Dear Yogi/nis,
Of course it’s the holiday season coming up and life often becomes that much more busy, doesn’t it? Even though yoga asks us to slow down, our work or study schedule, household chores, and family responsibilities don’t stop and seem to increase come December. This can also be a very lonely and isolating time of the year, which of course is stressful as well! Fitting in yoga often means a pay off that we might be reluctant to do.
It might mean giving up some of the morning TV, swapping half an hour’s sleep for some stretches and meditation, or spending a Sunday afternoon preparing meals so you can fit in a weeknight class and still get fed, or perhaps more likely, ordering a take-away instead.
Unless you’re on a wonderful yoga retreat or living in a remote monastery, yoga is always going to be a physical practice that you will try to fit in around responsibilities as well as a mental attitude to try and keep, so that stress doesn’t invade your inner-world.
I’ve tried to come up with some of the easiest ways you can fit yoga into a busy schedule as well as gain more mindfulness and peace so that you can enjoy the festive period when you’re away from the mat.
1. Live with a yogic attitude. Don’t think of squeezing in yoga, think of living yoga. It doesn’t always have to be on the mat, just in the present moment ( and then the next one which you notice and the next, and so on ).
2. Breathe it. You don’t stop breathing, so there’s no reason to call a halt to your yoga. Being conscious of your breathing at any time and in any situation will remind you of some of the sensations you’ve experienced when you were deep into a yoga pose or wallowing in blissful meditation. We take so many breaths, yet notice so few of them! All that we need to choose to notice, and to enjoy a conscious breath.
3. Be a mountain. Your posture will thank you for standing tall and siting straight with your shoulders back and down! Engage your Mula Bandha and feel the energy rise along the spinal column. Tadasana is standing strong like a yogi; you can do it anywhere so you might like to remember to practice it at the checkout.
4. Eagle-Wrap when you can. We can all wrap our legs when sitting on the sofa and it also works if you slide slightly forward sitting at the table at any festive dinner. Don’t forget to relax while you wrap!
5. Do yoga in the shower. Try to stand and relax in Tadasana with your back to the shower head. You can try to squeeze your shoulder blades back and down, which will open your chest, and you will be able to feel the water running down from the back of the heart like a waterfall. You might then like to fold forward into Uttanasana and let the water run over your spine or face the water, lean back a little and let the water massage your heart space. Take your time.
6. Practice mindfulness. We must remember that we can be mindful at any time and regardless of how long we stop for. Even if you can’t stop your busy-ness, all you have to do is choose to be mindful while you do what you’re doing.
7. Choose yourself. As busy people we make so many choices each layabout how we spend our time and energy but we seldom choose ourselves. Choosing to prioritise ourselves at this time might be what makes us better friends, family and people.
8.Practice gratitude. Practice your gratitude to yourself and to others each and every day.
Wishing you a peaceful start to Christmas.
Term ends on Thursday 20 December. New term starts on Thursday 03 January.
“With gratitude.”