Call me a martyr, or maybe just motherly, but I always seem to think of the giving part when lying back in Savasana, palms facing upwards in ‘an attitude of giving and receiving.’
Some teachers tend to point out the receiving part of open-palms, and I want to pipe up: it’s all about balance—we have to give in order to receive.
I’m a self-confessed balance junkie, but if I’m honest with myself, I tend towards being a (prolific) giver. I give and give, and if I’m really honest, I seek at least some recognition in return.
It’s not so much that I’m overly generous, as that I need to please too much (shoo needy ego). And when acknowledgement isn’t forthcoming, I can get my cranky pants on (you’ve been warned)!
Replenish By Receiving
I don’t think I’m out on my own in the perpetual giving stakes – most parents, and I’m going to stick my neck out and say particularly mothers, will relate.
Yoga is a gift that keeps on giving.
It can be a thankless job that leaves you depleted. That is until you hit the mat, or meditate on how much you’ve been given. Here’s how yoga, meditation and simple mindful moments can fill you up so you can give (and receive) some more.
1. In Savasana, focus a long, strong inhale on receiving with gratitude. Hold the breath in self-love,then exhale slowly—not to let go of pain, but to give out love. Try a mantra: “I receive with gratitude, love myself, give freely.”
And try to ensure your inhale is at least as long as your exhale, so you start to reverse that feeling of depletion.
2. We expend a lot of yang energy on a strong standing practice, but when we get to the floor,it’s nurturing yin time. Try to focus as much of your attention on this part of a class, rather than flopping to the floor in relief and tuning out.
Receive the restorative benefits –perhaps in the exhale release in a wind-removing posture, or in the self-hug of an inward compression asana like Rabbit.
3. A strong backbend like Camel might remind you of how you’re always ‘bending over backwards’ for other people. Instead, focus on the opening up of all the chakras down the mid-line, particularly at your heart and throat, and make yourself open to receiving love (including your own) and to speaking up for your own needs.
4. Give yourself self-compassion.On the mat when you can’t touch your toes, release your heels to the floor in Downward Dog, or get your forehead to your knee. Be gentle with yourself in meditation when your monkey mind won’t slow down.
Notice your thoughts without judging. Yoga only asks for our presence, nothing more – the rest is our ego’s expectations. If you fill yourself with your own compassion you’ll never be empty, no matter what your ego wants.
5. Give others compassion. When we are kind to ourselves, it is easier to be compassionate towards our partner, children, friends or colleagues. We CAN ‘feel full’ with whatever we are given without expecting more (or expecting much at all from demanding kids).
6. Try considering your giving as Karma yoga. When giving is a path to enlightenment with no expectation of reward, you realize how much you actually gain.
7. When you hug someone (particularly your kids), don’t just focus on the hug you’re giving but the one you’re receiving (this can be hard with a reluctant tween/teen). Hugging is a two-way squeeze!
8. Finally, give yourself the gift of yoga by showing up, on the mat and in life, as often as you can.
Yoga is a gift that keeps on giving. All you have to do is receive with gratitude.