The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, and in many cultures, it is a time of celebration. Mother nature is hibernating, all the food is gathered and stored, and people celebrate the expectation of longer days and spring flora. Don’t spend this time of the year in expectation for the next or warmer season. This is a glorious opportunity to take the time to rest both emotionally and physically. Take the time slow down and to turn inward. Scan your body emotionally and physically and find places that need self-nurturing. Even your yoga practice can move at a slower pace; breathe longer into a pose, spend more time in shavasana, and use this time to find your true heart. As you emerge from this well spent time of self-care, your soul and heart will shine from within, you will be able to share with others your joy and peace.
In our modern-day culture, this time of the year can be very stressful and overwhelming. Keeping up your yoga practice and finding some time for self-care will help to keep you balanced and not threatening to harm the Salvation Army bell ringers or a family member. Try to remember to keep it simple, embrace the chaos and celebrate your reason for the season.
During this time of year we also tend to start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions, how we will eat better, spend less money and exercise more. These thoughts can be very stressful and in a lot instances we end up feeling guilty because we crash and forget our good intentions if not by the first week, then by the third week of January. This new year think in more positive terms about how you can improve your life through the year.
In the Sutras, Patanjali talks about Samskaras as subtle impressions of our past actions and thoughts. Think of your brain as a mind field that has rivers and streams running through it, clear rivers and streams are your positive habits, healthy thoughts and plain old good vibes. If your water is cloudy, muddy and full of muck, it is a sign that you are weighed down by old thought patterns that do not serve you anymore and negative reactions that you continue to use even though they have not led to a successful and happy outcome. One way to clean up the muck, is to set an intention with your full awareness and presence. Change will not happen overnight, studies show it takes 21 days to adopt a habit, so make small changes and stay present with those changes till you feel you have fully integrated them into your daily life. One way to find your intention and vision, is to turn inward and meditate. Many ideas are accessible in the silence. Take your intention and weave it into your practice, set a mantra and come back to it with your breath. Try not to think in terms of world peace or ending hunger, take baby steps, when you find yourself at impasse, stop and revisit your intention. Don’t be afraid to change directions or rethink your plan, you just need to listen and follow your heart.
Embrace your inner desire to slow down and join me on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at Exhale Yoga Pendleton, from 10am to noon, for restorative yoga accompanied by live acoustic guitar. We will embrace the winter and ease into the spring.
The 8 heathy miracles of winter yoga: