Namaste PCS&M Tribe,
Welcome to our sacred space of love. I will admit to you, it has been difficult for me to express my thoughts with the overwhelm of unraveling events that have taken place. The images and commentary are shocking and difficult to hear and watch. These events really hit my heart...again.
Many of you don't know my background. I am a refugee from El Salvador. The US has been my home for 43 years now. You may or may not know, El Salvador is and was a country of turmoil and violence. It has survived a civil war of political turmoil at the expense of thousands who suffered and were forced to leave their homes and homeland, including myself, my family and motherland friends. Many could not return without risking their lives.
I have lived the refugee experience. I was 4 years old when my mother established herself in San Francisco and was finally able to fly my siblings, grandmother and I, to join her. Flying into this continent is much different than thousands of refugees that have had to cross over on foot. My mother left her children behind for a few years before we were reunited again. This only scrapes the surface because sadly, history is repeating itself, again.
Ukrainian refugees are now in that same situation. Just as Afghanistan refugees in a recent crisis. Just as Latin Americans
So to answer the question above? My heart hurts...It hurts to relive these horrific events through the eyes of the children I see. Their mothers forced to leave to survive and fathers, brothers, and grandfathers left behind to fight. For me, these are intense triggers due to past traumas that can also come up for many.
Deep breath here.
What does all this have to do with Yoga, you may ask? Our empathetic hearts cannot turn away from what is happening and the potential threat of the unknown. But stay present.
What is happening in our physical body and emotional body while overwhelm and anxiety set in? When those feelings stay trapped and uninvited, our nervous systems get very rattled. Our brains get foggy, we may feel emotional, unfocused, lethargic, and digestive issues may arise. We may even go into avoidance or close our hearts. These physical responses invite inflammation (which possibly may already exist) causing us to experience pain more intensely and in different areas of our body. This is where our energy needs to shift as well. Our emotional body may experience anxiety, overwhelm, and possibly depression. Our physical and emotional bodies become in dire need of self-care and self-love.
Here, I invite us to make space for yoga. When we come to a place where we may be experiencing any of the symptoms I described above, we are in a fight, flight, or freeze state (sympathetic). Yoga has the ability to stimulate, activate and engage our parasympathetic system into a relaxed state of "rest and digest". It's a kindness we show ourselves, to practice with compassion.
We can begin our compassionate practice by coming to our breath and increasing movement in our bodies, inviting the calm after a thundering storm. Some of us may need more movement than usual. That's our body telling us we need to move energy out to make more space. This is why we come together for Soul Saturday♥️.
Keep a close ear to what our bodies are telling us, whispering to us, or even yelling at us! Yoga is an opportunity to tune into ourselves. By taking care of ourselves, we are able to help others. I wouldn't be here today, if it wasn't for the embrace of others. This is how we can pay it forward, give back, help and raise our vibrations to raise others.
I share an example below of how we can bring in the state of calm when symptoms like overwhelm and anxiety make a grand appearance.
Square breathing is a technique used to reduce stress and is a wonderful breath accessible to us to get our nervous system back into a rest and digest state.
Breathwork can literally be done almost anywhere. I have even used this breathing technique while driving to calm myself down from an over stimulated nervous system.
Begin by sitting comfortably supported, feet grounding, if possible. You can do this sitting on the floor, spine supported, in a chair, or laying down.
Slowly let all the air out of your lungs.
Begin to slowly inhale to the count of 4. Feel the breath fill the abdomen.
Pause for a count of 4.
Slowly exhale to the count of 4. Feel the abdomen relax.
Pause for a count of 4.
Repeat this breath, until you begin to feel the calm set in and feel a more relaxed state.
When we practice this breath, you may bring in an intention as we do here prior to a yoga practice. For example, we can choose to inhale peace (love), pause, exhale peace (love), pause.
We come to a place where we are taming the tiger within. Your heart, mind and body will thank you.
Let's take extra care of ourselves.
Join me this Ash Wednesday at the PCS&M Chapel in Weymouth at 1:30 pm for a mindful Chair Yoga practice where we will experience Square breathing.
With love, from my heart to yours.
Resident Yoga Teacher and Self Care Doula