I have been practicing and teaching yoga for 27 years, and I have witnessed the power of my own transformation. I still feel anxious and depressed sometimes, but I have learned how to move through these challenging experiences with more ease and flow. I have cultivated resilience. There is no magic pill that we can take to shield ourselves from adversity in life. But there are skills we can practice that will help us move through challenges and navigate difficulty. We can learn how to trust in our ability to thrive in the midst of chaos, and find the center after losing it. Let’s look at the five elements of cultivating a balanced and holistic practice for bouncing back from adversity, and for navigating challenges.
1. The Big Picture When you believe that you are alone in your suffering, you disconnect yourself from the source of your power. Your true power lives in your connection to nature. It’s important to remember that you are always connected to nature, even when you forget. The human soul is made of the same material as nature. There is an invisible matrix that connects you to everything. You are never truly alone. You’ll want to connect to this truth every single day. Look outside, see the trees, the animals, the sky and the stars. Remember that you are a part of this vast and expansive universe, and you are being supported by this miraculous and magical force.
2. The Ground Your body is your protector, your ally, and it is made of instinctual and intuitive wisdom. It is the only part of you that lives in the present moment, and that has direct experience of life. Your mind acts like a filter and translator, but your body is in direct experience. Yoga is such a powerfully healing practice, because it helps you to develop a loving and trusting relationship with your body. It’s important to move your body every day. It can be simple. You can go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, dance in your kitchen or whatever you enjoy. Your body thrives on movement. Think of it like your daily date with your best friend. You open the lines of communication between your mind and your body, and you cultivate strength, stamina and flexibility.
3. Feel and Flow Challenges are often made worse when we avoid the uncomfortable feelings that arise. Emotions are meant to flow. They are energy in motion. Every emotion carries wisdom and specific energies that support you in doing whatever needs to get done. Grief helps you release what is gone; fear wakes you up and prepares you for action; anger clarifies your boundaries and protective mechanisms; and joy teaches you what to amplify in your life. But, if you are afraid of certain emotions, they can get stuck in the body and this creates stuckness in your life. Practice feeling your feelings and letting them move through your body. You can channel this potent energy into art, aligned actions, or in any way that does not cause harm to yourself or others.
4. Showing Up You become what you practice. To cultivate resilience, you need to teach yourself that you know how to show up even when times are tough. I have been practicing yoga almost every for the past 27 years. I practiced through difficult breakups, a divorce, raising twins, challenging cross country moves, international travel, anxiety and depressive episodes, and through the loss of my father. I made a commitment to myself that I would do my practice whether I felt like it or not. This simple (but not easy) commitment has been the most profoundly transformative practice. I learned how to trust in my ability to show up for myself no matter what. Make a commitment to yourself. You can begin with 3 minutes a day, or more if you like. Do someting good for yourself – meditation, yoga, walking outside, etc. This will change your life..
5. Gratitude I know it seems cliché these days, but practicing gratitude really is the most powerful way to build yourself up. Gratitude is one of the highest vibrational frequency emotions, and it taps you into your natural radiance and power. It opens the channels of giving and receiving, and it brings you into a space of receptivity. You can more easily access the abundant resources that are always present. When you feel hopeless or stuck, you can quickly shift your state by becoming aware of the good things around you. It might feel challenging at first to change your perspective, but over time, you will strengthen your gratitude muscles, and expand your capacity for positive emotions and energy.
Breathing Bonus Your breath is your most important ally. Your breath is directly linked to your nervous system, and you can change how you feel by simply tuning into your breath. Box breathing is a simple way to calm your nervous system, reconnect to your own inner ground, and center yourself. It can also help you release any unwanted and obtrusive thoughts. Sit in a comfortable seat with your spine upright. Close your eyes. Inhale for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. Repeat for a few minutes. Stay calm in your body, and relaxed in your mind. Focus your awareness on the breath. Notice how you feel before the practice, and after.
Marni Sclaroff is a life coach, writer, artist and yoga teacher who brings a lifelong passion for living a creative and purposeful life to people all over the world. With more than 30 years of experience in the holistic, visual and movement arts, and a Master’s Degree in Art Education, she is well-versed in the languages of artistry and transformation.