Inspiration,  Practice,  spirituality,  Yoga in the Everyday

Staying Connected in the Holiday Season

The following is an article I wrote for the Yoga Association of Alberta’s newsletter – published December 2010.
There’s nothing like the holiday season to remind us that our practice is essential.  This year, let all you’ve learned from yoga help you remain connected to yourself amidst the beauty and occasional madness of the season.

Connect To the Aliveness Within – When the demands of the season begin to scatter your energy and wear you down let the life in your body call you home.  Tune into the direct perception of sensation and let the texture of the season help you – no matter where you are.  If you find yourself feeling frazzled at a Christmas gathering, soften your eyes and let the glow of the surrounding lights immerse you in their electricity.  Breathe deeply and take in the festive scents that fill the room. Let your ears receive the humming sound of conversation, laughter or even disagreement.  Listen for the energy inside the noise and let it feed you.  
Remember Your Breath

– Tensions in the chest, ribs and spine thwart the flow of breath cutting off a direct source of energy for coping with life.  Every time you hear a Christmas song, gently deepen your breath until you can feel it bumping up against inner tensions.  Let its rhythm soothe you and connect you to the moment and the state of your being.

Respond Intelligently Through Asana – As you tune in to yourself, keep in mind that you have innumerable ways to respond to your needs.  Engage in a slow restorative practice when you’re exhausted and over stimulated or a faster practice to channel nervous energy.  Use back bends to open the heart, breath and spine or standing postures to engage your strength and grounding.  Treat yourself to your most comforting pose, often, and let it work its alchemical magic. 
Remember The Silent Night – There is a part of us that unconditionally receives the experience of the moment.  It is the Silent Night of our hearts.  Unchanged by circumstance, unscathed by stress, the loving light of Awareness is all-welcoming and ever present.  In a season where sometimes materialism replaces meaning and superficiality replaces deeper connection, we forget that the essence of the season is love and good will.  But, yogi, you have the tools for remembering – every time your teacher called your unconditional awareness to your knees, your breath or your thoughts they were calling you to the practice of love.  

The Holidays is a time when the darkness and light of our human nature is unmistakable.  It can also be a time to celebrate the incredible vehicle of yoga as it offers meaning and sustenance in our journey through the season.