Abdominal crunches will work on your core. Yoga can work on that core – but it also works on your other core. That core is your inner self, the source of your “prana,” yourself without all the baggage you’ve taken out. It’s also your lobster, as I’ve mentioned, that part that wriggles out of one shell in life and into another.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how that luscious lobster core is akin to our child selves thanks to the wonderful Netflix series “Russian Doll”. In it the main character Nadia is going through a crisis and starts seeing visions of her childhood self (at about 9 years old). As she works through it all, her long-time therapist refers back to that child self and tells her,
“Listen to me. You were this tiny seed buried in darkness fighting your way to the light.
You wanted to live. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Do you still have that in you?
Nadia I look at you now chasing down death at every corner and sweetheart where is that gorgeous piece of you pushing to be a part of this world? I’m gonna make you some tea.”
I think many parents could recognize this in their kids at ages 6-9. There’s a beautiful purity to the drive of a kid at this age. It’s not that they can’t be obnoxious at that stage, because humans can always be a pain to each other. But when we are in some ways our purest selves. At that age we know enough about who we are to make our own choices and pursue them. However, we are (sometimes, anyway) too young to have the pressure of committing to “roles.” We aren’t crafting personas, we are just being, on instinct.
By the time middle school rolls around, we are experimenting with this lobster shell or that lobster shell, taking each for a spin before taking a stand. This is necessary for our development, but parents can attest to how painful it is to see your little lobster child covered up.
Our fascination with ourselves and with children at this age can be seen in literature as well as in shows. Kids this age in books are free to explore without the labels they will take on later. That’s one reason I’ve always loved Mary in “The Secret Garden,” Anne in “Anne of Green Gables,” Meg in “A Wrinkle in Time,” and of course, Emily in “Emily of New Moon.”
The latter is referred many times in “Russian Doll” and is of great importance to Nadia. She used it as a child to escape her bad situation and later on as an adult gives it to another girl, saying empathically, “Emily is the hero.” When she does that, I think she is owning her own child self and celebrating her for what she was.
Nadia still has her strong child core and she learns to harness her energy once again.
In yoga, we temporarily take off the roles (or shells) we take on, and just be for a bit. I love being in child’s pose because we are in a fort of our own bodies. Take a moment and take stock, remembering our core traits. We can channel who we were so that we can remember who we are.