for creation comes from the space of possibilities. It’s the bridge between in and out, heart and mind. And because Space is the element of communication, expression, and creativity, we refine it through our throat.

The connecting link between experience and expression of thoughts as well as feelings.

Purpose & Power of Space

Space is the seat of inspiration[i]. Because it’s also the meeting point of subtle and material, it brings balance and purification through interaction and integration of spiritual with physical. 

When our headspace is clear it’s easy to express our visions, dreams, insights, feelings, thoughts, and desires. Articulating these we begin the process of making it real. Through communicating we get feedback from others. This feedback allows us to define, redefine and remix what our real vision and gifts are. We purify our feelings, thoughts and deepest desire, through this constant exchange. We get clarity. And clarity is power. So, the space element is an empowering element to manifesting. 

Our original Shakti; deepest desire and power, can begin to work its magic when Space is clear. Every action, word, thought, and desire of safety, pleasure, and power are initiated by this creative force. An initial wish expressed to come into life as a unique being. It’s ready and waiting for this communication, creation and expression of Self through You.

Space Out of Balance

Ever had the feeling no one listens to you? Or you’re too embarrassed to speak your idea, opinion, or truth, even though you completely disagree with what’s being said? Well this is a deficient space element.

Have you been told you’re a terrible listener, or that you talk too much and never let another speak? Excessive Space.

Between experience, expectation, expression and the resulting exchange, we relate to others a clue about how and if we’re listening, and how, or if, we are being heard. To transform and be empowered, our voice, ears and throat give us very clear feedback. Our voice leads to our creations. In this process, we purify our experience, expression and communication of self. We learn by listening to the actual exchange. 

We also refine our other four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, through our ability to communicate.

Tools to bring back balance to Space

Mantra

Even in the Big Bang theory, sound is the first of any manifestation. The Vedic equivalent of creation theory is the sound AUM, Om. The first sound when we open our mouths, A, it signifies beginning creation. U, which is the continuation of creation. M, the sound that naturally arises when the lips are closed. Teaching starts with Om to honour the creation process. In Greek philosophy Logos, or Word, is the divine principle that permeates the universe. “In the beginning, there was the word. And the word was with God. And the Word was God,” “When there were no depths, I was brought forth,” Genesis, all resound the concept of space, sound, creation and manifestation.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative yoga rebalances our space element because it allows us the time needed to open up gently, and through calm attentive breathing in the opened areas create space without force or coercion.  For example, lying in supine Cobbler pose over a bolster, supported by blocks and blankets, gives our belly, heart, chest and hips the chance to open. Creating space releases tension, energy, and any issues in our tissues.  It allows us to reconnect to areas that are usually closed and unconscious.

The space element provides the denser elements freedom, a gap in time to transform and become, a window in space opening doorways to opportunities. That’s why

Meditation

Imagine there is absolutely Nothing, only unbounded space and stillness. Within there lies a dormant, rich, fullness of all the pure potential of creation. When these infinite potentialities begin to stir, and move, the Air element is breathed into existence. As Air awakens and begins to shift, rouse and initiate with more velocity, it creates heat. The Fire element is inspired into being. Fire’s light and heat separates from the heavy qualities of cold and wet. Giving way to Water. Within the Water, are particles even denser. Compact, solid and unmoving. Here the Earth element is delivered.


[i] David Frawley – Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses

YOGA FOR A CONNECTED HEART

YOGA FOR A CONNECTED HEART

Yoga for A Connected Heart

Have you ever felt that deep direction from universal forces and at the same time complete free will? Well that’s when your air element is home. It’s place in our body is obviously the lungs and heart. The hands and arms are extensions and express the power air through our bodies. Through them we move forward, change activities, create, express, share and receive.

The power of air, of give and take and exchange, searches for, creates and finds new openings, ways, beginnings and connections. It seeks freedom and deeper relations through movement, change and redirecting our wiring, pathways and channels. It’s very versatile and agile, just like our emotions. 

Feeling Free & Connected

Air that’s balanced allows us to feel carefree, peaceful and connected to something wholesome whilst we move, exchange and interact with others. It instils deep trust by seeing all things as being interconnected. And enthuses us with curiosity to try out new things, places, activities and meet new people. 

Through this movement and exchange of experiences new pathways are discovered and we’re inspired. We create new projects, concepts and arts from these fresh impressions and connections. We feel in flow in the grand scheme of things. Connected and free simultaneously.

Excess/ deficient -pain point & causes

Too much of the air element makes us feel spaced out, wired, spread too thin and overwhelmed. When anxiety, doubt, uncertainty and panic are symptoms. 

Our boundaries are most probably weak. Either we let in too much, or give away too much, depleting our sense of self, which we developed through our fire element. Discerning who we are and what we value becomes a vague notion when we are too busy giving, creating and over producing. 

Too little of the air manifests as lack of inspiration, motivation, creativity and energy, rigidity, denial and expert syndrome. Closed to others’ ideas, ideals, concepts and projects. We can become depressed and lack interest in new aspects of self, life and others. 

Without exchange and an influx of fresh ideas we won’t discover new insights and experiences, learn new aspects of ourselves and therefore life becomes boring and meaningless. This can become a cycle of stagnation. 

Yoga for a Courageous Heart

A balanced air element needs movement. We need to follow the cycles of ebb and flow, give and take. Full, empty and everything in between.  Life is the desire to live. And living includes growth, change and death for the new to arise.

Create balance between flexibility and strength, from physical to psychological, try new things and experiment. Confront activities, attitudes, thoughts and beliefs you hold dear, and see you’re openness, or lack of, through new experiences and expressions. Build up strength on those new found activities, attitudes and beliefs and then dare to expand a little more from that new expression of self.

  1. Embody a Courageous Heart

Working with the lungs, heart, arms and hands will activate the air element. When air is excessive, anxiety, doubt or restlessness is present, we need to strengthen the muscles and organs of this area, both back and front of heart, ribs, lungs and shoulders. Think side plank, plank, push-ups against the wall, east side stretch, and arms extended behind the back while holding a block between the hands.

If air is deficient we need to open the heart area. Yoga that extends arms up, out, back and over the head frees the heart. Spread your fingers, open and expand the chest and heart.

  • Energetic Attitude of Fresh Air

Breathe fully, taking in the full spectrum of life and releasing and expressing ourselves as fuller expression of self. In case of excess, breathe into belly area, breathe out slower with a ratio in 6: out 10. In cases of deficiency, breathe more fully into the chest, breathe out slowly and strong, with a ratio of in 8: out 6.

  • Mental Stance of Steady Openness

When excess air evokes anxiety, stop checking your phone, internet and what others are doing and focus on You. Stay in your lane and take time to rest, take a warm bath, light a candle journal get to know yourself again. It takes time to settle a mind that is vast and used to moving all the time, grant yourself all the time needed, whether hours or weeks. 

When deficient in air allow yourself to see and experience through new eyes and another’s mind. Don’t get stuck in your ways, the expert syndrome, try something new daily. Make notes of your resistance to other opinions, ideas and practices, and then dare to try them for yourself.

  • Freedom to Express & Listen

Socially air gives a sense of freedom to express, create, receive and share our very deepest self. 

Excessive air in our beliefs manifests as doubt, uncertainty and being wishy-washy. Nothing holds and nowhere to connect. Journal on your core values, see if some are influenced by outside; your loved ones, society, peers, old levels of consciousness.

Deficient air in our psyche looks like rigidity in our beliefs system. We ‘know’ everything already, often too afraid to look or listen to another’s perspective or expression of self. Denial is huge here. Journaling on what ideas or conversation we find confronting and our degree of aversion, shed light on what concepts are being questioned, and why we fear opening up to new concepts on this topic.

Ultimately Yoga is about having deep, honest and fulfilling relationships with self and others. To give and take. To create and share from the exchange. To be respons-able; able to respond openly, freely, unapologetically. 

When we live, breathe and relate fully we come from that courageous heart. One that dares to express and experience herself fully, without fear, shame, blame, guilt or judgement. We except ourselves and our shortcomings, we see these as growth opportunities, rather than threat. We know we’re perfectly imperfect just as we are. We have self love, self-appreciation and self- approval and therefore we can love, appreciate and approve of others. There is no fight, hostility or fear in a courageous heart.

PURPOSE & UNDERSTANDING OUR PATTERNS THROUGH OUR BLISS BODY

PURPOSE & UNDERSTANDING OUR PATTERNS THROUGH OUR BLISS BODY

Our life purpose becomes clear when we see our life’s patterns through the Bliss Body.

We’ve journeyed from Body Beauty, through the physiological- Energy Body, mental- Mind Body and psychological- Wisdom Body, and we culminate at out deepest body, our deepest desire to live and potential to give. 

In Yoga we call it the Bliss Body, Anandamaya Kosha. It’s the essence of why we exist and what we came here to do.

Whats the Bliss Body and Why it Matters?

Our Bliss Body, the very drive of our life, is our casual body. It’s the desire to come into life as an individual being. To experience, express and share our knowledge, power and life force with others. To nourish, enjoy, bring change, feel, and bring into the world our unique gift and vision, in a way only we can.

Our uniqueness is our gift and the purpose off our life is to uncover it fully and share it. 

Our strengths, quirkiness, weaknesses, fears and potential power to become a greater version of ourselves all lie and live in this Bliss Body.

It’s the underlying drive off all our actions, our desires, needs and perception of life and relationships. And most of us ignore our Bliss Body, until…

We hit rock bottom. We enter ‘mid-life-crisis’. The dark night of the soul is our day and night existential reality. When all we do, or don’t do, doesn’t seem to effect our dance with the devil. When deep, painful psychological, physical or emotional turbulence disturbs our existence enough to realise there’s more than meats the eye.

After a Breakdown Comes a Breakthrough 

If we honour our path and purpose, we don’t hit walls, bottoms or end up dancing with our dark side. But most of us aren’t that lucky.

Most of us need the earth to shake or be pulled from underneath us before westart asking deeper questions. 

Planet Saturn, known as the Great Teacher, presents us with immense and intense life questions. Saturn returns to the same solar placement every 29.5 years. Some of us begin with existential questions around this time; 27-32years of age. Some wait till the next, age 54-64, or the one after that.

This unconscious force is our Soul’s deepest desire moving us toward our purpose. Instead of continuing the same old comfortable, but often meaningless path, which seems futile, shallow or at best repetitive, our Soul asks us to dive in. It knows our potential and asks us to uncover it.

Because this is such a difficult transition time, we ask why. Why did this happen? Why me, why now? What could I have done different? Why are we here? Why am I here? For what purpose do I do all these things?

Because we won’t find our potential power without a quest. We need to digdeep, soul search, fight the demons of our psyche, rescue our victim self and uncover the jewels within. 

This is sure to shake our fundamental beliefs about self, life and our dearest relationships.

The Jewel of Bliss Underneath the Ruins of Uncertainty

In the throes of this seeming unbearable pain, we can’t see an end in sight. When through to the other side, we can look back, take distance and see the patterns. We see a pathway starting to emerge. We uncover a strength, beauty and wisdom that only occurs through personal experience of suffering and leads to deep compassion and empathy.

Someone once asked me if it’s possible to know another’s suffering, withoutgoing through the experience. I believe we can only understand what we’vefelt, known and been through fully ourselves. 

Without the experience, we can’t empathise nor empower another.

We don’t have the past lived experience to know what it feels like, what depths of suffering, doubt, shame, pain, grief, fear and loneliness we cansuccumb to, or endure. Nor can we grasp the patience, acceptance, love and empathy needed to be there for ourselves as we struggle to get out. 

And yet we will come out.

And underneath that, that deep experiential knowing, lies our radiant jewel of Bliss. The wisdom, beauty and empathy of our deep desire to share, show and guide others through their similar struggle. 

This in and of itself shows us our strength and ability and gift.

We know nothing can break us. We are stronger than a diamond, more beautiful than the highest mountain, deeper than the blackest hole and clearer that a silent lake.

There is certainty in that. And from this certainty we can hold others pain, fear, grief, shame and suffering.

Uncovering your Bliss Body

A student in class, when talking about the 5 bodies said she was baffled by hercasual body, our bliss body. She wanted to know the raison d’etre. I think more and more young people ask this question with all the uncertainty we face with our wonderful world in so much turmoil.

One of the most effective ways to find out why you’re here is journaling on your story. Your past and present struggles and get to the core feelings.

It doesn’t need to be a very long story, you don’t need to get into details. Rather be objective and see the pathway you walk/ed and what have you understood, learned and know so well that no one can tell you otherwise.

It is as simple as asking three questions and find the undercurrent, recurrent pattern.

Write down My Story, and answer

What was it like? 

What happened?

What’s it like now?

From this short and succinct summery of your story you’ll see what it is You know better than most people in your life. And reframe it as an empowering experience. One in which you’re the main character, get to choose the role, the trajectory and destination. You’ll begin your journey back to your Bliss Body. You’ll hear what your Soul is trying to move you toward all along. Know there’s others who would love your guidance, support or understanding and empathy.

Know you’re not alone.

Know you are amazing.

Know you have the power to choose, change and cancel anything from this point onwards.

If you choose to.

Much Love,

Shira

FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS RESPONDING INSTEAD OF REACTING

FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS RESPONDING INSTEAD OF REACTING

Feeling like we’re going with the flow in our relationships is possible when we identify with people, projects and places that uplift and inspire us. A feeling of visceral flow shows us we’re with the right people for where we’re at now.  Responding instead of reacting can feel like such an achievement, like success. And it’s the most fulfilling and rewarding way to relate to others. But how often does it happen when in confrontational settings?

Have you ever made a choice you regretted, yet next time round you again made that same stupid choice?

Do you ever feel like your going round in circles when it comes to certain relationships or situations?

Have you ever wondered why you deny, fear, avoid or run from particular people, places or parts of yourself?

All of us have moments when we feel out of control. We react instead of respond. And the actions we take from these emotionally charged moments cause regret, resentment, grief and can make us feel like we’re going crazy.
 

Vijananamaya Kosha & Inner Drives

Kosha means sheath and Vijnanamaya means wisdom. Wisdom is something universal, known to all; consciously or unconsciously. This knowing is strengthened by repeated personal experiences in the presence of  our first teachers; carers and parents. An experience of wisdom as infants learned through relation, connection and bonds of trust.

There is also learned wisdom, which is part of this sheath. Therefore anything we learn and experience, repeatedly, when together with loved ones, intensely shapes what we believe to be a truth; our wisdom. A deep conviction is rooted in personal experience shared with those we identify with, associate with or trust.

These emotional reactions are patterns we were unconsciously trained in at a very early age. Habits we used to adapt to the circumstances we were born or brought up in. We’re also at our most impressionable from conception till the first 3 years. This is when anything that’s repeated over and over, and we cannot explore, express or communicate about consciously, becomes a certainty. And therefore forms our beliefs about ourselves, our loved ones, our environment, world and our lives and experiences in love.

These latent impressions become our drives. Drives are directed by our subscribed to beliefs, conscious or not. Our beliefs are shaped by those we are influenced by; those closest to us. These impressions in Sanskrit called Samskaras and in psychology inner drives.

Working with Vijnanamaya, Yoga Psychology

Yoga psychology is all about relationship. To self and other. Understanding and working with Vijnanamaya is the psychology of Yoga and Ayurveda.

Vijnanamaya kosha is the body of wisdom and perception. Experience and belief. It’s the part of us that’s intuitive, receptive, reactive, respond-able and responsible. Without integrating this understanding of living and experience, a yoga practice can help or hinder, empower or inhibit, even make or break our health and wellbeing.  

In Yoga therapy a huge part of creating a practice is understanding the wisdom sheath. Our inner drives, the root cause of many imbalances. Understanding our inner drives and deepest fears gives us a big clue to how we can undo the knots of past impressions. Because we want to move into fulfilling, rewarding and delicious relationships. No one wants to go around in circles accusing, arguing, coping, walking away, blaming, shaming etc.

We all need, desire and deserve healthy, deliberate, conscious and compassionate relationships and connection to self and others.

Understanding our Inner Drives 

Understanding how our wisdom body influences our perception, emotions, choices, reactions, and eventual actions, allows us to make new choices. To flow more naturally through our relationships, and experience our interconnectedness.

It allows us to be more accepting of self and others. It’s the first doorway self love, self compassion and self care. Because we can love ourselves as imperfectly perfect, we open the windows for others to also be perfectly imperfect too. This spaciousness makes way for a sense of responsibility to do our part and also to set up boundaries, that allow others to do their part in the play of life. Problems and differences are no longer personal.[1] Just two people seeing and experiencing in their unique ways.

We can accept conflict and confront people. We separate issues from people.[2]
When we honour our sense of self, our identity and integrity, we respond to situations instead of reacting.

Identity, a Template 

The bottom line of why we react instead of respond is our sense of identity. Identity drives actions. As new-born’s we identify wholeheartedly with our caregiver. Whatever the repeated reaction, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically, sets the example for us to do the same.

We only differentiate as far as we feel safe enough to still be accepted as part of the family /tribe. These early adaptive patterns ensure survival. But if we never psychologically or emotionally leave home and find our own identity, they become our basic default drives throughout our lives.

Our beliefs are based on the repeated behaviour of the family/tribe/group/culture/society with which we identify. The behaviours, like latent impressions, create templates of beliefs of how we should act and react. These beliefs become filters for what comes in and out of our wisdom body. The filters, Samskaras, informs our perceptions. Our perceptions in turn influence our experiences, emotions and reactions.

In this way, identity drives our choices and actions, again and again. We’ve lost the ability to respond or see clearly without filters and distortions of past experiences. And seeing we’re a social species, one of the most powerful influences are our family, friends, teachers, and mentors. Whatever we immerse ourselves in, we’re influenced by. The degree of influence depends on time;  how much we spend with them, how much we’ve invested into that belief and way of life. Not whether we like what they feel, think, say or do. Identity drives action.

Changing Tides, Responding Instead of Reacting

We can use this to our advantage too. When we identify with inspirational people, we flow like a stream toward that way of living and looking at the world. Because their life, actions, words and thoughts embody and exemplify what we aspire toward. We’re guided by their beliefs, perception and choices.

We identify with whomever we hang out with. And the five people most in your daily life influence you most. So just hang out with people you want to be like. If you can’t hang out with them, read books, articles, watch interviews, documentaries of how inspirational people live, laugh, share, care, create and integrate their wisdom into everyday living.

Our perception, beliefs and intelligence; becomes our wisdom. This template of latent impressions all inform our choices, reactions and inner drives

Guided by the healthy people we surround ourselves with, choosing which books we read, films we watch, activities we take part in or the music we’re immersed in a self we want to be with. This is exactly how we influence our psyche and set ourselves up for success when it comes to relating and connecting. 

Our wisdom body is the psyche that knows our interconnection. We see ourselves in the heroines and heroes of stories. Identify with archetypes. That’s why it’s vital who our leaders are. We see unconscious and subconscious patterns playing out in each one of us.

Bringing these patterns to light of consciousness through meditation, mindfulness, concentration and journaling. Reflectinng on inspiring stories and uplifting films is exactly how we empower our wisdom body. Once the patterns are conscious we see and understand what’s going on underneath our inner drives. We dive underneath the play of details into the immense incredible fabric of consciousness, and connect to our identity with bigger self, universe, cosmic, higher, divine, whatever You want to call it.

We can identify with the heroine and hero, the Goddesses and Gods, because even they make mistake and have their fair share of flaws. 

Issues, imperfections and mistakes are the bounty of playful living, they make us laugh, let us relax and see the silliness of our seriousness. They give us room to BE.

Love to the fuller, bigger and wiser You, the self that dares to step onto the Heroines’ journey.
Love the You you are now, perfectly imperfect, finding your beauty and power as you go.

Much Love,

Shira. 

[1] Melody Beattie – Beyond Codependency
[2] Ibid.

OUR MIND BODY & MENTAL CLARITY

OUR MIND BODY & MENTAL CLARITY

We can easily create mental clarity and focus when we understand our mind body, Manomaya Kosha. With mental clarity and focus, confidence, curiosity and creativity flow naturally. Our mind when working at its fullest potential, is reflective, clear and deep. And like the mountain lake, when our Mind Body has clarity, we’re calm, collected and centred, even during the full catastrophe life. 

This state of mind is known as Buddhi in Sanskrit. It’s where the word Buddha comes from. Someone who sees clearly, without distortions or waves of confusion.

Do you ever wish your mind was someone/thing you loved to live with? Does it sometimes remind you of a spoilt brat or tyrant?

It’s only since about 4 years I love my mind and see it as a friend rather than foe.

Our reflective and calm mind can be cultivated with the practices of breathing, meditation, mindfulness, detachment, intention, affirmation and visualisation.

From Physical to Subtle, Through the Elements

In the article Yoga Therapy, we looked at our five different bodies; food, energy, thought, intelligence and causal. This month we’ve travelled from the tangible physical body to a subtler experience of living. We dove into our energy body in our last article Pranamaya Kosha. In this article we’ll shine some light on our mental body, Manomaya Kosha.

For philosophy lovers wanting to puzzle the pieces and get a glimpse of the big picture, our five bodies are related to the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and space. 

Our physical body is mainly made up of earth, heavy, inert, solid; ‘soil-idd’. Our energy body when healthy, flows like water, stagnate when we move too little, or dissipates when we spread our energy too thin into too many channels. 

Because mind is connected to the element of fire, our mind is often overheated. Fire gives us heat, light and energy to move. Without the sun or a flame, we’d bump into things and never grasp their full beauty or purpose. Fire allows us to see, discern, differentiate, organise and design.

But we can also take this wonderful tool and channel for granted. Seeing we live in a time where vision is our main way of relating in the world, media, marketing, design, it’s not so strange that our mind is overwhelmed, overstimulated, yet undernourished.

So, what can we do, living in this world of constant visual input? 

Let’s first see the power of our mind, then understand how we can channel this amazing tool.

The Power & Purpose of our Mind

Our mind is what sets us apart from all other creatures. Evolving over millions of years to accommodate creating the most wonderful, wild and wicked creations. It has the power to discern, discriminate, pull apart, put together, reconstruct and fabricate. It has the will to direct, empower and eventually bring into manifestation, anything.

Our mind body is made up of thoughts, imagination, memories, logic and conscious and sub-conscious impressions. The mind is agile, quick, nimble, adaptable. It loves to show off it’s dexterity. It takes the form of whatever is in front of it. Its nature is to mimic, connect and find new ways to bring different concepts, knowledge and impressions together. 

This is the beauty of the mind. 

It’s downfall when we take in too much information, versus education, which is a slower process.

Our mind is like an empty vessel. Because it’s endlessly empty it fills itself with whatever is in front it. In a world full of ideas, fantasies, impressions, opinions, claims. These become memories. And seeing our mind is always trying to and make sense and find purpose of events in relation to our own impressions and cognitive processes, there’s an endless possibility of variables thoughts we can conjure up. 

This busy-body is a master at moving, change and doing. That’s its nature. Since in utero, we’re all ‘trained’, to grasp and hold onto any concept, idea, pattern, impression, logical process, to ensure survival and acceptance into our family/tribe. This prerequisite has made us so busy being busy, we’re often more human doings than human beings. 

Therefore a little less doing and a bit more being is the core path to create mental clarity and focus. To create that calm, confidence and curiosity, and cultivate that reflective mind, simplicity is key. 

Being visually surrounded by scenes, images and impressions of clarity are directly reflected back by Manomaya.

Create Clarity & Focus With Ease

First of all to create mental calm we need ease. So let’s keep it simple. No complicated formulas or projecting we need some external authority to access our inherent intelligence. We’re all able.

The mental field is subtle and therefore seems difficult to understand. But we can re-ignite our mental amazingness if we understand these four things; 

  1. Impressions from the senses strongly affect our mind. Mostly through images and words; media, films, books, songs, magazines. The intensity of affect depends on the level of affection/identification, we have with the source of these impressions. 
  2. When the mind digests all experiences without misunderstandings, it remains clear. That’s why clear communication skills and boundaries is not only valuable, but a necessity, for mental clarity and focus.
  3. The movement of our body’s energy directly affects the movement of our mind. Mental movement is a major influence over our state of mind. That’s why regulating our breathing with specific exercises is vital to mental wellbeing. 
  4. Because the mind often thinks in words, what we think, we will see, believe and create. Words effect us deeper than action. It stays in our memory.

PRACTICES FOR create mental clarity and focus MANOMAYA

These four tools can help us cultivate the mind we love to live with. Rather than dominating all our actions, words and thoughts.

Breathing Same In as Out- Samavritti

Breathing inadvertently affects our mind through our energy body. Physiology affects psychology. So breathing in a pattern of equal, smooth and same ratio of in as out, calms the mind. One by focusing our attention, and two, by steadying the waves of our breath body, we calm the waves of thoughts.

So a ratio of 1:1 breathing is all we need. Meaning we breathe in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds. You can increase this up to 10-15 seconds. But remember, as long as your breathing is smooth, calm and feels good to your nervous system, it calms the nerves, the senses and therefore your mind. 

Concentration

Through the practice of concentration the mind is trained to stay still. In the beginning you might have delusions that your mind stays still for minutes at a time, but when you sit day in day out for years, you’ll meet the incredibly cleverness of this mental acrobat.

Slowly it does calm. By not doing, the mind empties once again. As much as you’ve put in,that long it’ll take to empty…! 

Do Nothing

Lie down in the sun, or on your sofa, daydream, absorb the moment, listening to the birds, just like a cat. We love watching the grace, ease and beauty of cats. But if you meditate on their behaviour, their just very graceful at being lazy. They do it with such unapologetic poise, that we think they’re sleek, sublime and superior. 

And they are. 

At the art of Being, rather than doing.

Cardiovascular activity

Get out of your head and into your body.

Being in your body, feeling your legs and heart as your run, or your whole body ability and freedom of expression as you dance, will clear the mind in no time. When you’re here and now, you’re embodied. Embodiment is the best place for a mind to live and thrive. Embodiment is human being rather than human doing.

With these simple steps you can create the mental clarity and focus of a psychological ninja.

Whilst in the midst of the full catastrphe of Life 😉

Be. Not busy, just being.

Be all the things we were never trained for.

Be yourself, unapologetically. Allow yourself to empty. Live fully.

Namaste,

Shira.

INFLUENCING OUR EMOTIONS & ENERGY THROUGH PRANAMAYA KOSHA

INFLUENCING OUR EMOTIONS & ENERGY THROUGH PRANAMAYA KOSHA

Influencing our energy and emotions is vital in stressful moments. Through Pranamaya Kosha, our energy body, we can learn how to regulate how we feel, respond and bounce back, with grace and ease. 

I just moved house this weekend, and listening to, and taking care of my energy body’s needs, is vital to resilience, wellbeing and energy levels.

So this morning when my alarm went of at 6 AM, exhausted from moving house and all that goes with it, instead of getting up, I listened to my body. She cried loud and clear, “STAY IN BED. Only get up when the heaviness of body and grogginess of mind had dissipated”. 

Therefore I had to miss some of my yoga practice, and not do the dynamic practice I was yearning. But instead meet my body where it is right now.

It’s vital to be as honest and attuned, because body awareness, just tuning into your bodily sensations again and again, helps us sense what our body really feels, needs and lacks. 

We’ve spent years ignoring or overriding our body’s needs and desires. 

It’s the norm. The other day, I unknowingly broke my toe and I admonished myself with, “ Don’t exaggerate, it’s probably not that bad.” When I got home and dared to look, it was huge, red, blue and purple.

Under all our hectic-ness our vibrant calm, dynamic stillness, radiance pulsate. When Pranamaya is healthy, we’re confident, curious and creative. We can create wellbeing by knowing how our vital body feels, what it needs and which practices will most benefit it now.

So what’s Pranamaya Kosha, how do we regulate our energy and emotions, through it, and why is it called Pranamaya Kosha?

Prana is Life Energy, Pranamaya, our body of vitality

Prana is Sanskrit for life, energy, breath and soul. Maya means made of, and Kosha, explored more in-depth in the last article, is one of our diverse sheaths of living. So Pranamaya Kosha is our body of energy, life, breath and soul.

The Chinese call it Chi, Ki in Japanese, Mana in Polynesia, Baraka in Islam, the Trinity in Christian, and Rauch Adonai in Hebrew. 

The embodiment of fullness, power and source of all creation. It’s the creative expression the Divine through us. The movement of Life itself. 

The active power takes form while remaining complete. Streaming through and connecting all channels of life through our breath and movement. The elements of space and air changing and re-connecting. 

Our vitality is in our breath

This breath of life, is symbolised as wind, breath, mind and spirit, because it conceals, is transient, fleeting, yet a powerful force of change and transformation.

The first thing we all do when we come into the world is take a breath. Without it, we don’t live. And our last act release of our last breath of vitality.

In our vital body, life and energy streams, cascades and fills up our vessel. Life moving and flowing through us. Our breath is universal life force replenishing us when we rest or move fully. And the nostrils are the entry point for our energy.

So just by breathing fully, deeply and consciously we wake up that Pranic body, our vitality.

Adults have a lung capacity of four litres, but usually we only take in 300ml of breath per cycle. We can completely empty of lungs and clean out all that stale air. Rid ourselves of anything old, unwanted and outgrown. But usually we don’t give it much mind, energy or life.

And just as bodies of water stagnate, or dry up, our channels of energy, neglected or overused, causes our energy, emotions and vitality to do the same.

Emotion is energy in motion. For more on this read Emotional Empowerment.

We can regulate our energy & emotions easily

Mudras, mantras, chakras and Pranayama all affect our energy body directly.

Mudras, gestures which redirect energy flow from our hands into another circuit, a proactive statement we choose to embody. Mantras engage the mind, and redirect energy circuits of thinking and focus into new channels and patterns of thoughts that counter our present mental habits. Pranayama, the most direct way to influence energy flow, can uplift, ground, expand, concentrate, heat, cool, enliven, or even, dampen ourselves if we choose.

With all of these, finding the right practice according to our needs is top priority, and usually the hardest part of any practice. Body awareness and honesty are so vital to our energy and emotions. Because when we know what we feel, and where we want to get to, we can choose the right practice.

Clarity is power.[1] The more clear you are about what you want and need the more likely you’ll achieve it. So Yoga forms practiced with intention, conscious breath and embodiment of the form, also are pathways to transform our emotions and energy flow.

So, first and foremost, is to find out what our body feels like. What quality does it have? Is it heavy, light, open, expanded, wired, dissipated, gathered, flowing, stagnant, or does it have different qualities at the same time? 

And where do you want to take yourself, in the next hour, day, week, month?

From this clarity you can use the tools and teachings of Yoga to take you to the next level.

Then we can choose the right practices for it.

So meeting my body, feelings and mind state where I am is the indicator as to what practice I will do each time I get on the mat.

So lets get body aware. There’s intelligence in that beautiful body of ours, always speaking.

Our desire’s are our souls language to move us in the direction that will not only benefit us, but all who cross our path.

Let’s breath fully, and take a deep plunge into life energy. Let’s clear our Pranic circuits and create new ones that are life affirming, soul inspiring and daring greatly!

Love to our body’s wisdom, vitality and connection of our life energy,

Much Love,

Shira.


[1] Billy Cox