Sonia Doubell began her working career as a model but soon realised that there was more to life than appearances and yoga became the key to unlock a much richer inner life. She did the Process in September 2009 and now teaches yoga and hypnobirthing.
“Is it 7.30 am already? I’m exhausted even before reality kicks in: deadlines, school run, work, gym, appointments…. Just give me five minutes and couple of extra espresso shots for the transformation from zombie to human…”
Sound familiar? And is that how you imagined your life panning out?
Ageing is still taboo in the West. The media urges us to erase its traces with botox, face-lifts and tummy tucks. Lurking in the deepest layers of our subconscious is a fierce resistance to the one process that’s a given for us all. And, in the meantime, the anti-ageing industry is thriving on repeat business because the outside will eventually reflect the inside. If you spray a rusty car how long will the paint job hold?
Sooner or later we need to wake up to the fact that growing older joyfully is an inside job. If we want a new prescription that doesn’t simply paper over the cracks – or fill them in – where do we begin?
You Are As Young As Your Spine
Wrinkles and birth certificates are no indicator of biological age; look at the health of your spine if you really want to know how old you are. “You are as young as your spine” is ancient Chinese wisdom.
Regular stretching, strengthening, grounding and breathing exercises help to keep your energy moving. A flexible body supports a supple mind and increases resilience to life’s slings and arrows. The 5 minute Yoga Sequence in the photos at the end of this article is an example of how you can give yourself a daily dose of spine health.
But, as Hoffman showed me, it’s equally vital to care for ourselves beyond the physical. Growing up doesn’t stop when we reach a certain height – it’s a lifetime’s work. And unlike growing taller, the emotional, mental and spiritual part of getting older needs our awareness and participation if we’re to grow wiser too. As I discovered on the Process, there are aspects of us that will never mature past childhood unless we allow them into our awareness for integration.
This ability to reflect, witness and check-in with yourself is what I think of as the spiritual aspect of the ageing journey. And to travel first class and enjoy the view, we first need to know ourselves at a deep level. We need to connect to our dreams and our values and to know what nourishes those in every area of our life.
Because Life challenges us all.
- At times the unexpected just feels like a road bump.
- Other times it knocks us over (but we quickly bounce back)
- And, then there are the times we stay down till after the bell
How you take care of yourself today will determine which of those three reactions will play out for you in the future.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is so much more than going for a pedicure. It’s about growing. It’s about getting to know the intricate details of yourself. As Hoffman would put it, it’s a deep awareness of yourself as a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual being.
First, you need to know your body and how it operates. Like your car, you get the best performance by knowing the basics, what kind of fuel it runs best on and when to take it in for a service. What terrain does it thrive on – open roads or city bustle?
Stage two is discovering what amazing things it can do if you train its endless potential. Most of us barely discover first gear and we drag our body around with the hand brake still on. Unless we do some self-study. This is when yoga and courses like the Hoffman come together beautifully.
When I did the Hoffman Process I had a lot of sifting to do (a lot). My father had passed away at 52 yrs old, my relationship with life and myself needed attention, the kind I had never given it before. Hoffman was the beginning of a beautiful friendship for me and gave me clarity about what really nourished me. And that’s gold dust – to get to know what works for us, beyond all the stuff we are told.
Creating Your Prescription
- Do you know how to take care of yourself? Think about it for a minute.
- Do you know what diet makes you feel springy and what dulls your fires?
- What exercise works for you and do you do it?
- Whose company enriches your soul and do you have the inner wisdom to skip all others?
January is the one time of year that most of us are willing to do some self-reflection and, as you check-in with yourself, the most powerful question to ask is: Are you loving the picture of your life today?
If the answer is yes, congratulations… keep doing what you’re doing. If not, ask yourself these questions? What needs changing, forgiving or embracing.
As the New Year dawns, it is a time for some deep reflection. This check-in time may be more valuable than you realise. It’s the difference between a year that passes you by or one that goes down in the history book of your life.
- Do you want to feel healthy, fit and strong?
- Do you want to feel sharp, clear and creative?
- Do you want to attract extreme abundance and joy into your life?
Then you need to check-in.
Ageing is a spiritual journey. It is the most important you’ll ever take. The truth is, staying youthful, as the years pass is a choice you make now. Not tomorrow but right now. Learning to love yourself enough to take care of yourself properly is part of this journey. My top tip is to reclaim your autonomy and commit to self-care. It’s how we stay young and vibrant to the end.
You can read more about Sonia’s workshops and classes at: www.soniadoubell.com
Sonia’s Eternal Youth Sequence (5 minutes)
You are as young as your spine! Do this 5-minute sequence daily to keep your spine healthy, unlock vertebral tension, stimulate synovial fluid production and keep the joints well-oiled. Nourishing the scaffold of the body will keep you youthful.
Beyond the physical benefits, allow this sequence to connect you to your spiritual self. Switch off the mind, let the movements flow like waves rocking the ocean floor. Allow the primal body to awaken and invite the breath to breathe you. The body wants to rejuvenate; it craves the space and time to be free and when t his is in place, it is able to ecstatically heal. Our spine is sacred; it houses all the subtle body energies and spinal chord. It is the reason we walk upright, it is the scaffolding of the body. Take care of it.
This beautiful sequence will have you feeling 10 years younger very quickly.
Suggested affirmation: “I an connected to everything. I am all-knowing. I am source.”
You can see videos of Sonia, including a video of the Eternal Youth Sequence, on her YouTube channel, here. Please note that if you are new to yoga, or have pre-existing health conditions/injuries, you are advised to check with your GP before undertaking any new form of exercise.
|1. Cat/Cow (Marjaryasana & Bitilasana Flow – 1 minute)
Come onto hands and knees. Exhale as you flex into rounded Cow position, inhale as you flex into inverted Cat position. Continue rhythmically with breath for one minute, gradually increase your speed as you restore spinal flexibility.
|2. Circling the Spine (1 minute left, 1 minute right)
From position one, slide your left knee forward towards left hand. Begin to circle the tail towards the left. Exhale as tail curls down and inhale and tail arches. Start with small circles and gradually increase the circle size as you release all spinal tension. Continue for one minute in each direction. Repeat with right side.
|3. Rolling Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana – 1 minute)
Place the top of your forehead (near hairline) onto the floor in front of you. Slowly begin to exhale as you roll onto the crown of the head, tucking the chin into the neck and then slowly roll back.
Use this pose with absolute mindfulness, feeling into the cranium as you roll slowly back and forth, enjoying the cranial therapy.
|4. Child’s Pose with Extended Arms (Balasana – 1 minute)
Rest your tail on your hands and extend arms out in front of you. Draw your tail downwards towards your heels and mindfully extend your whole spinal column forward as you grow your spine longer than you think you can. Continue for one minute.