Yoga is Connection. As I write this, we don’t know what December will look like, but it seems as though at least some of the restrictions will still be in place as we move into the Christmas period and the year comes towards a close. As well as the benefits of the physical practice, the teachings of yoga can help us with the uncertainty and isolation of lockdown. I’ve been reflecting with my yoga students to work out which practices will be most useful this winter to support our physical and mental wellbeing and to help us to feel more connected even when we are physically apart. Together we have come up with these strategies to bolster us, so we can be more present and engaged whatever the end of this year brings.
Yoga encourages us to connect with nature and with the seasons. Time outside can help us to notice seasonal changes to our natural environment and though we might not have as many reasons to go outside this winter, making an effort to take at least small amounts of time outside in daylight each day can make a huge difference to our mood and the quality of our sleep. A short walk around my block each morning takes just 7 minutes, clears my head and boosts my energy.
A simple gratitude practice helps us get things in perspective. This short nightly practice I use with my partner to lift our spirits just before bed, helps us to sleep more easily. We ask each other ‘what are your 3 things today?’ And we both come up with 3 things we are grateful for in relation to the day that has just passed. It takes just a few minutes and really changes our mood at that key moment just before bed.
The act of verbalizing or writing the 3 things down, has been shown to increase the effect on our nervous system of this simple gratitude practice. You can say the 3 things out loud to yourself or your pet, there doesn’t have to be anyone there apart from yourself to hear you say the things you are grateful for. Or you could write the 3 things down – both writing and verbalizing have been shown to magnify feelings of wellbeing.
Supporting causes and charities reminds us that we are part of a larger community of caring humans who want to help to make a difference. If you don’t already, I encourage you to find a cause/local group/charity that you can support in some way this winter.
Meditating on those you can’t be with is a practice that one of my students shared with me that I have found really helpful. Whilst sitting quietly, bring to mind images of each person you are missing, one by one. This has helped me to feel connected in my heart to those I can’t be with right now to help me focus on the love rather than the missing.
May we all feel connected as the year ends.
Take care of yourself, Clair.