Yoga and mindfulness is a consistent practice regardless of location.
I have been working virtually online since 2014 when I first stepped into the role of ChildLight Director of Trainings. To say it was a struggle to adapt to working online for hours at a time would be an understatement. I clearly remember my husband telling me to walk away from the computer and go for a walk and my children asking me when I had last attended a yoga class. Now it is just my daily life.
What I didn’t know then was how to practice self-care, differentiate work and life hours, turn off my phone (what??!!??), and say NO when I really needed to curl up on the couch and watch a movie. Perhaps this simple Three Step Practice below will be helpful to you, your family or others. It certainly has helped my students, family and me. Enjoy!
Step One: Center and Release Physical Tension
Find a comfortable seat. This is your starting place, not anyone else’s.
Bring your hands together in front of you and rub them together to create a bit of heat.
Gently place them over your eyes to warm and awaken your eyes. Waking up our eyes to see each other more clearly.
Rub your hands together. Gently place them on top of your head. Warming your brain.
Waking up your brain so we think with an open mind.
Again rub your hands together. Gently place your hands over your ears. Warming them.
Waking up our ears so we truly listen to one another without interruption.
Rub your hands together. Gently place them over your neck and throat. Warming it up to encourage clear communication and speaking our truth.
One more time, rub your hands together. Gently place them over your heart center. Warming your heart. So when we speak, listen, think and see we do it from a place of empathy, compassion, and caring for one another.
Take a deep breath all the way in your nose if you are not congested (otherwise breathe in your mouth if necessary). Now exhale all the way out.
NOTE: Taking a breath creates the lifelong healthy habit of building in a pause before speaking or acting to decrease reactivity.
With your hands in front of you, circle your thumbs in one direction, now the other. Circle your index fingers in one direction, now the other. Middle finger, now the other direction. Ring finger, other direction. Pinky finger, and the other direction. Circle your wrists in one direction. Now the other direction. Being mindful of your space and those around you, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle your arms.
Bring your right hand to the floor or surface beside you reaching the left arm up and over coming into a side bend. Bring the left hand to the floor or surface beside you, reaching the right arm up and over coming into a side bend.
If you are in a cross-legged seat, lean back into your hands to change the crossing of your legs. Then do it again. And again. And again. And again!
NOTE: This engages the abdominals which can be empowering. Students can include the positive affirmation “I am strong!” “I am worthy!” “I am powerful!”
Step Two: Proprioception and Nervous System Regulation
If standing up is available to you go ahead and do so. Begin to lightly tap the top of your head with your fingertips. Continue to lightly tap down the front of your face, neck, across your heart, down one arm, the other arm, your abdomen, both legs, up the back of the legs, low back, back of the shoulders, back of the neck, back of the head, ending where you started on the top of your head.
NOTE: This wakes up our nerve endings so we have a better sense of where we are in space.
If you are standing, step your feet a bit wide for a stable foundation. Being mindful to stay in your safe space, begin to swing your arms around side to side like empty coat sleeves.
They may swing low and slow or fast and high depending on how you feel.
NOTE: Crossing the midline balances and regulates the nervous system.
Slow the arms and find stillness. Staying where you are, lower your chin. Take a deep breath all the way in your nose if you are not congested (otherwise breathe in your mouth if necessary). Now exhale all the way out your nose if you are not congested (otherwise breathe out the mouth).
Step Three: Mindful Practices
NOTE: I hear from SO many people and teachers that struggle to teach mindfulness. Quite often it is due to diving right in without Step One and Step Two. If we are uncomfortable and stressed out we are going to struggle with the practice. After tension is released from the physical body and the nervous system is regulated then we are ready. This is the basic premise of yoga.
Below I share this as a seated exercise. However, I incorporate this into the Yoga & Mindfulness Advanced Teaching Concepts Training as a Mindful Walk. Students are asked to write five words or pictures for each of the senses and then craft a story, poem or picture when they return. This can be practiced all at once or one at a time. There are many options!
The Five Senses Mindfulness Practice
Find a comfortable seat if you aren’t already there.
Notice sounds outside of this space.
Notice sounds inside this space.
Notice sounds close to where you are sitting.
Notice sounds inside your own body. Perhaps you swallow or take a deep breath.
Notice the taste of the air around you.
Notice any taste in your mouth such as toothpaste or the last thing you had to eat.
Silently imagine the taste of a sour pickle.
Silently imagine the taste of chocolate.
Silently imagine what cool water would feel like on your tongue.
Notice any smells in the room.
Notice any smells near you.
Silently imagine a smell that you don’t like very much.
Silently imagine a smell that you love.
Notice what you are sitting on. How does it feel? Soft? Hard? Is there another word to describe it silently in your mind?
Notice the temperature of the air around you.
Notice the sensation of air as it enters your nose for the next few breaths.
Notice the sensation of air as it exits your nose for the next few breaths.
Notice the light. Are there any interesting shape shadows today?
How many shades of blue can you find?
Look down. Is there something there you didn’t notice before?
Look up. Is there something there you didn’t notice before?
Inhale, open your eyes. Exhale, lower your gaze or close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Inhale, open your eyes. Exhale, lower your gaze or close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Inhale, open your eyes. Exhale, lower your gaze or close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Inhale, open your eyes. Exhale, lower your gaze or close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so. Inhale, open your eyes. Exhale, lower your gaze or close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so.
Allow your gaze to stay low or eyes to stay closed as you quietly notice the sensation of breath moving in and out of your nose. Let’s sit quietly and continue to breathe quietly for a few moments.
With your next inhale, reach your arms out to the sides and all the way up toward the sky taking a big stretch. Exhale your arms back down by your sides. Take a moment to think of YOUR word for the day. Perhaps it is something like “Breathe” or “Focus” or “Kindness” or “Nature” or “Love”. Think of a word that you want more of today. This is for you to decide and not for anyone else to choose for you. It may even help to write it on a piece of paper and tuck it in your pocket.
Let’s all Do Our Best to Do Good in the World!
Wishing you Peace, Light and Good Health,
Co-Owner, ChildLight Education Company