By Renee’ Fulkerson
“You are safe, you are loved and you are not alone”, is a mantra I have been practicing more frequently these days. For me it helps to have a gentle reminder of these positive and powerful words when I am in need of self soothing.
Fear: is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something, is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Loneliness: is a state of mind that can cause people to feel empty,alone and unwanted.
This is just one of many definitions of fear and loneliness I have come across and have felt personally myself. Not to mention there are so many different circumstances and situations in which fear can arise in our day to day lives. What intrigues me the most about the feelings or ideas around fear is not only the mental effects but also the physical effects on the human body.
Some of the physical characteristics I have observed and experienced myself have been:
- Tension in my muscles maybe in the form of drawing my shoulders to my ears
- Shortness of breath inhales and exhales become very rapid along with increased heart rate
- Stomach ache and or poor digestion due to pulling the belly in creating a collapse in the frontline
- Withdrawal and uninterest in activities or life in general leading to possible depression and anxiety
- Sleepless nights creating exhaustion exacerbating the fear into a fight or flight bodily response
The list could go on and on as there are so many short term and long term possible effects on the physical body during trying times of fear and uncertainty.
I myself have found great relief to the above mentioned issues in keeping with my regular routine in regard to my personal YogAlign practice. I use the term regular loosely as we all know some days are easier than others. And some days I complete two hours and other days maybe an hour. Either way the benefits outway the negative effects on a body being in the fight or flight mode for extended periods of time.
Loneliness on the other hand is more of a state of mind rather than an emotion. Meaning your state of mind is your mood or mental state at a particular time. Example: upon waking up in the morning you already feel off and then maybe the rest of the day does not seem to go so well. Mostly due to the fact you woke up on what some call the wrong side of the bed. And then there is the snowball effect. Your state of mind or mood starts out a bit unsettled and after creating several more stories in your head you are feeling empty, alone and unwanted.
The good news is we can change our mood and our thoughts – what a relief!
How can YogAlign support us physically and mentally through fearful and uncertain times?
By resetting the tension in our bodies while practicing certain postures, breathwork and self massage bringing our bodies and breath back into alignment. When we are aligned with the spine in the bodies natural curves, the body connects naturally as a continuum and we begin to feel relaxed, balanced, secure and peaceful. Creating the space to obtain and maintain a comfortable and natural state of being (safe, loved and not alone).
I would love to offer some of my very simple self soothing yoga techniques:
1. The YogAlign Full Body Stretch – lying on your back, arms stretched out over head (keeping shoulders down), fingers spread and palms facing in towards one another. Allow your spine to arch creating space in the small of your back, lengthen legs and point those toes away from you. Now create the letter O with your lips and simply inhale like you are sipping through a straw (feel the ribcage expand). At the top of the SIP breath tighten your entire body fist your hands and tighten your glutes. It is not so much your pulling yourself apart as pulling yourself inward tight, tight, tight. Now exhale (feel the ribcage contract) sighing with your tongue out (a.k.a lions breath) and completely let your body go limp. Resetting the tension in the body, creating length in the front and back lines of the body. (repeat 2 more times)
2. Spine rolling on a small ball (75% inflated) – lying down begin by placing the ball in the curve of your neck and slowly turning your head side to side sink into the ball. Work the ball down and around the shoulder blades and continue down the spine. Be sure to keep your knees bent (keeping pressure off the low back) as you move through the natural curves of the body. Lastly moving the ball into the arch of your back and sacrum. Be slow and gentle at first especially if you are a first timer or have suffered an injury. Continue wiggling and squiggly up and down the spine with full inhales and exhales. You can also raise the arms gently over head if that feels good. Either way let yourself fall heavy on the ball and completely let go. Please do not over do it 5 to 10 minutes total is perfect.
3. The 2 block chest opener and neck elongator – start by sitting up and then set one yoga block on its lowest side (sideways) ultimately to be placed between the bottom of the shoulder blades. For women right around where your bra hooks sit although everyone is a bit different and you will need to play around a bit till you find the most comfortable spot. Next place the second yoga block upright at its highest point ultimately supporting the back of your head. Once the yoga blocks are placed lean back and adjust accordingly to find that sweet spot. Again, knees are bent in order to take any pressure of your lower back and support your bodies natural curves. At this point breath and you can also slowly rock your head side to side. Make sure you are not tucking your chin to your chest and you can get full inhales and exhales. You should be feeling an openness, release and a feeling of relaxation in the entire body. Let’s create even more space in the neck and shoulders by dropping the yoga block supporting your head on its side. This may feel extremely awkward at first if your neck and shoulders are locked up (take your time). To come out easiest way is to roll onto one side or the other and remove blocks. Allow yourself a moment to lie flat on your back and feel the effects.
While moving through any or all of these offerings above make sure you are able to inhale and exhale effectively. If you cannot breath well you need to come out or adjust your posture. You may also want to silently or out loud repeat “I am safe, I am loved and I am not alone”. Combining powerful words, full inhales/exhales and postures that create spaciousness in the body is a beautiful blend. Allowing us to come back into balance, peace and love.
I hope you find something useful in my offerings and you and your beloveds stay happy and healthy.