Monday with Mary

Daily Kundalini Yoga- week of Nov. 16th

Our theme for the next two weeks is staying in the joy!

Gurmukh tells us that during this time we cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought. Being fearful or anxious helps no one. Instead, consider adding joy to people’s lives. This could be the greatest gift you have to offer.

Every day, try to do something for someone- even the smallest gesture can have a huge impact on a loved one, a neighbour or even a stranger passing on the street. Spread joy!

Pranayam: Breath of Ten: to support a disease free state, to trigger the command centre to wake up your immune system.

This is my go-to pranayama at this time of year. Try to work up to 3 mins a day. Can be done up to 11 mins.

Sit in easy pose, straight spine. Elbows are bent and hands in a clapping position- your hands will move in and out as if clapping, but they do not touch.

Concentrate on the energy  building between the palms.

The Practice:  Inhale in 5 strokes through the nose- with each stroke hands move inward (or forward) as if to clap, elbows remain glued to the ribs. Keep this strong!

Exhale in 5 strokes through the mouth- start moving the arms and hands back (or outward).

Do not break the rhythm of the breath and movement.

To end:  Inhale deeply, press your hands against your face and hold. Exhale.

Inhale deeply, press your hands strongly against your heart centre and hold. Exhale

Inhale deeply and press your hands strongly against your navel centre and hold. Exhale and relax fully. Feel the energy circulating within.

 

Warm ups:  To warm up the spine, try Sufi grind, spinal twist, neck rolls and some cat-cow. (Or, refer back to earlier Mondays with Mary and tailor your warm ups to your needs today). Make this practice your own.

Seven Wave Sat Nam Kriya/Meditation
  • Spinal Flex variations- affects every internal organ and keeps our spine and our minds flexible. Try to do each part for 1-2 minutes.

Part 1: Regular spinal flex

Sitting in a comfortable crossed leg position (or a position that supports your body best) Place hands on shins. Inhale and tilt pelvis forward, exhale and lower chest and gently tilt the pelvis back. Keep chin level to the ground.

Part 2: Stay in easy pose or come into Rock pose sitting on heels (or a comfortable seat that supports you).

Press the tongue to the top of the mouth, making contact with the hard palate, balancing the pituitary and connecting to the 3rd eye.

Inhale deeply, hold the breath and flex as many times as possible (while holding the breath.)

Stop- exhale as though through the top of your head.

Start again and continue for 1-2 minutes. This version will open up the entire spine to your life force!

Part 3:

Return to regular spinal flex, but straighten the arms as you flex. This helps to isolate the heart chakra when the elbows are locked. The movement will be smaller and will be higher up the spine. Extend the heart forward as you flex.

Part 4:

Bring hands into the lap and sit. Inhale as deeply as possible, hold as long as possible. Exhale. Repeat 2 more times. Then sit quietly without moving and sense your energy.

 

Seven Wave Sat Nam Meditation

Mudra: Place the palms flat together at the center of the chest in Prayer Pose, with thumbs touching the center of the sternum.

Breath and Mantra:

Inhale deeply, concentrating on the breath. With the exhale, chant the mantra in the law of seven (the law of the tides).

Chant  Sat  (sounds like Sa-a-a-a-a-a–t) in six waves, and  Naam on the seventh.

On each wave, thread or spiral the sound in circles up through the chakras beginning at the base of the spine at the First Chakra.

On Naam, let the energy and sound radiate from the Seventh Chakra at the top of the head through the aura, into Infinity.

As the sound penetrates each chakra, try to visualize the energy circling up the body from the base of the spine to the crown.

Eyes: Focus at the Brow Point.

To end: Inhale deeply, raise your arms above your head and stretch up. Hold the breath and exhale. Repeat 2 more times. Sit quietly, hands in lap and meditate on the energy moving through your being.

 

Take a few moments to relax fully on your back. Allow your body and mind the time to integrate the work you have done. This is when the magic happens.

Sat Nam to each of you,

With love and gratitude,

Mary

If you have any questions or comments about Mary’s teachings, please send us an email and we can connect you with Mary directly.

Photo by Jess Bailey on Pexels.com

 

Have YOU thought about your breast health today?

Statistics show that most people experience breast concerns at some point in their lifetimes, and that the number of women that will discuss these concerns with their primary care giver, or to anyone, is quite low…it’s important to reflect on the why? here.

Perhaps because breasts don’t always receive healthy and therapeutic attention as an important consideration in an individuals overall care of their bodies.  Breasts are often seen as a “taboo” topic, sexualized rather than respected, which gives many people a decreased sense of confidence in voicing any concerns they may have about their breasts.

I want to very gently remind you that your breasts matter, that you matter; every inch of your body matters and is deserving of care and attention.

Breasts are an incredibly important part of female anatomy.  They feed and nurture life for our infants, and hold the energy of nourishment for all of our creations, our breasts are intimately connected to our heart and our lungs, they have an extensive role in our lymphatic system and individualize our beautiful feminine bodies.

I love Sat Dharam Kaur’s analogy of our breasts being like a tree of life within our bodies.   The specific anatomical components are reminisent of a beautiful tree, and their purpose is to nuture life, as well to hold compassionate space for ourselves, our creativity, and for others.

Our breasts have a simple anatomical design and quite straightforward needs; however they are much too often neglected in the overall care of our bodies which can create pain, discomfort, lowered self-confidence and sometimes hold fear or anger.

Breasts don’t have muscles to facilitate movement; therefore they require aid to support ongoing circulation and to prevent dis-ease.  I’ve been working with individuals for almost 20 years now, exploring their breast health and whole body wellness through massage and yoga.  In response to this work and a call for support,  I started holding  breast health workshops in 2007.  It has been an honour holding this space and continueing my own learning along the way.  I’ve witnessed various changes throughout a persons lifespan which directly and indirectly affects our breast health;

  • The menstrual cycle
  • The natural process of aging and associated changes
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy (both during and after)
  • Breastfeeding
  • Dietary changes
  • Emotional stress and trauma
  • Environmental stressors
  • Surgeries, diagnostic procedures
  • Physical trauma
  • Benign and malignant conditions

What can you do for yourself? There are so many simple yet powerful ways you can help to support yourself  in the care of your whole body.   It might be a good consideration for you to educate yourself around:

  • Self-massage
  • Drainage techniques
  • Oils to support your breast tissue
  • Contrast showers and dry brushing
  • Dietary support for your body
  • Yoga and stretching specifically for your breasts.

Your breasts are a part of your body, a life nourishing part, that are as deserving of care as every other part of you; it’s never too early or too late to establish healthy breast practices.

Written with love by Amber Young

Join me later this spring, in April, for a powerful 6 week exploration into your breast health, and your whole body wellness.  Dates and details to be announced

I look forward to this journey with you…..

What can you expect?

  • We’ll be discussing the connections between your breast health and your whole body
  • Learn and practice yoga and stretching specifically for your hormone and breast health
  • Learn self breast massage and other self care techniques you can put into practice immediatlely
  • Learn more about your lymphatic system and how you can optimize the ways it supports you
  • Discuss the emotional aspects of this sacred part of our body
  • Connect with community in a safe way
  • Weekly check in/practice sessions (either in person and/or zoom – TBA closer to the date)
  • Recieve practice videos, worksheets, and handouts as we move through the weeks
  • Ongoing support

Who am I?  I’m a Registered Massage Therapist, Healthy Breast Program Facilitator (in training), Registered Yoga Teacher and mother of 2,  with a diverse background in breast health, hospice work, cancer support, stress management and relaxation techniques.

I’ve spoken for organizations such as Rethink Cancer: Live, Laugh, Learn in Ottawa, Wellspring Cancer Support Center in Toronto, Breast Education seminars for RMT’s, Annual Perth Women’s Health Conference in support of Interval House, as well as for various clinics in Toronto and in the Ottawa Valley area.  My focus in clinical practice is on breast health, cancer support, cranialsacral therapy and  mindbody wellness – integrating your whole self wellness into your care.

If you have any questions or concerns that you think I may be able to help you with, or if you’d like to find out more about this spring offering, send me a direct email at amber@suryadaya.ca

Thanks for reading!

The Waves Continue – celebrating you as we dance through day 30!

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust, equally the beech, the oaks and the pines, they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself, in which I have goodness and discernment, and never hurry through the world but walk slowly and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves and call out “stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches. And they call again,

“It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled with light, and to shine.”

Mary Oliver

This beautiful piece was shared with me after a community karma class that I held a few weeks ago on this sacred land, the birthing place for this 30 day yoga support challenge.

A group of us gathered for an outdoor community class in support of a precious little man, and in honour of all the brave little souls who are handed very big challenges in the early days of their lives.  We know many of you have travelled some difficult roads these past 7 months, you are being held in my heart, always.

I wanted to share this poem by Mary Oliver with you today, it really hits home and I feel reminds us of what is so often forgotten.  It perfectly encapsulates our time together over these 30 days, and the gifts of this practice, especially as we deepen our connection with nature.

We made it!  Whether you joined us on our 5 check point days, checked in every few days, or were here for the full 30 days I want you to know how proud of you I am!  Infusing your daily practice with self love and gratitude, such a gift.

I wish you could be with me today, dancing in the forest, for our celebratory day 30 – something to look forward to one day!

To view todays practice click here

I wonder how you’re feeling? How this experience has been for you.

Let this be a starting place for your own daily commitment to your self care and living a life infused with gratitude, that is my hopes, as the waves continue.

Thank you to everyone who stayed the course with me, you have been amazing companions – and I am sooooo grateful.

I also want to thank everyone who came out to the forest for our recent and spontaneous community classes.  It has been magical coming together to practice again, quite emotional.

It makes my heart happy that Lindsey is offering some  weekly classes, through to December, at the Old Town Hall.  We can connect you directly with Lindsey if you’d like more details or would like to register.  We have some other potential in person offerings being created, following all the COVID guidelines, just working out a few details.

We know this has been a long road, and the road of uncertainty continues, but we’re still here holding ground for you, as we navigate our next steps.

In the meantime, I wonder – what are YOU grateful for today?

Today I feel so grateful that mother nature supported this important project, our 30 day yoga support challenge, all the way up to where we find ourselves today

I feel grateful for the people that hold safe space for me, and for you

I am grateful for the music found in nature, a perfect symphony of support

Our journey doesn’t end here, and I am excited for what’s ahead (all of your seeds are being planted – thank you for your wish lists for video and online offerings going forward, yep, I’m excited).

For those of you who want to go back and move through the full 30 days, it will be staying up on my video page, the link is below.

Wishing you a beautiful and joyful rest of your week.

With so much love, and a huge congratulations hug,

Amber

xo

If you’d like to practice with Amber in the comfort of your own home, Click here to subscribe to Amber’s exlusive weekly videos, class recordings, and extra wellness support 

Amber also offers small group classes in your home, one on one sessions, and classes in the forest.  Contact her directly to find out more details.  amber@suryadaya.ca

Our sacred community tree

Mondays with Mary

Daily Kundalini Yoga- Week of November 2nd

*Note: Mondays with Mary will change to a bi-weekly format, coming at the beginning and middle of each month. We hope you will repeat each class several times to deepen your practice. (You may also wish to look back over past weeks and pick one or two favorites to practice on alternate days)

November is a month of Acceptance, learning not to simply accept what happens but to truly enjoy everything that comes your way.

In the words of Epictetus:

Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will – then your life will flow well.”

 

Postures: Kriya for any Unknown Disease

I want to share with you a kriya offered by Master teacher, Gurushabd.

There are only 2 exercises but they are powerful in helping us to harness sun energy to burn out any foreign bodies or viruses in the body.

When we practice this kriya, we are stimulating and balancing the glandular and immune systems, triggering antibodies to deal with any foreign material.

We change internally when we practice, and change can only begin within ourselves. Through our very presence, we can beam out hope and love, kindness and compassion rather than fear, anxiety, worry.

We can move through the pandemic as yogis!

Warm ups: Choose from the following- Sufi grind, Spinal Flex, Spinal Twist, Neck Rolls, Cat-cow, Forward Bends. (Or go back to an earlier week and pick a favorite warm up routine.) Try to spend up to 10 minutes with gentle warm ups.

Kriya: Each exercise can be done up to 11 mins. Start with 2 mins and work up.

  1. Arm Pumps in Prayer Pose: This posture connects the heart and the head and helps to restore balance.

Come to a comfortable seated position, spine is tall, chin slightly tucked.

Bring your palms together in prayer pose at the heart.

Raise your hands in prayer pose up to where the tips of your fingers would reach the 3rd eye, then lower the hands to the heart centre.

Continue pumping the arms up and down rhythmically between heart and 3rd eye.  Keep pressure on the palms.

Eyes are 1/10th open.  Try to lock your gaze at the tip of the nose.

To end:

Inhale deeply, hold the breath and squeeze and press the palms firmly, feeling pressure across the sternum. Squeeze the spine, the entire body. Exhale.

Repeat 2 more times.

Exhale, relax and place hands on knees and meditate for one minute. Feel the silence.

  1. Inner Sun Breath: Try to practice this powerful breath every day!!

Remain seated.

With left hand, the thumb holds down the ring (sun) finger and the remaining 3 fingers are straight up. Elbow bends and hand comes near shoulder, as if in a salute.

Make a fist with the right hand, index finger (Jupiter) is straight up.

With Index finger, block off Right nostril and begin Breath of Fire through the Left nostril, the sun nostril.

With each breath move the diaphragm up and down, the navel comes in and up on the exhale.

Keep the breath very powerful and create heat!

To end:

Bring the arms down, interlock the hands together, palms face inward and place hands in front of sternum, elbows aim down and back.

Inhale deeply, hold and pull. Place maximum pressure on the sternum, push the chest forward, let the arms shake you are pulling so hard! Exhale and release pressure. Repeat 2 more time. Relax and allow breath to normalize.

Relax on your back, cover up and totally let go for a few minutes.

Finish your practice with a personal prayer of gratitude and hope. Sat Nam!

With love to each of you,

Mary

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Join me in the woods for day 20 of our yoga support challenge

Beautiful YOU, celebrating you today from the forest!!

Welcome to day 20, wow, this has been an unexpectedly profound journey!

I’m so grateful you’re here, and for those of you joining us from our wider circle, welcome to a check point day on our 30 days of self-care, nature yoga, and gratitude!

Today is extra special as we also lean into the energy of the full moon and this transitional time in the full cycle of a year.

Sharing some thoughts that arose for me this morning…………..

Allow gratitude in when you don’t know something, this gives you the opportunity to feel curious, to explore and to learn.

Allow gratitude in during the difficult times. these are the times you have the opportunity to grow and to reassess.

Allow gratitude in for your real and imagined limitations, they give you opportunities for compassionate awareness, empathy and deeper understanding.

Allow gratitude in for every new challenge, this is when we access our courage and dive deeper into our strength, building upon our foundation

Allow gratitude in when you make mistakes, they remind us we are human and they help to keep our egos in check

Allow gratitude in when you’re tired and weary and feel like you can’t keep going, it reminds you to rest and to tend to your own self care.

It’s easy to be thankful for the obvious things in our lives, but the biggest gifts are often in the hidden blessings.

GRATITUDE ….. fill your whole self with gratitude……..every day……..

I wonder how you’re feeling today?

As I sit and ponder what is needed for our practice today, so many things float into my awareness, I sit and breathe a little longer before I press record, listening to the earth, and allowing the wisdom of our collective consciousness – yes that’s all of you, and whatever arises in my body, to guide our time together.

Join me as we move through a gentle flow of breath and body, honouring our yoga as a meditation giving ourselves permission to be mindful of the whole process.

To join me for the practice Click here

Make sure you listen to what is needed for you today.

Thank yourself for taking this time for your own self care, remember we have to build our own resources to continually nourish and revitalize ourselves in order to keep ourselves feeling balanced and whole.

Self care is paramount to your ability to keep moving with the flow of life, riding the ups and the downs. I want to remind you it’s your birthright to be happy and to feel good in your body and mind.

I wonder now, what arises for you as you turn your attention to your gratitudes today? Breath it into your heart, and send it out.

It’s a good idea to start with 3 things, they can be as simple as the pillow you rest your head upon as you drift off to sleep. I know I’m grateful for mine 😉

I am also grateful for my nana, who left this earth far to early

I am grateful for my grandmother and the opportunity I had to really know her and to really see her

I am grateful for the moon and all of her phases, for the wisdom found in aligning with her cycles, and the invitation for healing in the calmness of her energy.

Till tomorrow, and for those of you in our greater circle joining us for our check in dates – we’ll see you on day 30!!

Much love
Amber

For access to the full 30 days, weekly exlusive practices, and recordings of Amber’s live classes, you can sign up here

 

Yahooooooo We Made It To Day 15 Of Our 30 Days Of Yoga, Self Care And Gratitude

Welcome to Day 15 on our 30 days of yoga, self care and gratitude together!

I’m so grateful YOU are here, so grateful! Yahoooooooooo we made it, we’re at the midway point of our time together – well for this 30 day challenge anyways!!

Welcome also to our greater community, as we share today’s practice with a larger group as a check in day. Remember, we’ll be sharing day 20 and day 30 as well, to help keep you all on track during this time of great change in our world.

Today feels like a good day to move through some sun salutations together, as the rain falls outside, what a better way to celebrate our inner sun – carrying us through the cloudy days! Although I’m going to offer you a variation of sun salutations with rest periods and opportunities to explore along the way.

To practice along with me, and view today’s video Click here

Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations are an amazing daily practice, they stretch all parts of you, they move our energy, they create space inside, and they help us to feel more awake and alive.

When I named the yoga studio a few years back it was a very meaningful and personal process.  I spent a lot of time in silent meditation waiting for the name to be given to me, I knew then things were changing and it was important to give birth to something new. I had countless conversations with my life partner around the meaning and the intentions that I brought and continue to bring to our community. I remember the morning,  It was very clear as Surya Daya was whispered inside of me.  Surya means sun in Sanskrit – the energy of the sun encourages us to grow into our full potential, inviting us to release unhealthy patterns and negative energy to welcome in a positive influx of strength, nourishment and love, balancing the body and the mind. Daya means compassion – the place I want you to connect with inside of yourself every time you come to your practice – your compassionate heart is YOUR greatest teacher. This is my intention every time I hold space for myself and for YOU, to follow the wisdom of compassion.

As the yoga studio is once again evolving, Surya Daya will stay with me, as a safe haven for your wellness journey. Grounded in compassion, always, grounded in compassion.

Take your time with this practice today, and I encourage you to move through the flow at least 3 – 5 times on your own. You can follow my offerings as a guideline, or allow your sun salutations to be birthed from your body wisdom, the best kind.

I am so grateful you are taking this time everyday to care for your self

I am grateful for these ancient teachings and for everyone brave enough to continue to carry the torch forward. I am honoured and grateful to be able to share these teachings with you.

I am grateful for all of my teachers, there are to many to name here, but I whisper their names every morning in deep gratitude.

What are you feeling grateful for today??

Sending you my heart full of love, ‘till tomorrow for those on the full daily 30 day journey with me, and for everyone else, we’ll see you on day 20!

Big hugs,

Amber

Mondays with Mary

Daily Kundalini Yoga- Week of October 26th

Author M.J. Ryan in the book Attitudes of Gratitude talks about the importance of choosing to be grateful “in spite of” something else. We can’t wait until everything is perfect to be thankful, or we may never experience it at all! 

A wonderful way to practice gratitude is called “Dedicate this Moment”- the desire to spread the joy around. When you are enjoying something thoroughly and feeling truly grateful for it, send the positive energy of that moment to someone in need. 

M.J. Ryan says that developing the muscle of gratitude is like exercising any other. At first it may seem weird or awkward, but creating some daily practice or ritual helps build the gratitude muscle until it comes naturally.

Pranayam: For Peace of Mind

Sit in easy pose, eyes gently closed down.

Close off right nostril with right hand and take smooth equal inhales and exhales through the left nostril. 

After a minute or so, switch sides.

To end: Inhale both nostrils, hold and release. 

Postures: (1-2 minutes each)

  • Arm circles- in easy pose, make fists and begin large backward circles. Start slowly and gradually increase the pace.

 

  • Head turns- in easy pose, inhale and turn the head to the left, exhale and turn head to the right. To end- inhale and bring chin to chest to stretch the back of the neck. Hold for a few breaths.

 

  • Ego Eradicator- raise arms up into V position. Fingers are curled onto the pads of the hands, thumbs up toward sky. Focus at 3rd eye. Begin a powerful breath of fire. To end, take a deep inhale and as you hold the breath, bring the thumbs to touch overhead, exhale and sweep arms down through the aura. Allow the finger tips to touch the ground by your side, inhale deeply through the nose, exhale cannon breath with a big sigh. Repeat 3x.

 

  • Beat the ground- come onto the back, head on mat, raise legs to 90. Arms are by the sides, palms down. Begin to beat the ground hard and fast, using the entire length of the arm. Release anger and frustration.

 

  • 3 part circular leg lift- remain on back, arms by side or under buttocks for support. Begin with legs outstretched, inhale and bring knees into chest, then up to 90, exhale as legs lower to the ground. Continue the pattern.

 

  • Cross crawls on back- remain on back, palms down by sides. Inhale and bring left knee to chest, right arm to ground behind you (backstroke motion). Exhale down and continue with right knee and left arm. Continue in smooth strokes.

 

  • Cat Stretch on back- begin a diagonal stretch, bringing one bent leg across the other. Twist to the side. Repeat on the other side. Continue back and forth. Feel a stretch through the entire spine.

 

Relax completely on the back and allow your back body to become heavy. Totally let go.

For reflection:

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.   Seneca

Love to all,

Mary

Mary Biggs

Welcome To Day 10 As We Honour Our 30 Days of Gratitude

Welcome to day 10, on our 30 days of yoga support, a journey of gratitude as we commit to our own self care cultivating peace and balance!

This is a milestone day, for those of you who have been following along with the videos, thank you for being such an inspiration to me. I too have committed to this self care journey right alongside of you.

To join me for our practice video for today click here

For those of you checking in with us on these check in points along the way, I’m so glad you’re here and I hope you find our practice together nourishing!

“Hokusai says look carefully.

He says pay attention, notice

He says keep looking, stay curious

He says there is no end to seeing…….

He says everything is alive – 

Shells, buildings, people, fish

Mountains, trees.  Wood is alive.

Water is alive.

Everything has its own life.

Everything lives inside us.

He says live with the world inside you……

It matters that you care.

It matters that you feel.

It matters that you notice.

It matters that life lives through you…..

Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.

Let life live through you.”

I love this piece by Roger Keyes, as he reflects on the teachings of a wise Japanese Artist. This musing reminds us of our belonging – not only to ourselves, but to life as a whole. He opens us to the remembrance that we matter and that within each of us we contain the potential to move with the whole experience of life.

If you’re working with a journal through our 30 days of gratitude and yoga support, I offer you an invitation to sit with this piece. Take some time in silence before sitting with your journal and reflect on what arises for you. What you feel, what moves through you, what you notice – ALL of it matters.

As an additional support today I’m including the link from the recording from our live mindful meditation and movement class from yesterday, just if you feel a longer guided practice would be supportive for you. In our class we brought in the profound reflection of Keyes’s poem, as an anchor and a moving meditation for our practice, I offer that experience for you here

To access the recording from Tuesdays Mindful Movement class click here

Please note, as we do live in the forest and this is where I do many of my live classes, due to our limited internet the recordings of my live zoom classes aren't always the sharpest, this Mindful Movement class is from a live recording.  

The active practice of gratitude changes our life, it opens us and allows us a deeper understanding of what is handed to us, honouring the darkness and the light.

Thank you for being on this journey with me, if you have any questions or thoughts, I’m here as a safe space for you.

I ask you now, what are you grateful for? Start with 3 things, and see where that takes you……….

I am grateful for the roof over my head, giving me shelter and warmth.

I am grateful for the strength I find in my sisters

I am grateful for the way my body moves, and the understanding that yoga is what keeps my body moving despite any aches or pains, yoga is my medicine

Thank you for being with me on this 30 day journey, either on a daily basis – or for these milestone check points.

For many of you, I’ll see you tomorrow, and for our greater check in community, see you on day 15 – our midway point!!

Lots of love,

Amber

https://www.patreon.com/amberyoungwellness (to access the full 30 days you can go to my patreon page, or send me an email at amber@suryadaya.ca)

COVID, Kids and all the feelings

Written by Nicki Gallo (as published in the June edition of the HUMM)

There’s this exercise that I like do when I work with kids. It helps us to explore how our feelings are something that we experience in our bodies as well as our minds. First, I give the child a piece of paper with the outline of a person. I ask them to colour the location on the body where they feel certain emotions and match it with a colour. For example, they may feel red – anger in their hands “I’m so mad I could punch someone!” Or feel yellow – nervousness in their bellies “I have butterflies in my tummy!” 

Nicki_June_Humm_PictureSometimes, a child may fill the outline of the person with one colour, but this may not match what behaviour is happening on the outside. For example, the child could be acting out with angry temper tantrums or be completely withdrawn, however their outline is covered in just one emotion: fear.  

Anger and disengagement can mask more vulnerable and raw emotions like sadness or fear. 

When I personally take the time to shave down the layers of an emotional outburst, it usually comes down to “I’m scared.” 

This may not be the reality in every case; however, it can give us insight into what may be happening under the surface. 

This is an unfamiliar and uncertain time. Children are extremely empathic and can pick up on the stress that this virus is having on our daily lives. It’s often scarier when things aren’t being said as they can tell that the energy has shifted, but they don’t know why. With the recent news of schools in Ontario not returning this year, despite initial excitement, this can be scary and a big loss for kids. Loss of routine can mean a loss of control. 

We may all be feeling a lot of big complicated emotions right now and not know how to express them. What we are feeling on the inside may not be what we are expressing on the outside. 

How can we help our children increase their emotional vocabulary and express feelings in a positive way?  How can we do the same as adults? 

Here are a few ideas that may work with kids and kids at heart:

Name it to Tame it

The idea “name it to tame it” is a strategy to help make sense of our experience and feel more in control. When big emotions are out of control (right-brain) telling the story of what’s upsetting us (logical left-brain), integrates the brain, names the fears and helps to tame them. 

Rose, Bud, Thorn

Many of our routines have disappeared. Having a simple daily check-in with each other is a great way to put words to emotions. A popular check-in tool is “Rose, Bud, Thorn.” This is good to do at dinner time or at the end of the day.  

Rose: share your favourite part of the day

Bud: share something you are looking forward to doing tomorrow

Thorn: share your least favourite part of the day

Play!

Some of the best conversations take place while doing something else. Play is a child’s language and sometimes, to talk about big feelings, it’s easier to play while doing it. We can gain insight into their inner worlds or it may just be a great way to distract ourselves. Doing activities your kids like to do makes them feel connected and more secure. This goes for adults too. 

Providing space for kids to express themselves and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel a lot of feelings right now is a wonderful way to support them in this bizarre time we’re in. 

Nicki2Nicki Gallo is a Certified Play Therapist. She runs play and creativity workshops and is not afraid to use glitter. She is a retired Toronto SickKids Hospital therapeutic clown and is currently creating online content to help children recognize and express emotions with her new clown, Emerald. You can check out the videos here.

We are super excited to have Nicki joining our collective at Surya Daya.  She’ll be helping to support and assist in making sure we can continue to offer you inspiring and educational events and community initiatives (as soon as we’re able to), as well as be another support for each of you as we reopen.  Nicki is excited to be offering amazing workshops and one on one sessions to support families and individuals in our community.  She is magic and reminds us to stay connected to our inner spark of joy and play, she looks forward getting to know you better!

 

Resources: Anxiety Canada, About Kids Health/Covid19, Child Mind Institute