Knowing Yourself – Yoga’s Power to Overcome a Winter State of Mind

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”~ BKS Iyengar

As winter hovers I find myself nesting. My mind is busy cleaning cupboards and reflecting on the past year. I feel inspired to cut my hair and try on party makeup. They say it is the most wonderful time of the year and yet, try as I might to cover my winter scars with party clothes I am still reminded of what winter represents. It is now when my yoga becomes a more targeted and a modified practice that it can help me endure the winter storms.

And it truly is a wonderful time of the year. The lights are plentiful and colourful along the city streets, illuminating the neighborhoods from early afternoon darkness. Recitals and performances are replacing the sounds of silence and hibernation with music. But still I feel this dull ache, an aggravated nerve deep inside, reminding me how isolating this time of year can be.

This past weekend I had the pleasure to observe in wonder how good it must feel to be 10; watched by her mom and dad and extended family members, friends, and teachers. Smiles radiating back and forth, eye contact so subtle but you know exactly what it means. And then I watched with curiosity and empathy, how it feels when you go to celebrate your success with your people and you are torn about which side receives you first. I was relieved and honoured that she chose my side first. I was frustrated for her. To feel like you have to choose a member of your pack is stressful. So, I just gave her another hug.

Knowing my issues are different than her challenges, but also aware we share in the angst of it all together is often trigger enough. Winter moments can be isolating, filled with loneliness and silence. Her winter moments seem to be filled with laughter, playfulness, warmth, and freedom. But together we have this quiet bond reminding us of our distance and forced separation. And luckily, I know myself well enough to be able to identify what my behaviours mean and what I need to do to reduce and cope with the stresses in life we induce.

#1. I NEST…clearing away the cobwebs: This is what I do when I am reflective. As I move furniture around and clean closets, I become highly introspective, mindful, aware. This helps me understand my stress without anger.

#2. The MAKEOVER: I love to change and neutralize energy. Just like cutting your hair or wearing make up make changes your energy, so does changing your space, modifying your diet, practicing different yoga sequences. Take the familiar and shift your energy towards a place of newness for clarity.

#3. My MODIFICATIONS: I constantly modify my yoga poses to accommodate torn ligaments and slipping hips. Without these modifications I am injury prone. But during this winter onset, I practice more frequently, sometimes twice in a day dedicating time to welcome the mornings and give closure to my days.

I use my yoga for many different reasons and solutions in my life. It is my physiotherapy as much as it is my psychotherapy. My yoga allows for freedom in my body, that creates space in my mind to manage the triggers; the guilt, the pain, and separation, to all feel more manageable and less like punishment. It is my role as a yoga practitioner to share and expose this tool so we can all self regulate, behaviour modify, and free ourselves from our own discomforts. Yoga is my gift this season. A gift I share with my family, my clients, my community and myself.

Namaste

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