Now that the Christmas season is over, people are eager to start something new and to try and stick to their New Year’s resolutions. There is a buzzing in the air that’s hard to ignore!
Around this time, we get lots of new students joining and although it’s a good time to start new classes, it’s important to slowly build up your practice. You may feel attracted to active yoga classes but it often makes sense to take your time and work more gently in the winter.
In nature, everything slows down: many animals hibernate and plants even die back to prepare for spring and the activity ahead. It makes sense to take a leaf out of nature's book and practice in a way that honours the season.
This should help to avoid ‘Blue Monday’ which falls around the third Monday of January and is said to be the most depressing day of the year. It’s believed that Blue Monday occurs because of a combination of factors like cold weather and failing our New Year’s resolution, but I believe one of the main culprits is exhaustion. Many people end up feeling like they need to accomplish lots of things at the start of the year and end up burning out. Instead of (literally) running around trying to do everything, it's best to slow down and focus on things that energise us.
After the festivities, I’ve also been feeling tired and dispersed. It was a lovely break with plenty of socialising with family and friends, but once I was back at work there was lots of catching up to do! I felt like I should be doing more, but deep down I knew that I first needed to slow down and rejuvenate.
So recently in my practice, I’ve been focusing on restorative postures and slow long held sequences that encourage concentration and grounding. I’ve also been doing more breathing and relaxation techniques to revitalise.
It’s really important to observe and adjust our practice to honour where we are. This can be challenging as we often end up doing things that we think are right rather than really listening to ourselves. Spending some time at the beginning of the practice to feel and reflect on our experience is essential. Our practice can then help us achieve more balance throughout the changing seasons.
What is your original nature, snow man?
- Natsume Soseki from Zen Poems