As climate strikes pepper the land, it strikes me how one little person from Sweden has inspired millions to speak up about what they are passionate about – Mother Earth.
I had the privilege of spending Monday evening with 8 hand-picked young yogis in London. They had all been through a selection process and were chosen for their passion and experience in yoga.
Inspired by Greta Thunberg and the influence she has had in the world, young people are gathering together to offer their solution to the worlds’ problems. These young people have all practised yoga for many years already. Two of them were on the autistic spectrum. They came to be trained to share yoga with their peers in the new programme run by the Teen Yoga Foundation.
Again and again we hear the cry from the young – we are experiencing a mental health crisis, but what can we do about it?
These brave young souls will be marching forth into the arena of mental health, equipped with specific training to help others, multiplying the wellbeing effect in their school and other contexts.
In yoga we learn how to lift ourselves up, by controlling our minds, by lifting and opening our hearts, we learn how to be well on every level. Part of being well is recognising our interdependence with the planet and each other. Once we recognise this, we can only support others.
There is no separation between us – this profound truth is experienced in meditation, one young person at a time, finding their feet, finding their way, finding their wellness, lifting themselves and others up into light and hope.
- What does inclusivity mean within yoga?
- How does language influence your teaching and therapy practice?
- How do you approach students and clients dealing with chronic conditions?
- How can prisoners benefit from yoga?
- An article on hosting an LGBTQ+ friendly class from Lana Skrypnyk
- A live Q&A on body positivity and fighting against the biases in yoga with Donna Noble
- A webinar from Heather Mason on social prescribing in the UK
- A live class with Sian O’Neill, which you can follow from wherever you are through our live stream!
- Talk to a school about a taster day for World Peace day
- Mention the evidence that yoga increases social cohesion within a school and in a community.
- Send out a press release to your local press and let your local MP know.
Teen Yoga graduate Niki Moss Simpson recently launched her first book as co-author of the best selling Pay It Forward series: Notes to My Younger Self. Here, in an excerpt from her blog, Niki talks about teens and their needs.
No One ever said parenting was going to be easy, right? And the teenage years are definitely not easy years to parent. A glass of wine, selective hearing & friends as equally confused as you, make it all a little bearable.
But can you remember what it was like to be a teenager yourself? Can you remember how you felt misunderstood, awkward, swinging from one mood to another in the blink of a rolling eye or a loudly voiced disapproving tut?
Well, yes, it’s a different decade & yes, lots has changed & yes, of course you had things much worse but certain things remain the same physiologically including brain, physical & emotional development & these are very much running the messy show in your teens life.
So, grab that glass of wine, settle down in a comfortable chair cos here is what your teen son or daughter wants you to know (kinda)…
To read more of Niki’s blog read here.
His Royal Highness Prince Charles said yesterday, “By its very nature, yoga builds discipline, self-reliance and supports self-care – all of which contribute to improved health. Indeed practised within a group, it has tremendous social benefits as well”. These words were spoken at the first national conference on yoga in healthcare that occurred last weekend in London where I was speaking about yoga for young people. His words bring support to those who have practised yoga for a long time and might open the door to this majestic practise to those who are looking to prolong and increase their quality of life. There is a movement for yoga to be included in school curricula and also for it to be prescribed by doctors in GP surgeries to help with various specific conditions. This may well change our perspective on healthcare from relying on outside help and support to taking control and power over our own health.
When we come into a space to move together, ground ourselves, feel into our aches and pains and work out how to relieve them by ourselves, controlling the breath and the emotions, to end in deep relaxation together, we can become masters of our destiny.
Yoga teaches us to accept ourselves as we are, embracing us into a peaceful community. When we accept ourselves unconditionally, we will accept others without judgment or criticism. This leads to a pleasant life and an effortless sharing of peace.
This weekend was the inaugural conference on yoga in healthcare. It had me thinking. When we say, “Yoga changed my life”, what do we mean? Which aspect was it that actually shifted my state so profoundly? What is it that is so healthful and that works so deeply?
Is it the movement? Is it feeling stronger and more flexible in my body, feeling more alive? Undoubtedly!
Is it the breath, being able to control my emotions and thoughts to some small degree by using my breath. Learning that I can drop my cortisol levels and my heart rate, by using the breath – most certainly!
Is it calming the mind, learning to respond in a more socially acceptable way, in a kinder way? That helps.
Is it meditation? The knowing that there is a deep, calm space inside me where I can rest whenever I want to? For sure, this helped me a lot.
Is it the chanting, that opens the heart and sublimates emotion to devotion? Oh, this has been so blissful for me at times!
Is it the touch of the yoga teacher and the soothing voice? When are we touched without any request? When are we spoken to in comforting, gentle voice? When are we given permission to let go, to surrender to the greater good, to Mother Earth, to the guru within ourselves?
Is it the simple Namaste at the end? The light/Divine in me sees the light/Divine in you. To be Divine, to be recognised as Divine. How could we not be moved by this? To be brought into the numinous, the holy, magical and mystical part of ourselves and of life – enriching and deepening.
Or is it the effect of being told everything we want, everything we desire, is already here within us? We are already perfect. We have nothing more to be or do. This deeply peaceful state of being certainly helps.
But as I watch my ageing mother, alone and sick and my burgeoning teens go out in the world, I understand, it is the community that brings belonging, brings meaning and brings connection, which enriches their lives and places them in a meaningful space which keeps them well.
So it is for me too. The community that is committed to silent communion in truth – Sat-Chid-Ananda. This. Brings. Solace. This. Brings. Healing. This gives us permission to develop a secure attachment to ourselves and those around us sometimes for the first time in our lives.
To be surrounded by others who are dedicated to service for the greater good and who naturally see each other with an unconditional positive regard (Carl Rogers).
Most definitely. Coming into authenticity, truth, light within ourselves makes us feel complete and content. We become acutely aware when it is absent. We seek out others, who carry that light of truth, who somewhere have touched upon contentment, touched upon the lack of constant hunger to please, to desire, to need, to be acknowledged, but content in itself, can rest for a while in calm.
For me – paying attention to myself and coming into meditation is this space of calm. But more, so much more is the beauty of a group of souls together who are all resting in calm and beauty and truth. We co-regulate ourselves into this space. A greater consciousness permeates us as a group. Satsang.
This is the kernel of how yoga changed my life, it is at the centre of it all and I am constantly looking to rest in that space of satsang. A bright, light community where grasping and transaction drop away. Where just being is enough.
When yoga becomes transactional, when it becomes a product to be sold, when it moves into spheres where these actions are normal, we need to remain strong and remain in our satsang in order to not fall into this group thought of hunger and grasping. How do we do that?
By strengthening our bonds with each other in satsang, in trust and support, having each other’s back, recognising again and again tat twam asi (I am that, we are one). Standing together in love.
“They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart.” (Bhagavad Gita 2:54)
Today I am celebrating my 53rd birthday with 30 people. This event makes me aware of community, as my friends and family come together to blow up balloons, cook, pick flowers, make coffee and lay the table for 30 guests from near and far.
In a world which deifies the individual, the word community has become a precious concept. In the light of recent events, we are reminded of the importance of solidarity, unity and selfless action which lie at the core of a compassionate society.
A compassionate society is a successful society. When we can trust our neighbour, when we can feel empathy for our fellow human and when we feel able to support a stranger in the face of adversity, we fill a void that cannot be filled by the next i-Phone.
Our human connection is at the core of beauty, grace and love. It elevates us above being mere consumers and makes us into living, breathing, precious entities, that make a difference. We cease to see another human in terms of what he’s wearing or driving, but instead by the light in her eyes, by the generosity of spirit and by the openness of heart.
But all we need to do is look at how any ecosystem works, to understand we cannot and will never function as individuals in a cold world, it is simply not possible, we need each other, we need a mother to be born from, we need friends to lean on, we need other individuals to help us along in life – we are in fact never alone. There is always someone to be grateful for.
Our community is who we are. On our own we have little power, little meaning and little hope of understanding the true value of being human.
So we need to look up and into the eyes of others, smile and say hello – acknowledging this precious life we have a little more often! Personally, I’m off to blow up some more balloons!