28 Day Challenge | Day 11 Self Care + Restoring Our Weary Places

Everything we do is infused with the energy with which we do it. If we’re stressed and frantic, our life will carry that same vibration. And if we’re grounded and peaceful, so will our life be.” – Marianne Williamson

A dear friend once told me that she knew I was stressed. At first, I denied it. “Me? Stressed?! What makes you say that??” But as I thought through my day, and how I felt like i was a skipping rock – not skipping rocks, but the actual rock skipping across the surface of water.I was working at 1,000 miles an hour – working through big projects at school, finishing assignments, looking for internship opportunities, and working like crazy to keep my student organization running smoothly by doing ALL THE WORK. Some days my feet felt as if they were floating above ground, like time was slipping so quickly underneath me that all I had to do was take a step, and I would be 10 feet farther ahead. I was moving fast, hoping that each connection I made, briefly, with the earth would get me enough contact to make the next leap.

She replied “I can see it in your hair.”

Without a mirror, I took my hand to the top of my head and felt the frizzled line between my forehead and messy bun. “Stressed?” I thought. “YES. Yes, I probably am.”

What is worse than the choices I was making – because they are, after all, choices – to be as busy as I was, to move at the pace by which I was living life, to burn myself into each and every obligation that came my way – was that I had so little self awareness that I wasn’t even aware that I was stressed.

Learning to be Grounded – A Lesson in Yoga

As a yoga teacher, I specialize in the element Earth. Earth is grounding, womb-like, calm, practical. Earth is the beginning of life, as it gives life to seeds, which grow roots, and embed themselves in the soil, as a foundation for growth and prosperity.

In my classes, I take this element to practice by teaching how to literally connect their feet with the ground below them, to grow each pose from that connection, and I speak to it over and over and over again.

And it’s very effective.

I know because I can see it in the way people are able to balance in advanced poses. I can see it in the way they get ready to leave class, lingering on their mat. I can see the relief in their expression as they move from one pose to the next.

Because, it turns out, most of us are disconnected not just from our mats, but from our actual feet and the symbolic and literal connection we make with the earth every time we step, stand, walk.

Finding Ground Through Self-Care

So how do we get more grounded? Honestly, it’s a practice I work on every single day. I’ll start by giving you the practice, then some poses that help find it.

In order to find grounding, the first thing you need to do is get quiet with yourself. Take a few minutes every day – even if it’s literally in your bed at the beginning or end of every day – to get quiet.

Work on clearing your mind.

Every time a thought comes your way, try to let it go. If you have to fill your mind with something, think of the ocean, or lake water, or a stream, the quiet, even sounds of slow motion. Breath deeper. Close your eyes or gaze softly at a point far away from you. Feel the clarity that comes from giving yourself space to just be in a moment.

I like to continue this practice through a series of poses. Here are some of my favorites – and favorites my yogi friends have shared with me.

Legs Up the Wall

Laying on the ground, bring your tailbone to meet the wall. Extend your feet at 90 degrees, so that your feet are directly up the wall, resting. Close your eyes. If you feel any tension or pressure in your lower back, add a blanket or towel under your back. Hang here for a few minutes. Breathe.

Forward Folds

Really, ANY version of your body folding works great here. Sometimes I like to keep my legs about mats-width distance apart, sometimes I go really wide (like in the picture below), whatever you choose, work on lifting your hips and dropping your head down. Ease off by bending your knees if you feel any pressure in your back. This is about relaxing, after all!

Hip Openers

If you know half pigeon, this is a great hip opener. Laying over a bent knee for a minute or two really helps to open and release tension. I typically do this pose before bed, especially on nights when I’m having trouble sleeping. Just make sure that you’re not pulling your knee or ankle, and adjust your leg and hips until you get that perfect stretch.

You can also do this same pose on your back by cradling your knee to ankle in your arms.

Hamstring Stretches

Hamstring stretches of ANY kind. Think back to your high school sports days (if you had them) or just make up your own. Just remember, it’s not about straightening your legs, it’s about getting a good stretch bum to calf.Keep the stretch there and make sure to only hold for a couple of minutes. Too much of this, or any of these poses – especially if you’re not used to it – can lead to injury.

 

Keep it short, keep it real, and get into something deep. ENJOY!

 

xoxo,

Julie

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For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” After a challenging 2016, my choice for 2017 is to become SECURE. Each month, I’m focused on a different aspect of securing who I am, where I am, and what we’re doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.

MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, is and international organization that encourages and equips mothers of young children to realize their potential as mothers and leaders. “We’ve all been placed in this time and place in history, as the tribe of women who are raising the world. And the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree with one another but everyone is in and we all need each other.” This 28-day challenge is coupled with reading, a daily truth or dare, and videos and resources that allow us to connect, discuss, and dive into this topic of woman-hood and mother-hood. Come back daily, or read along in this thread, to see my posts and stories for each day.

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