It’s said the average person has up to 70,000 thoughts per day. And that’s before you’ve thrown in arguments, train delays, and rainy days.
So, how do we have a hope in hell of combatting what nature gave us and calming the mind when it is essentially a giant mass of data processing?
Anna Smithers believes starting young is crucial to understanding our complex brains that desperately want to be free yet are tied down with the burdens of life.
In particular, she says the magic of yoga is what can help little ones find their feet in this world to face whatever is thrown at them and still be able to remain chill.
Speaking exclusively to InspoDaily, Anna spilled the beans on her Yogi Superhero series and why she hopes to introduce young readers to the wellbeing practice.
Anna said: “When I was a child, I was very emotional. I felt the world. No one taught me how to be aware of my mind and my emotions, or how to handle them.
“Yoga teaches us how to become a superhero with the special power of being calm. If I knew then, what I now know, I would be a completely different person.”
The picture books – for ages three to eight – are a perfect guide for parents, carers, and teachers, exploring mindful yoga poses to help self-soothe, self-regulate and manage negative emotions, all of which can transform children.
Speaking about what’s inside the pages, Anna said kids are introduced to the life force energy prana that surrounds us and connects humanity.
Packed with vibrant illustrations in natural surroundings to show our connection with nature, the stories also influence the mind with positive affirmations – the perfect antidote before bed to work on the subconscious while asleep.
Anna strives to talk about emotions too, sharing breathing techniques to help kids understand it is okay to sit with tricky emotions, including anger, sadness, or fear.
Despite our best efforts to tackle anxiety better as a society, Anna says there is still a lot of work to do, and it all begins with changing our perception of stress.
Notably, we must grasp that our stress response has always been with us, a primal instinct from when our ancestors had to flee dangerous animals or fight for food.
In small doses it is healthy and often needed, such as when we get up from bed each day, which wouldn’t happen without this built-in stress response system.
However, it is when we allow stress to rule over us that problems present.
Anna said: “Stress occurs when our brain perceives a threat. It could be anything from an unwanted bill to a confrontation with an angry motorist. Part of the brain called the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones like adrenalin and cortisol, then blood pressure goes up, the heart beats faster, white blood cells stick to the walls of the veins in case of any wounds to activate the healing processes, the body retains water to preserve body fluid in case of severe bleeding, and it also gets a dose of sugar and fats to give us fuel to react to defend ourselves or escape depending on the situation, with big amounts of glucose and oxygen delivered to the brain, skeletal muscles, and heart.
“Our body is prepared to escape the danger, our ‘fight or flight’ response is activated.”
Yet as Anna points out, while small amounts of this have a positive effect on the body, issues start when the body is affected by stress for a long time.
It is these reasons why she believes meditation and relaxation techniques should be taught from nursery and throughout the whole education system, with lunchtime relaxation sessions provided by each employer in the workplace too.
Anna concluded: “We need to be equipped with tools to help us cope with our conditioned mind and yoga is the gift we all have been searching for.”
She added: “Throughout my life, I searched for freedom in many ways. I thought that maybe knowledge would set me free. I got two masters, two diplomas, and learned to speak three languages. I never even came close to feeling happy or free.
“I travelled a lot. Met numerous people. Had amazing moments. I was in and out of relationships, healthy and not so healthy, but none of them could make me happy.
“That was when I understood that I was the only person who could make me happy.”
It was through finding yoga that Anna finally found her freedom and credits it with “breaking the limits my mind created over the years”.
To quieten the little minds in your life, click here: Anna Smithers.